The Games Player – Granny Plays Too








Golders Green is possibly the best known Jewish residential areas in London, but a lesser known one is in nearby West Hampstead – and it was a quiet residential street in thar area that I found myself in that particular Friday afternoon.


And there was one house in this particular street that I was interested in.  Said home was the residence of a Doctor Samuel Cohen, a very, very well known surgeon and TV personality.  He lived there with his wife Rebecca, his mother Mary, and his two daughters – ten year old Lilian and eight year old Martha.


And why was I there on a Friday?  Because, as a good Reformed Jew, Doctor Cohen was at the Hampstead Synagogue – and as one of the elders, he would not be back until it was supper time.  As it was then about two in the afternoon, it meant the rest of the family would be home alone – and would be part of another game.


I was wearing a black bomber jacket over a roll neck sweater, tight leggings and knee length black boots, with leather gloves over my hands and a black wool beanie on my head – but as I looked up and down the street, I opened the front gate of their house and walked quickly up, trying the door handle and opening it to let myself in.


I stopped for a moment and took off the hat, then rolled the stocking down over my head and tucked it under the collar of my jumper, so that my face was covered, and then I tool a moment to listen out for any noise.  I could not hear any, but that was not unusual, as I started to move down the hallway of the three storey house.  Stopping by a doorway I could hear noises behind, I slowly opened the door and looked in.


Lilian and Martha were sitting at a table, drawing on paper.  Both girls had long brown hair, and were identically dressed.  They both had on a long chocolate brown pinafore dress, and given I could see Lilian clearly I noticed the red rose printed on the left breast, and the matching one on the skirt on the right.  The dresses were over long sleeved white tops, and their legs were in pairs of knee length brown leather boots over white tights.


I decided to leave them for the moment, and made my way back towards the kitchen, expecting to find Rebecca there – but instead it was Mary I saw with her back to me.  The grey haired woman was wearing a brown fur gillet over a long sleeved brown top, fawn coloured pants and black ankle boots, and she was humming to herself as she chopped vegetables by the sink.


I smiled as I walked forward, and then pressed the end of the starting pistol against her back as I said “good afternoon – very slowly, put the knife down, and then slowly put your hands behind your back.”




“You and your family are going to play a game – and you get to explain it to them.  Now, do as I say.”


I waited as Mary looked out of the window, and then she put the vegetable knife down and moved her own hands behind her back.  “Don’t move,” I whispered as I slipped my rucksack off, put the gun to the side, and took a length of white cord out before I used it to bind her wrists tightly together.


“A game?  So are you one of the Game Players they talk about?”


“I am – I know here your granddaughters are, but where is your daughter in law?”


“Putting laundry away upstairs,” Mary said calmly as I tied the rope off, “so I have your word none of us will be harmed?”


“So long as everyone keeps calm, and you and your daughter in law keep the children believing this is a game, then everyone will be fine,” I said as she turned round and looked at me.


“A woman – a strong one as well.  At least you will not be doing anything beyond securing and making sure we cannot raise the alarm.”


“On that, you have my word,” I said as we both heard footsteps, so I walked behind Mary and put the starter pistol against her back again as Rebeca came into the kitchen.  Her long dark brown hair was falling over the shoulders of her cowl necked grey dress, the bottom of the dress over her white leggings, and the legs tucked into a pair of knee length black leather boots.


“Mama?  What is happening,” she said as she looked at us.


“Do not worry, Rebecca,” Mary said quietly, “I am unharmed, and so will you and the children be – if we do as she says.  I am presuming we will go and talk to them soon?”


“Indeed,” I said as I came round, a length of cord in my hand, “but first, Rebecca, you need to start playing the game as well.  Please, put your hands behind your back.”


“So what are you going to do,” Rebecca said as I wound the rope around and between her wrists.


“Well, first,” I said with a smile under the stocking, “I need to make sure both of you have your arms fully secured.  Once we have done that, then we have something to tell your daughters.”


“That they are going to play a game of Robbers?”


I nodded to Mary as I tied the rope off, then drew a longer length from the rucksack.  “That’s right – so please, stand perfectly still…”



I opened the door for Rebecca and Maria, Lilian and Martha looking up – and then looking again as they saw me come behind them, and the bands of rope around their upper bodies that were holding their arms against their sides.


“Mama, what’s happening,” Lilian asked as Martha let her pencil drop on the table.


“We’re going to play a game,” Rebecca said with a smile, come over, and look at me and Grandmamma.”


The two girls got up and walked over from the table, turning and looking at Rebecca and Mary’s arms and hands.  “Why did you do this,” Martha said as she looked at me.


“Well, I’m pretending to be a robber,” I said with a smile, “and that means I have to make sure nobody can stop me or raise the alarm before I go.   But it is just a game, so there’s no need to be afraid or frightened – I will make sure you are all the same before you get the chance to see who can get free first.”


“That’s right,” Mary said with a smile, “it looks strange, but it does not hurt.”


“So – the lady is going to do this to us,” Lilian said quietly.


“I am,” I said as I opened my rucksack, and took out two lengths of rope, “and the time for you to start to play the game is now.  Which of you would like to be first?”


Lilian and Martha looked at each other, before the younger girl turned round and put her hands behind her back.  Lilian watched as I doubled the rope over, crossed Martha’s wrists behind her back, and then tied them tightly together.


“How does it feel,” Lilian asked nervously.


“It’s – strange,” Martha whispered as I tied the rope ends off, “but it’s not hurting me.  I think we will be all right, Lilian.”  The older daughter nodded as I walked behind her, the other watching as I secured her wrists together behind her back as well.


Lilian flexed her fingers, and said “okay – it’s not hurting me, but do we have to have the bands of rope round our bodies as well.”


“Yes you do – or else you would not be like your mother and grandmother,” I said as I doubled over a longer length of rope, and then passed it round Martha, pulling it tight round her stomach before I passed it round her upper arms.   She giggled as the rope rubbed on her, holding her arms in place before I secured the ends behind her back, and used two shorter lengths to tighten them between her arms and body.


“Your turn now,” Rebecca said with a smile as I used another length of rope to bind Lilian’s arms to her sides, the two girls wriggle round when I had finished.


“Now, let’s all go into the room your television is in,” I said with a smile, “you two and your grandmother will stay there, while your mother comes round the house with me so that she can show me what a real thief would take.”


The two girls nodded as we all walked into the front room, Mary sitting in the centre of a long black leather couch before she said “sit next to me, girls.”  Lilian and Martha sat either side of her, Rebecca watching as I walked over and drew the curtains over the windows, the sound of traffic outside getting slightly duller.


“Now then,” I said as I put my rucksack down and opened it, the starting pistol out of sight as I took more ropes out, “to make sure you three stay in this room, I’m going to tie your ankles and legs together.  Martha, I will take care of you first.”


All of them watched as I doubled the first length of rope over, and passed it round Martha’s ankles, pulling them together as I took the rope around and between her legs.  Tying the ends off, she tried to move her feet as I doubled another length of rope over, before saying “what’s that funny noise?”


“Your boots rubbing together,” I said with a smile as I bound her legs tightly together below her knees, Martha nodding as I tied that off, then moved over and started to bind her older sister’s ankles together.


As I secured her legs below her knees, the white still visible over her tights, Mary said “when the masked lady has secured my legs, perhaps we can watch something on the television.  What would you like to watch?”


“Can we watch Miraculous, Mama,” Lilian said as she looked at Rebecca.


“Of course you may – and when we come back in, we can all have a drink and a snack?”  She looked at me, probably expecting me to say no, but I nodded and said “of course you can – but I need to put something in your mouths to make it difficult for you to call for help while you wait, all right?”


The two girls nodded as I began to bind Mary’s ankles, and then her own legs below her knees, before I went to the bag and took out three clean white rags, folding them all into pads.


“I’ll put these in your mouths, but I am trusting you all not to spit them out while I am with your mother, all right?”


All three nodded as Mary opened her mouth, and I pushed the cloth in, the edges sticking out form between her lips as I made sure both Lilian and Martha were kept quiet as well.  I then turned the television on and found what they wanted to watch, before I helped Rebecca to stand up and walk out of the door.


“Now,” I said quietly as the theme music started, “shall we visit the bedrooms first?”




About an hour later, Mary turned her head as the door opened, and I carried a tray with four glasses of milk and four straws on it, as well as some cookies.  “Let me put this down,” I said as I looked at the girls, “and make sure your mother is secure as well, and then I’ll take those out of your mouths and let you all have a drink.”


“Fhkknuh,” Lilian said as Rebecca took a seat in the chair, all of them watching as I secured her ankles tightly together, and then her legs below her knees, before I eased the cloths out of each of their mouths.


“Are you going to put those back in,” Mary said as she looked at me.


“Before I go, yes, which is why I want to be sure you get the same ones,” I said with a smile before I picked a glass up, and let Martha have a drink of the milk, then held the cookie as she ate it before she had another drink.


“Thank you,” she said with a smile as she twisted round, her boots squeaking as I made sure her older sister had a drink and a snack as well.


“So what are you going to do next,” Rebecca asked as she also twisted round, her boots rubbing together as her mother in law took a drink.


“Well, once you have had your drink,” I said with a smile, “I need to make sure you really cannot raise the alarm, so I’ll put the cloths back in your mouths – and one in yours – and then I have some special tape to put over your mouths that will make sure you cannot push them out.  Then I’ll stay for a little while as you watch some more, before I go to the kitchen.  The first person after that who manages to get free and join me wins the prize, all right?”


Lilian and Martha both nodded as Rebecca had a drink, and then they opened their mouths as I made sure their cloths went all the way in, Mary being next.  I then took from my rucksack a roll of white tape, and tore a strip off before smoothing it over each of their mouths.  One strip was enough – it stuck to them like a second skin, leaving them only able to mumble before I folded a fourth cloth, and said “time to be quiet, Rebecca – open your mouth nice and wide.”


“We can tell Papa all about the game when he gets back, all right?”


The others nodded as I silenced her, and then they all settled down, the girls with their heads resting against their grandmother as I watched the television with them for a few minutes.  I could see their eyelids were drooping, and then they both fell asleep.


As they did so, Rebecca and Mary looked at me as I said “thank you for playing along," then picked up my rucksack and left them to wait for the good doctor to return…







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