The East London district of Whitechapel was in a state of shock yesterday after news broke that an alcoholic street entertainer had stepped on a rake outside a gardening accessories shop in Whitechapel, causing the handle to strike him a glancing blow which left him with a large swelling above his left eye.
Billy Dell, 57, of no fixed abode, was a regular sight outside Whitechapel tube station, where he would entertain commuters by singing a medley of popular songs, often accompanying himself on the spoons and jew’s harp.
Last night, local people were gathering outside the shop doorway where he sleeps, laying floral tributes and placing lighted candles next to his fetid sleeping bag. Some were even being sick and urinating in nearby doorways as a tribute to their idol.
One distraught woman told The Whelk: “I grew up listening to Billy’s singing and spoon solos. I had my first kiss when I was 15 while he sang Only A Rose and My Old Man’s A Dustman just a few feet away. The news that he’s stepped on a rake has absolutely devastated me. I’ll be changing my Facebook avatar to one of Billy with his dog on a piece of string as soon as I get home”
Police said last night that there were no suspicious circumstances, and immediately ruled out any connection with an incident last Friday when Mr. Dell tripped over a sleeping cat outside a general store in Aldgate and ended up with his head wedged in a galvanised tin bucket.
If you’d like to make a to make a donation to help Billy pay off his off-licence tab, send a cheque to: The Billy Dell, Purple-Faced Appeal Fund, The Prince of Bowie Public House, Whitechapel Rd, London E1.