Back to the Cat-Walk
So, I see the fashion supplements are still catching your eye? I’ve told you before that fashion is like a wheel – sooner or later, it all comes round again. Just take a look out of the window if you don’t believe me.
For example, look at that girl with the tight denim shorts. All right, she has a pair of leggings on underneath, but hot pants are not exactly the newest thing on the block. When I was starting out solo, they were all the rage then – even if it was forty years ago.
I was walking down Carnaby Street when I saw her walking in front of me. It was late at night, but the street was well lit, and still had something of the respectable sheen it had gained five years earlier.
She was about five ten, light brown hair which had been cut in a tight bob on top and flowed in long ringlets down to her shoulders. She had over her chest a multi-panelled brown top, with elbow length sleeves, but from behind I could see the material was thin enough to leave little to the imagination. Her brown suede hot pants were so short you could see every movement of her bottom as she walked, while her knee length dark brown suede boots were so tight they looked liek socks with matching shoes.
Now I was still a young man at the time, so naturally I admired her as she walked in front of me. I was also admiring the gold bracelets she was wearing, as well as the rings on her fingers, so I followed her back to her Soho flat. In those days, I was a little bit reckless at times, and I freely admit now I had had a drink, so when I decided to break into her flat I probably took a few minor risks.
Actually, I took a big risk now that I think of it – I picked the lock on her flat and let myself in while it was still relatively light. As a result, it should have come as no surprise to me that she walked into the corridor as I closed the door, or that she would start screaming when she saw me. As I said, I was young and stupid.
Anyway, I grabbed her and forced her into a bedroom, then onto her bed as I clamped my hand over her mouth. I had enough presence of mind to talk carefully, quietly, to reassure her I was not going to harm her, but that I wanted her jewellery. Eventually she calmed down enough to allow me to take my hand away, but there was still a lot of fear in her eyes.
She finally asked me who I was, so I just casually replied I was the man robbing her. Looking on the floor, I could see a couple of rope belts, so I told her to turn over and cross her hands in her back – I needed to make sure she could not raise the alarm until after I had gone. Whether through fear or something else, she did as I asked and I used one of the belts to tie her wrists together, then the other on her ankles after I had crossed them.
She rolled herself back over and lay on the bed, watching as I removed her other jewellery and put it in my pocket. I asked her what she did for a living, and she told me she was a nurse at St Thomas’ Hospital. This would explain the bag I found with first aid equipment inside, including a roll of brown sticking plaster.
As I walked back over, she simply said “Please be gentle with me.” I never asked what she meant by that, as I smoothed a piece of the tape over her mouth and left her there.
No, I never drank on the job after that. The next morning, I realised just how stupid I had been, and what my mentor would have said. At any rate, I was lucky and I wasn’t going to ride any time after that.
Oh my sainted aunt – do you say that older woman there? Yeah – the one in the BoHo skirt. One of the things that never cease to amaze me is how women can think they can wear the clothes of yesteryear with complete impunity. Some of them can get away with it, but others – well, it defies belief.
Not that there is anything wrong with the bohemian look – in fact, it reminds me of another visit in London a few years later than the first one, after I had gained a bit more of a reputation. The strange thing about London is that, although even back in 1976 it was a bustling metropolis, there are parts of it where you can hear a pin drop, even on a Saturday. One such place was in Wimbledon, which is where I was this particular afternoon while the tennis was on.
I had been looking at this large house for some time, so as I slipped in through the open kitchen window at the back I was fairly certain nobody else was around. As I dropped myself onto the floor, I looked at the old world decor – wooden table and chairs, Aga stove, all indicating serious money in the place.
So naturally I made my way upstairs and started to search the rooms. It didn’t take me long to find their strongbox and the wife’s jewellery, and I was busy examining it when I heard something downstairs. Well, my motto is get out without been seen, but on this occasion there was a problem – nothing to get a grip on outside to climb back down. So I quietly slipped out onto the landing to see if I could see what was happening.
There was a young girl there – about 18 I’d say – wearing a patchwork minidress with ruffed sleeves and a tasselled fringe on the skirt. She was talking to somebody in a room downstairs, and had a duffle bag in her hand. “I’ve got everything we need here, Jen,” she said, “Let me get a drink from the kitchen and then we can start.” She dropped the bag on the floor and walked towards the way I had come in.
Quietly, but quickly, I walked down the stairs and stood by the door, looking in to see who the other person was. She looked like an older, taller version of the first girl, in a short sleeved floral print dress with a daisy chain belt around her waist, as she sat on the couch reading a book. From where she was sitting, she could not see me but she could see the front door, and the other girl was in the kitchen, so I had no way out without encountering them. Steeling myself for a longer stay than I had anticipated, I slipped past the door while she had her head dropped and walked into the kitchen.
The younger girl was standing by the counter, pouring some milk into glasses, so I waited until she but the glass bottle down before grabbing her and slapping my gloved hand over her mouth. As I did so, I could feel the beads on her skirt against my legs, and also that the front of her dress had a similar fringe. She tried to look at me, her eyes wide as I walked her back into the front room to see her sister.
“All right, Mary, let’s play your... Who the hell are you?”
“I presume you are Jen,” I said as I held Mary tightly to stop her struggling. “I want you to sit quite still, with your hands on your head, or your sister here will be hurt, and I have no desire to do that.” She stared at me with cold blue eyes, before slowly nodding and putting her hands up, her sleeves falling down her arms as she did so. “Now, Mary,” I said to the girl in my arms, “Do you promise not to scream or raise the alarm?” I felt her nodding, before saying “Good – go and sit next to your sister.” As I let her go, I put my hand in my jacket pocket to imitate a gun as I pointed a finger at the two women.
“Now girls,” I said as I reached down and picked up the duffle bag, putting it on a coffee table in front of them, “What are you doing home?”
“We thought with our parents out, we could – play a game,” Mary stammered, while Jen shot her a warning look. “A game,” I said as I looked at them both. “Well, is that equipment for the game in here?” The girls said nothing as I unzipped the bag and looked inside, then back at them, then back at the bag. “Interesting game,” I said as I picked up the neatly coiled skein of rope and looked at it, “Who gets to go first?”
“Are you robbing us?” Jen asked, and I nodded in reply. “Well then,” she said as she seemed to relax, “If you are robbing us, and we walked in, you would have to tie both of us up so that we could not raise the alarm. I promise you, we won’t resist – and you would have to do it very tightly to stop us.”
I looked at her, then Mary beside her, and was surprised to see a smile creeping over both their faces as they looked at each other. Both of them had beaded necklaces on – not things I would take, but it suited their dress styles. “So you want to play a game?” I said as I looked at them both. “Very well then – both of you, sit on the floor, back to back, and keep your hands on your heads for now.”
Both women were wearing strappy heels on their feet, but their smiles grew larger as they moved the coffee table and sat on the floor, back to back as I had said. I took some rope out and shook the lengths, before kneeling beside Mary and saying “Cross your ankles for me please.”
Half an hour passed as I dealt with each girl in turn. I passed some rope around their crossed ankles, securing them tightly together, and then passed the rope up and around their waists. Once I had dealt with both girls, I got them to shuffle together and then pass their arms around each other’s waist – they were both thin enough that they could do that comfortably. It was then a simple matter to tie Mary’s wrists in front of Jen, and then secure them to Jen's ankles, repeating the process for Jen on the other side. Finally, I tied their arms together on each side with some shorter lengths of rope, all the time asking them why they wanted to do this.
Turned out it was a story I had heard a few times before – a healthy obsession with Nancy Drew books, and wanting to know what it felt like. They had taken turns tying each other up on a Saturday afternoon for some weeks, and I had just interrupted their normal schedule. Very matter of fact about it they were.
Anyway, as I stood up to leave Mary said “I thought you were going to stop us raising the alarm?” Well, I hadn’t, but I wanted to see what they did. In the bag were two large silk squares, one blue and one red. I took the blue one, rolled it into a band and tied a knot in the middle. “You’re right,” I said as I walked over to Mary, “Open wide.” She smiled as I pulled the knot between her lips and tied it around her head, trapping her long brown hair as I did so. When I did the same to the red scarf and walked over to Jen, she simply said “We never saw your face, did we?” I smiled in return as I gagged her and left the two of them to enjoy their playtime.
I actually met Jen again a few years ago, and we had a little chat. She never gave away my secret, and I trust you to keep hers.
The world changed a lot after Thatcher came in – it seemed to get harder, and the fashions reflected that. All hard angular and cold, not soft and warm and flowing as I had been used to seeing. By the early eighties, the Yuppie and the power player were becoming more common. Now, for a cat burglar like me it was a golden time – new money meant new purchases, and new targets for me to hit.
It was around about 1982, and I was doing a moonlight walk around Knightsbridge when I saw the open bedroom window. It only took me a few minutes to shin up the drainpipe and let myself in, and as soon as I let myself in I knew I was around someone with lots of money and very little taste.
I mean, the room was a monument to Habitat- all metal and wood furniture, trying to be minimalist and yet functional, and all the time looking as if it would never last. It was easy for me to open the file boxes that were stacked under the dressing table and find jewellery inside, before I made my way down the stairs and started to search the main room.
It was while I was rummaging through a set of drawers that I heard the door opening and closing. Whoever it was was female, and speaking into some sort of brick shaped object which I later discovered was an early mobile phone. Through a crack in the door, I could see she was only just over five foot tall, with dark hair held up by what must have been a ton of hairspray or gel into a quiff, and wearing a light flesh coloured jacket and pants. What bothered me more, however, was the way she was talking and berating whoever was unfortunate enough to be on the other end of the conversation.
At any rate, she turned round and I could see her jacket was actually a bolero style one, short waisted and buttoned up, and she had on underneath a high necked cream silk blouse. She was also speaking in a clearly false posh accent, and telling whoever it was – well, decency does not permit me to repeat the words here.
From my searching, I knew she worked in the city and had a very large bank account. Fair enough – I have no problem with people earning money and spending it, so long as they accept the risk of someone like me coming along. What I do object to is when they think money makes them better than anyone, and believe it gives them the right to abuse other people. I looked round the room for something I had seen earlier, picked it up and waited for the flat owner to come into the room.
I stayed in the shadows as the door opened and the woman came in, throwing her jacket onto the back of her leather couch as she turned the light on. I think the last thing she expected was to be picked up off her feet by someone and carried to the other side of the room, before been made to sit on a metal dining chair. She barely had time to say anything before I slapped a length of duct tape over her mouth, and to snarl in my best Gentleman’s threatening voice that she was to do nothing.
I was determined not to let me see her – if only because I was struggling not to burst out laughing. From the sound of her voice, I had realised that in essence she was a bully – and the thing about most bullies is, if you stand up to them and show you are stronger they turn into cowards. Not all, but most – and I was lucky enough to find she was of that type. She actually whimpered as I pulled her arm to the side of the chair and taped it, elbow to wrist, to the metal frame. Within a few minutes, her arms were taped to the chair and I was wrapping tape around her ankles, securing them from behind to the front legs.
When I asked her to close her eyes, I felt a little bit bad, as I was going to do something I very rarely do in blindfolding my host. Having said that, she had annoyed me, and she needed to be taught a lesson in humility, so I pressed the tape hard over her closed eyes and left her there to listen as I continued searching her room. I could see her trying to wriggle free, but I knew she was going nowhere.
Nor did she for some time – I called the police to tell them of her predicament a couple of hours after leaving, and she was still sat there.
I was never normally that cruel and hard with somebody I visited, but that was the time when the downside of the government policies was starting to hit, and I felt she was showing so little compassion, something snapped. Compassion is an important thing in our work – something we need to use to set us apart from the common or garden thief.
I was spending some time in the North of England in 1987 – let’s just say I had been very successful in London and needed to take some time away from home – and I found myself this particular day in Newcastle as the midsummer ball season was in full swing. I don’t know how well you know the city, but at that time round the back of St James’ Park football ground there were a row of Victorian houses, that had been converted into student flats. For some reason, these flats tended to attract the richer students – probably because of their location – and my contacts in the area had told me on the right day there were rich pickings to be had.
It was a warm June evening when I was walking down the street, minding my own business until I turned into a stairwell that led to the basement. It took me a few minutes to pick the lock on the door, and make my way in and up to the top floor. There was nobody about, so I had plenty of time to gain entry into the first set of rooms.
I had no bag or anything with me, just my pockets and my wits, but the flat seemed to be occupied by three women judging by the decor and posters. I ignored the George Michael and Bruce Springsteen pictures as I searched the rooms, finding quite a few nice little items to add to my collection. I finished my search, opened the door – and ran straight into a young woman who was standing there crying.
She was wearing a strapless pink ball gown, the layered skirt coming down to just below her knees, and a pair of dark blue patent leather shoes. She stared at me, unsure of what to say as her reddened eyes took in the sight of a man dressed in black standing there, so I did the only thing I could.
“Is something wrong?”
She nodded and started crying again, so I took a handkerchief from my pocket and handed it to her. As she dabbed her eyes, I took her by the arm and asked her which room was hers. “In there,” she sobbed as she pointed to a door, so I took her in and helped her to sit down on the bed.
As she sat there, sobbing, I knew that I was going to have to stop her from raising the alarm, but at the same time she was obviously in distress, so I needed to be courteous in the way I did it. Eventually she looked up and said “Thanks – but who the hell are you?”
“Just your friendly neighbourhood cat burglar,” I said with a smile as I took the handkerchief back. “I’m sorry you walked in on me – do you mind me asking why you were crying?”
“My... My boyfriend dumped me today – and it’s my birthday as well...” she sobbed. “Anyway, that doesn’t matter, does it – you’re robbing me, so why should you be concerned?”
“Well, I hate to see any woman crying, and I think it you need sympathy more than anything at the moment. As it is, however, I do need to make sure I can get away. Tell me, where do you keep your scarves?”
“My scarves?” she said as she looked at me. Pointing to a wardrobe, I looked in and took out a long, dark brown silk scarf with tasselled ends. “Why don’t you put your hands in front of you,” I said as I came back over, “and I promise you I will not cause you any more hurt than you have already suffered today.”
I watched her as she raised her hands in front of her, and I wrapped the scarf round her wrists, going round and between so that her wrists were tied together as if she had a pair of silken cuffs on, put leaving two long ends free. Helping her to sit on the bed, I went back to the wardrobe and took out another long scarf, this one a bright pink and cotton. Using this to tie her ankles together, I then helped her to lie on her side and secured her wrists to the top of her bed, using the headboard as an anchoring point.
“Do you promise not to scream?” I asked as I took a blue silk square from the cupboard and folded it into a pad. “I won’t” she said before I pushed the cloth into her mouth, but I did not secure it in. “Don’t move for fifteen minutes,” I said as I left her in the room, trusting she would keep her word about not calling for help in that time. It gave me enough time to get to the other side of Freeman’s Park and get into my car, driving off into the distance.
I see that skirts and boots are back in fashion, particularly leather ones. I can still remember the time when the wearing of leather was a sign you were a little kinky, but it seems to have come full wheel in fashion again. The first time I remember was in the early 1990’s, when power dressing was the norm if you wanted to make an impression.
By that point I had given up almost totally on night time work – the years catch up with you – and instead concentrated on working in the afternoons when very few people tended to be home. Stockbroker belt was the best place for this line of work, so this particular time I was in the South of London, making my way across this lovely large lawn to a pair of patio doors.
Do you know what the easiest way to force an entry into a house with PVC windows at that time was? A lighter and a screwdriver, that’s how. I opened the door within two minutes and started to search downstairs, keeping things as neat as possible as I looked for things I could take.
As I was searching, I found a large box, which I managed to force open. I was surprised, however, about what was inside – a large collection of neatly coiled ropes of various types and colours, a number of balls with straps through them, and other items that could be used to gag someone. I knew something of the BDSM scene – after all, some people from that circle move in mine – but this was a new thing to me. As I held up one particularly large ball, wondering how the heel somebody could put that in their mouth, I heard a deep voice saying “I see you found my toys.”
I slowly stood up and turned round to see this rather stout woman standing there, looking at me. A yellow checked coat was over her body, under which I could see a black roll necked sweater and black leather skirt, and there were a pair of knee length black patent leather boots on her legs. She had her hands on her hips, and was looking at me with a mixture of bemusement and anger.
“Err... yes, I do seem to have found your toys,” I said as I dropped the ball gag back in. “I also have been looking for your valuables, and I really wish I could continue looking. The thing is, I’m not sure if I can continue looking if you are standing there watching me.”
“No,” the woman said as she put her hand to her chin, “I can see that might be awkward. So, you are a thief, are you?”
“I like to think I am – why?”
“Ever robbed somebody famous?”
“Oh, a few actresses in my time, the odd banker’s wife and Sloane Ranger – why do you ask?”
“How very appropriate,” she said as she slipped her coat off. “I came home early to prepare for a surprise for my husband and I find my house been robbed. I should call the police – but I’m afraid you pulled the phone away from the wall before you started searching.”
Now, I knew I had done no such thing – after all, I had not got past the front room – but when she walked into the hallway and came back with the telephone set, throwing it on the couch, I realised that she was wanting me to help her with some sort of game.
“Of course,” I said, “I would have closed the blinds as well to prevent anyone seeing me from outside.”
“Of course,” she replied as she let the venetian blinds drop over the windows, making the room darker as they did so. “And naturally you forced me to the floor and had your way with me...”
“I’m sorry,” I said quickly, “I don’t do that. I’m not that sort of person – I respect women, not use them.”
“Oh, a rare beast indeed,” she said as she sat in a chair and poured herself a drink. “So, then, you had to secure me before you escaped. Tell me, what is your preferred way?”
“It depends on what I have handy,” I said as I reached into the box, “and how much time I had. For someone who would give me as much trouble as you, I would have to make very sure you could not raise the alarm.”
“Oh goodie,” was her response as she put her glass down. “So, where do you want me?”
I threw a large cushion from the couch on the floor. “Please,” I said, “lie on your stomach and rest your head on the cushion while I secure your arms.”
There were several short lengths in the box, so I arranged her arms so that her elbows were resting in the palm of the other hand and tied her elbows to her wrists, as well as her arms together in the centre. Crossing her ankles, I tied them tightly together with another length of rope, the leather squeaking as I pulled the rope tightly around them and my host cooing as she felt the restriction around her legs.
I helped her to turn over and sit up, before actually doing something I very rarely do – tying rope around her arms and chest. She was the one who asked me to do it, so that her breasts were sticking out as her arms were pulled in. I then helped her to shuffle over so that she could sit against the front of a chair, and took a long length of rope out. I used that effectively cocoon her legs, from knees to ankles, and then pull her ankles back and secure them to her wrists. She actually screamed with delight when I did that.
Now, I don’t use ball gags in my work – they are too bulky to carry around – but when I brought a clean washcloth and some tape in from the kitchen she just said “No – I prefer the taste of rubber in my mouth. Use the black one – it goes with my outfit.” Well, she was the one in charge, so I took the black gag from the case and pushed it into her open mouth, he lips closing around it as I strapped it around her head.
Do you know, I could swear she smiled at me as I took what I had found so far and left her there? As I walked off, I saw a large Rover pull up and a well dressed man stepping out, heading for the front door. Hoping he enjoyed his afternoon as much as I had, I walked in the opposite direction...
Maybe I was right anyway – wearing leather does give a sign of kinkiness...
Ah – now there is a recent return to fashion I do not like – the fur coat or jacket, even if they claim it is “fake fur”. I was never as militant as others, but in the sixties and seventies if I visited a place and found a fur coat I always made sure it was left in a state where it was – well, I’m not proud of it, but a statement had to be made.
Do you know they made a brief return some fifteen years ago? It was some Parisian fashion house who wanted to make them trendy, but it made me sick. Anyway, a few years after that, when I had almost retired and moved over to this business, there was a small incident that made me pay a very special visit.
I was about to pass my apprentice at that point – he had been with me for a few years, and was ready to strike out on his own. I met him for a drink one night and he appeared with this statuesque blonde beside him. She had long hair, green eyes, and a body to kill for – I could see why he liked her – especially the way her jumper fitted around her curves. She had on a blue denim miniskirt and cowboy boots, but the most striking thing she was wearing was this long brown fur coat, which was open as she walked in.
We shared some pleasantries, had a couple of drinks, and then she excused herself to visit the powder room. We watched her walk off, before my apprentice turned and said “John, I need your help.”
“Of course,” I said, “What’s wrong?”
“It’s that coat,” he said as he took a drink. “She claims it is fake fur, but it’s real – I can tell from the colour and sheen. She absolutely refuses to get rid of it – but I can’t stand the fact she is wearing it. Can you have a word with her – I told her you were an antiques dealer, so you know what things are when you see them.”
Well, I knew just from looking at her she was not a woman who would change her mind easily. “I’ll tell you what,” I said, “Are you planning to see her tomorrow?”
“Yeah – I’m going to pick her up at six thirty. Why?”
“Be late,” I said as I took a drink, “say seven. I’ll take it from there – I think a little shock therapy might me in order.”
I knew she lived in a house in Chiswick, so I made my way there for the late afternoon. At about six pm, I pulled the balaclava I had down over my face and rang her door bell.
When she opened it, the last thing she expected to see was a stout man in a balaclava waiting there, especially one who pushed her back into her house and held her against the wall. “I hear you own a fur coat,” I said in a voice I sued sometimes to scare people, “and I don’t like people who wear fur coats. Where is it?”
“It’s in the cupboard,” she said quietly, “but it’s fake fur, honest.” “Show me,” I said as I grabbed her arm, and she opened the door and took the coat out. I put it to my nose, smelled and said “this is real, not fake. You need to be taught a lesson.”
“What... what are you going to do,” she asked as she looked at me. I tell you, I would have burst out laughing if it was not so important to scare her. “Put it on,” I snarled, and she slowly slipped the coat on over the white dress she was wearing. I reached into my pocket and took out a length of rope, before turning her round and saying “face the wall and hands behind your back.”
Well, as I tied her wrists together, she must have wondered what was happening. A second length was tied around her right elbow, around her chest twice and then her left elbow, holding them in place and the coat around her body. I then took a third length and tied it around her waist, forcing the coat against her as I pulled tightly before securing the ends to her wrists. “You have deprived an animal of their skin,” I said as I pushed her into the room. “Get on your knees and learn what it felt like to walk in that.”
She looked at me, convinced I was some sort of nutter, before falling onto her knees. I quickly tied her ankles together, before making her lie on her side and tying her legs together above and below her knees, making sure the coat was wrapped around her at all times. Eventually, I stood up and looked at her, like a brown fur sausage as she struggled on the floor.
“One more thing,” I said as I went back to the hall cupboard and rook out a brown woollen scarf I had seen in there. “You need to taste it as well,” I said, and as she opened her mouth to protest I forced the scarf in, pulling it tightly; and knotting it at the base of her neck. “No more animal persecution,” I shouted as I ran out of the house, leaving her there wondering what the hell had happened.
My assistant told me later how he had let himself in and found her there, tears streaming down her face. When he freed her, she swore there and then not to wear anything like fur, and got rid of the coat the next day.
Hmm – maybe I should try that on some of these young girls who wear fur hooded coats these days? After all, things never really go out of fashion – including ways of dealing with problems,..
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