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Lobby Lud: continued

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Secret London
Murder Ballads

All week long, the Gazette continued to plug Lobby's appointment at Richmond Park, announcing it had laid on special coaches from central London for what it clearly assumed would be the promotion's next big milestone. The paper even carried a map of Lobby's planned three-hour progress through the park, specifying almost minute-by-minute where he would be. He'd enter at Kingston Gate between 1:30pm and 2:00pm, the map revealed, arrive at Queen's Ride at 3:00pm, pass by White Lodge a little after 3:30pm, visit Spanker's Hill Wood at 4:00pm and leave by the Richmond Gate exit between 5:00pm and 5:15pm.
The day did not disappoint, drawing an astonishing 50,000 people to the park, who lined its roadway for a quarter mile from the Kingston Gate entrance. Lobby seemed genuinely awed by what he had wrought. His report on the Gazette's front page next day describes “legions and legions of people trooping from rendezvous to rendezvous as though on a great pilgrimage; the concourse of walkers and cyclists and cars stretching from White Lodge to Spanker's Hill Wood and beyond; the genial, lovable crowds massed at the Kingston and Richmond Gates and the Penn Ponds. [...] I watched them and moved among them, amazed.”

Lobby's most memorable encounter that day was with a tramp who approached him as he prepared to enter the park, asking for directions to Kingston Gate and desperate to get there on time. “And off he ran,” Lobby says. “Possessed of little more than his Westminster Gazette and his hope of the £100. ‘Cheerio,’ I shouted after him, adding to myself: ‘If anyone is to get that £100 today, I hope it's you’.” (21)
In the event, no-one got the £100. Lobby entered the park on foot just before 2:00pm, and watched the crowds challenging every other motorist who entered. He paused to chat with a few people as he followed his prescribed route through the assembled masses, and dropped his calling card off in a parked car, but was never challenged once. After three hours, he was ready to leave.
“A few minutes after five o'clock, when the crush about Richmond Gate was at fever pitch, I passed out by the small left-hand gate unmolested,” he writes. “That is to say, I stood by the Lodge for a bit, ambled through and halted again on the other side of it, actually brushing pickets with Westminster Gazettes, who scanned me as I passed.”

His captor this time was an unemployed WWI veteran who'd suffered shell shock at Gallipoli

He was not so lucky next day, when a visit to Farringdon Street in Holborn brought his first London capture. The schedule that day called for him to visit St Paul's Cathedral in the morning, walk down Fleet Street at lunchtime and then spend the afternoon at the London Zoo in Regent's Park.
Lobby completed his stroll round St Paul's with half an hour to spare before his Fleet Street appointment at 12:30pm, and slipped away from the main road to kill some time. As he entered Farringdon Street, he realised he was being followed. “I crossed the road and, in desperation, made for a tool and machinery shop, wondering what on Earth I should say when I got inside,” he writes. “My hand was barely on the handle when my pursuer closed with me, produced his paper and said, quivering with excitement and gulping his words: ‘You are Mr Lobby Lud. I claim the Westminster Gazette prize’.” Lobby congratulated the man, and was immediately approached by another hunter, who'd missed the boat by just a few seconds. (22)
The successful captor this time was Herbert Beresford, a 35-year-old unemployed man and a veteran of World War One's Gallipoli campaign. He had been staying at a church hostel for old soldiers and, at the moment he won Lobby's £150, had just five old pence to his name.
“I hunted you all last week,” he later explained. “I was at the Bon Marche, Brixton, at the Elephant & Castle, at Gamage's and in Oxford Street - pretty much everywhere except Woolwich and Greenwich. I hadn't the fare for that, so I just went a short way on the bus route you were to travel by. I started out from the church army place with five pence, two slices of bread and dripping and a Westminster Gazette. I hadn't a penny for the zoo, so I thought I'd hunt you up to 1:30pm in Fleet Street, and then throw it up.
“I had just dodged across the traffic when I saw you buy a paper. [...] You were the right height: I thought you looked like the man. All the time I was following you down Farringdon Street, I was trying to get a look at the left hand for the ring. When you crossed the road, and I saw the other fellow following you too, I just made up my mind and ran at you.”
Beresford had suffered shell-shock at Gallipoli, and been able to get only occasional spells of casual work since leaving the army. He'd spent the last two years living in hostels and cheap boarding houses. “I never earned more than eight shillings and sixpence in a day,” he told Lobby. “You can exist, you know, on three shillings a day. Now I'm going to get some new clothes, take enough money to keep me for a fortnight, put the rest in the bank and look for a job. You can do things when you're decently dressed. I want to get back to my old, regular life, and now I believe I can do it.”
Beresford collected his cheque at that evening's ceremony at the Astoria Cinema in Charing Cross Road, where Westminster Gazette editor JB Hobman made the presentation. He was then paraded before the cheering crowds outside in the Gazette's special car, just as Maskell had been two weeks earlier. Lobby himself joined the audience inside the Astoria to watch Beresford get his cheque, but taunted readers next day with the news that no-one had spotted him.

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