As a journalist I‘m no stranger to the strange and bizarre, and I confess I heard the story many times over the years, but always put it down to urban myth, or the fanciful ravings of drunken bartenders.
The fact that it persisted always intrigued me. So I started digging, more as a hobby at first, and many times I got excited only to have the claim revealed to be nothing more than a cruel hoax.
Then one cool November evening I discovered that it was in fact all true. It had really happened. I immediately travelled to the spot in question to see for myself and speak to those who were present.
What I found humbled me.
WunderBar in London’s fashionable Soho is a pleasant, if unspectacular, place considering what happened there. Dave Parks, the bartender who received the tip is still working behind the bar. “I guess just couldn’t bring myself to leave. He told me.
To this day Dave doesn’t like to speak about what happened, but after much coaxing he finally opened up, the strain clearly visible even after all these years.
Dave: The guy didn’t seem different. I can’t say I even really noticed him at first. I mean it’s not like I was even that friendly!
BKH: What went through your mind?
Dave: Honestly? Nothing. I just…stared. I’d heard stories, mostly from American friends, but to actually see it? (Begins to cry.) It was just so unexpected.
BKH: Do you need a hankie?
Dave: I’ll be OK in a moment
Dave wasn’t the only one whose memories remain vivid. Akbar Parkinson, 36, worked security on the night in question.
Akbar: When I saw Dave’s face I knew something was wrong. Then I saw the guy reach for something in his pocket. I thought he was going for a weapon! I mean, Christ, you just never suspect. Personally I blame the bosses. They just don’t prepare you for this.
Monica Krypney, 24, a former waitress was also there on that fateful night.
Monica: I left the industry shortly after. I just couldn’t…(voice trails off.) It just made me ask too many questions, OK?
Described as a white male in his early forties with dark hair and a moustache, no one knows who the unnamed man was, or where he came from and despite many years of searching no one in Britain has heard any more of him, or for that matter, anyone like him.
The only sign he ever existed now is a small plaque at the spot where he sat. It’s a simple marker; embossed bronze with a tasteful embedding of rubies, but I feel it honours the man’s act of kindness, and his contribution to the UK hospitality industry.
The greatest sign of his existence however is how clearly those present remember him.
If you were that man, or you know who he was, please let us know. All calls are anonymous.