In Their Own Words – Not A Problem







This week, In Their Own Words returns to a theme from a previous show – women with disabilities who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances.  For our first story, we go to Birmingham, and meet Shona, an actress in repertory who found herself living in real life the part she was playing…


The first night had been amazing, and I had removed my costume and make up, looking forward to the after show party.  I was playing an heiress who was held captive in her own home, which given I was int his chair as long as I can remember, was not that much of a stretch.


I checked myself in the mirror, thinking I looked good.  I had put on a black shrug cardigan paired with a sparkled bra top, and a short brown pleated skirt, as well as fishnet stockings and a pair of long black boots with a fur lining.  Edna, my dresser, had been a great help with this, as I put my purse on my lap and started to wheel myself towards the stage door.  The theatre is very accessible, so a few moments later I was leaving the building, and looking to my car.


Which is why it was such a surprise to be grabbed from behind, turned and quickly pushed in the other direction, and up a ramp into the back of a transit van.  It happened so quickly, it wasn’t possible for me to react at all, before the doors were slammed shut and someone held my wrists down onto the wheels of the chair.  There was the sound of tape been ripped, and then my wrists were taped onto the wheels themselves – so that even if I tried to move them, I could not.  Especially as whoever it was had put the brake on.


I could hear more tape been ripped, and then it was pressed firmly over my mouth, as the van moved off, and I realised I really was been kidnapped…


I don’t know how long we drove for, but eventually we stopped, and the tape was cut from my wrists as a voice ordered me to lean forward.  As I did so, my arms were pulled behind my back, and I felt whoever this was tape my wrists tightly together, and then the tape round my stomach, pulling on my belly as my wrists were forced against my back.  Another band was wrapped round my upper arms, above my chest, and I was glad I had the shrug on – even if I knew the tape would ruin it.


 The van doors had been opened, but the light was behind me, so all I could see were shadows as someone knelt down, and taped my ankles together – ruining my boots as well, before they taped my legs above and below my knees.  I knew I was going nowhere – and that was reinforced as whoever it was lifted me out of my chair, carried me through a brightly lit warehouse, and then laid me down on a bed in an equally dim room before they closed and locked the door.


All I could really do was get comfortable, while I wondered what the point was…




I have no idea how long I lay there, before the door was opened, blinding me until someone came in and put a blindfold over my eyes, then made me sit up and took the tape from my mouth.  He spoke softly, and told me he had food and water, and he would feed me.  I’m telling you, a chicken sandwich never tasted so good…


Then the tape was pressed back over my mouth, before the blindfold was removed.  By the time I had blinked, the door was closed, and it was darkness again.


I was really beginning to wonder what had happened, when there was shouting outside, and then the door was opened – this time by a policeman.  They had managed to track down where I had been taken, and I was rescued to my eternal relief…



The four men were charged and convicted with kidnapping.


But it need not have been so dramatic a situation as that.  For Carol and Clare, it was a quiet Sunday afternoon, and a single intruder…


My sister and I live in a bungalow in the town of Didcot – we were both involved in a bad car accident, and have had to use wheelchairs ever since, so the home is adapted for that.  We work from home, and we do get out on occasion – this particular Saturday, we had planned to meet friends at the cinema, but they called to say they could not make it, so I went to make some food, while Clare went to put a film on.


Now, given we were just planning to go the cinema, we both had dressed for that very purpose.  That meant jumpers jeans and boots – for me, In Clare’s case, it was a blue fleece over a black top, purple jeans and short brown leather boots.


Out kitchen has low surfaces and worktops, to help us cook and eat, so I prepared two sandwiches while Clare went to answer whoever was knocking on the door.  It was only when she asked me to come out to the hallway that our situation became clear to me.  There was a young man standing behind her, holding a knife to her throat, and looking at me as he told me to do as he said, and we’d be all right.


Well, I said I’d whatever he said.  He was wearing dirty denims, and something told me he was not going to be argued with, as he told me to wheel myself into our front room, him following with Clare.  Once we were in, he told us to manoeuvre ourselves onto the couch – which we managed, before he grabbed our wheelchairs and took them out of the room.


We looked at each other and held each other’s hands as he came back in, picked up the sandwich and started to eat it, looking at us as he sat with the knife in his hand.  He asked if we were expecting anyone, and I answered that we weren’t.   That seemed to please him, as he nodded and then said he was going to have to tie us up.


Well, Clare pointed out the obvious fact we could not move without our wheelchairs, but he just laughed, and said he knew we could probably move ourselves along the floor.  Truth to tell, we could – but that had been my plan as well…


So he stood up, and went into the kitchen, coming back with a ball of twine and two tea towels as he told us to put our hands together in prayer in front of us.  I looked at Clare, and then watched as he tied my wrists together with the twine, then passed it between my arms before he put my wrists on my lap, and tied my legs together so that they were fixed in place, then tied my ankles, before he cut and knotted the twine.


Didn’t matter if I could slide off the couch now – no way I could move safely, as I watched him do the same thing to Clare.  We looked at each other, the twine biting into the skin on my wrists, her boots squeaking as she tried to move her legs – and then we were ordered to open our mouths, as he used the tea towels as gags to keep us quiet.


I was glad it was a clean one, but the taste of soap was not too nice, as it pressed down my tongue and started to get heavy by soaking up my saliva.  But we had no choice – we had to watch as he went into our handbags, stealing our money and credit cards, and then looking for my car keys.  That was when I managed to lean forward, and press on my pendant with my fingers as Clare watched.


Useful things, emergency alert pendants – the police arrived just in time to stop him driving away in our car.  Turned out he had absconded from a local youth detention centre, and he thought we would be an easy target.


Stupid berk…


Robberies at offices also happen to all people – ask June, who as a young woman in the eighties worked as a wages clerk in a mill…


I guess I was lucky to have a job, given this – the offices were all on the ground floor, which was unusual in those days, and I could manoeuvre my wheelchair in fairly easily.  That particular Friday, it was a warm day, and I had a white cardigan on over a blue denim dress with a deep V-necked front.  I also had on a new pair of short white leather boots, which were laced up the front.  I had long brown hair in those days, and was I thought a bit of a looker – although back then, men definitely tended not to look down…


So, a typical Friday, as the wages were delivered, and I was alone in the office sorting out the wage packets.  Yes, before you say it, there was a time when wages were paid in cash in hand…


Which was also a target for some of the more unscrupulous people in this world – a fact that was made very clear to me when I looked up to see a man, in a boiler suit and balaclava, pointing a sawn-off shotgun in my face as two others stood behind him.


“Money in there,” the armed man barked as he held a bag out, and I – well, I followed standard procedure in there things, and tried not to panic as I put the wages into the bag he gave me.  At the same time, one of the other two men stood by the door of the office, while the second one took some lengths of rope and a strip of brown sticking plaster from his pocket and walked behind me.


I wanted to tell him he didn’t have to do anything, I wasn’t going to raise the alarm – but that was no good, as he peeled the backing paper from the plaster and pressed it firmly over my mouth.  That certainly kept me quiet, but when I had put the last of the money in the bag he pulled my hands behind my back, and I felt him tie them together with the cords.


He then took a longer length, and tied it around my waist and the chair back, so that I was held in place – before he wheeled me away from the desk – and the telephone – and left me in the corner of the room as the men ran off.


It was only when the first of the workers from the early shift came to collect their wages that I was discovered, and able to tell the police what had happened…



Sometimes, love can be found in the strangest of circumstances and places – and for Queenie, that was most certainly true when she went for a drink in the local bar.


No, I can truly say I was not expecting to discover what I did that night – I went for a drink with friends, and that was when I saw her.  She was sitting a table along from us, smiling as she talked to two other women.  Her grey shrug was tied above her bare belly, with a black top underneath, and the legs of her faded blue jeans were tucked into knee length black leather pirate style boots.  She also had long blonde hair, and a lovely smile…


I watched her as I talked with my own friends over a bottle of Chardonnay.  My long dark hair fell over the shoulders of my blue blazer, the purple top underneath with the glittered front shining in the lights. I also had on blue jeans and boots, but my boots were made of a grey fabric.


Anyway, I needed to visit the little girl’s room, so I excused myself for a moment and wheeled myself to the disabled toilet.  When I had finished and started to come out, she was waiting, and smiled at me as I held the door open.


“Thanks,” she said in a soft Scottish accent, “I’m Morag.”


“Queenie – come here often?”


“No I’m visiting – excuse me…”


She smiled again as she closed the door, and I made my way back to my friends…


As I left the pub, I heard Morag say “hey – heading home?”  I said I was, and she told me her friends were going on somewhere else, and she was at something of a loose end.  Would I like some company?


I wasn’t going to refuse, as I started to wheel myself down the road, talking to Morag as we went along.  She was funny and knowledgeable, and cute in the summer evening light, so when I got home I asked her if she wanted to come in and have a drink, while she waited for a cab to come.


Morag said that would be nice, and so I opened my front door and let her go in first while I waited, and then told her to go into the front room while I closed the door.  It was when I followed her in I saw we weren’t alone – there was a man in the house, with a stocking pulled down over his head and a gun in his hand, and I could see he had put some of my trophies into a bag – out of the top of which I could see he also had some ropes.


Morag asked if I knew who he was, and when I shook my head she made soft “oh” sound through her lips as he looked at both of us.   Then he smiled, and ordered us both to go into my bedroom as he picked up the bag.


Well, now I really was worried as we both wheeled ourselves in, and he put the bag down before he took two lengths of cord out, then told us both to lean forward and put our hands behind our back.  I looked at Morag and whispered ~I was sorry as he crossed my wrists, and tied them tightly together with some of the cord.


Morag looked back over at me and smiled, as she said it was actually exciting in a strange sort of way.  I wondered what she meant as the man went behind her, and secured her wrists together as well, before he went back to the bag, took out a much longer length of rope, and used it to bind her arms to her body, making bands above and below her chest as he did so.


I watched him doing that, seeing how her chest was forced up and out, and then she looked at me and smiled, before she asked if I was all right.  I could only nod quietly as he tied the ropes off, and then walked behind me.


The ropes felt strange, as my jacket was pulled back, and I was glad ~I still had that jacket on as it protected my arms – but as the bands began to be formed on my own body, it also felt somehow – nice.  I glanced over at Morag, who was wriggling her body as the bands of rope moved on her, and then she smiled as she looked at me, and said I looked cute like that.


And you know something?  I was pleased she felt that way – it did feel strangely nice as he tied the ropes off, and then knelt in front of me.  Now, I do have some feeling in my legs – I just can’t walk, but as he pulled the rope tight round my ankles I could feel the grey suede compressing around them.


He then tied my legs together below my knees, before he moved over and dd the same thing to Morag.  As her legs were tied, I wondered how it would feel, how it would sound if she could move her booted ankles, her slim legs…


As he pulled the last rope tight, he picked Morag out of her chair, and carried her over to the bed, laying her down on her side before he picked me up and put me down facing her.


“Well,” she said with a smile as she looked at me, “this is different…”


I had to agree with her, but I couldn’t say it – mainly because the man pressed some duct tape over my mouth, three strips in fact, and then did the same to Morag before he started searching through my drawers.  We just lay there, looking at each other, before he left the room and walked downstairs.


I started to wriggle around, trying to find a loose rope or a knot, but it was useless—it just frustrated me, and the ropes were rubbing on me…


And then I looked at Morag as she pushed herself forward, her eyes almost smiling as she gently pressed her taped lips against mine, then looked at me.  I blushed, and then returned the kiss, hearing her soft sigh as I did so and she rubbed her mouth against mine.  She then moved her head down, and nuzzled my neck and the top of my chest as I closed my eyes.


I did the same to her before we looked at each other, knowing something special was beginning to happen…


It was my dad who found us later, when he had tried to call and found the line was dead.  As for Morag, we’re still together today…


Finally today, the story of Bettie, a young model who was duped into a different form of shoot…


It was a normal booking, or at least I thought it was, sold to me as for a catalogue, so I turned up to the studio to see the photographer, stylist and make-up artist waiting.  Things went as they normally would – I was taken in to get ready, and came out in the first outfit.  It was a crimson jersey dress, with capped sleeves and a skirt that came down half way to my knees, and matching over the knee suede boots.


Anyway – I wheeled myself over to the lights, posed, photos taken – all above board and proper.  It was the next bit where it got strange.  The photographer asked if I would be willing to pose for a series of shots to illustrate a true crime book, and he would pay extra for the trouble.  Well, it seemed fair enough, so he asked me to act as if someone was pointing a gun at me. 


That’s easy – I put my hands in the air, opened my eyes wide and acted scared.  Some more photos were taken, and then he said he wanted another model to come in and pretend to be the person holding the gun.


Again, that seemed fair – as a tall blonde came in, wearing a black short sleeved top, tight black leather trousers, high heels and a black eye mask.  She also had short leather gloves on her hands, and smiled as she stood behind me.  It was when she put one of her gloved hands over my mouth that I really did open my eyes wide in shock, but it seemed to only please the photographer as he took yet more snaps.


Well, it was extra money, and I could have used it, but as inhaled the smell of the leather I wondered where this true crime story was going – and I got my answer when he asked if I would be willing to let the blonde “make sure I could not move.”  Well, I did look down at the wheelchair I was in, but he said he meant not move my arms as well.


Now, that did worry me a little, but I agreed, as the blonde went to a side table and picked up some plastic zip ties.  The photographer told me to watch as she did this, and to act scared, so I nodded and watched as she put my left hand on the arm rest of the chair, photos been taken as she used one of the zip ties to force my wrist down onto it.


And that was how the next few minutes passed – my other wrist secured to the other arm, and then my ankles to the wheelchair just above the front wheels.  He was right – there was no way I could move now, given I could not get to the wheels.


He seemed genuinely pleased as she showed me the pictures – but why the blonde had to cover my mouth again as I looked at them puzzled me.  I mean, they were wonderful photos, and I tried to ask what the true crime book was covering.


He said it was about a true story of a group of people in the sixties, who tricked models into coming into photo shoots and then kidnapped them, either for ransom or for ‘other things’ and made sure they never told the police.  Well, that seemed far-fetched to me, and when the gloved hand was taken away I opened my mouth to say so.


Instead, I nearly retched as a rolled up brown silk scarf was pulled between my lips, the band tied tightly round my head as I found it very difficult indeed to talk.  Shout and curse, oh yes – why the hell had they done that?


And then it hit me – they were kidnapping me!


Oh I struggled than and called for help – but he just kept taking photos as the masked blonde walked out of the room, I presume to do whatever she was going to do.  I was petrified, unsure of what was going to happen next…


Which is why I was so glad the police came in at that point – they arrested all of them, and freed me to tell this story…



Next time on In Their Own Words, we invite you, the viewer, to ask the question and we find someone to give the answer.  See you then…







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