As a portrait photographer who became as famous as his celebrity subjects, David Bailey needs no introduction. As a ‘place of heaven in the East End’, Wanstead Park needs no introduction either. When Mr Bailey took his camera to the park during lockdown, the result was his 99th cover for British Vogue
Long ago, when I was a child in the East End of London, a German, for some reason, wanted to kill me. His name was Hitler, as you may have guessed. He was one of only three men whose name I knew. The others were Stalin and Churchill.
Anyway, Hitler caused me the most aggravation. He always sent his air force over to bomb me at say six o’clock or in the late afternoon, which was when Toy Town came on the radio. This went on for a short period of my life until I was about seven and a half. The Blitz was over and Hitler was dead, and sadly, I had outgrown Toy Town.
A bike was my friend and I could roam wherever it took me, together with my mate Roy. Mostly around the East End, where all the bombed buildings were my playground. But then I discovered a place of magic called Wanstead Park. This wonderful place was not full of broken glass and shrapnel. (I missed the shrapnel – I had a great collection of it.) But this place was perfect with its lakes and what seemed to me a jungle of trees. And to top it all, the bluebells in the spring.
The park has never lost its magic. I still visit whenever I can to see the ruin of the boathouse I thought was Dick Turpin’s hideaway, and the mystery of the old manor house that was pulled down long ago.
It was, and still is, a place of heaven in the East End.