Christmas and The Cat
And so this is Christmas,
For weak and for strong,
For rich and the poor ones,
The old and the young
And so happy Christmas,
For black and for white,
For yellow and red ones,
Let's stop all the fight
Would you mind handing me that star? Thanks – now just let me stretch up there….. Perfect. I love this time of year, just love it. Of course, these days I have to watch what I’m doing – too many mince pies and I’ll be able to play Santa Claus without the padding – but there’s something about celebrating the end of another year with family and friends.
Of course, in my line of work I had the option as to whether or not I took a holiday at this time of year. On the one hand, there were pickings to be had if you watched and planned carefully. On the other, there are so many people concentrated together in houses it makes the noble art of cat burglary a tad too difficult, if you follow my drift. Having said that, I do remember a few times around Christmas that do bring home what this season can be about, if we allow it to be.
Peace on Earth, can it be
Years from now, perhaps we'll see
See the day of glory
See the day, when men of good will
Live in peace, live in peace again
Back in 1977, when this was first played, I was operating mainly in the West side of London. A week or two before Christmas that year, I made my way into a small house in the back streets of Kensington, and found the jewellery boxes without too much trouble. It was as I was closing the lids that I heard the door closing, and hiding in the shadows behind the doorway I waited to see what would happen.
A young woman with light brown hair cut in a bob walked into the bedroom, turned the light on and started to take off the beige overcoat she was wearing. She had obviously been at some sort of party, judging by the paper streamers that were in her hair and over her bare shoulders. Her outfit was a white gypsy style blouse – the ones with a round yoke and sleeves that could come down to leave the shoulders bare – a pale blue knee length skirt and cork sandals. She rubbed her bare arms, turned round and let out a scream when she saw me standing there behind the door.
I mean, I expect a reaction when I’m disturbed in my work, but this had to have been one of the loudest screams I had ever heard. Only the fact we were in a back street saved my bacon that time, as I went over and put my gloved hand over her mouth. She stared at me, her blue eyes wide in terror, as I told her to calm down and stop screaming, and that I had no intention of attacking her unless she kept up the racket.
Eventually, she got the message, and I took my hand away and told her to keep quiet. She sat on the edge of the bed and listened as I explained I was only there to steal her things, and I just wanted to make my getaway. I also had to explain that I had to stop her from raising the alarm, at least for a little while, and it would be better for her if she did as I asked.
That was when she asked me how I was going to stop her from screaming out again, and do you know I had no idea what I was going to do. Watching her all the time, I went over to a chest of drawers that was in the room, and looking through the drawers I found several pairs of stockings. Normally, I preferred not to use these for tying anyone up, as they can tighten very quickly and become incredibly uncomfortable, but it looked as if this was all I had. Grabbing several pairs, as well as two pairs of socks, I walked over and dumped them on the bed next to the girl, after which I sat down next to her and told her that everything would be all right.
I handed her the socks, and told her to put one pair on her feet and the second pair on her hands. She blinked, then reached down and took off her cork sandals before pulling the socks over her feet, and then on her hands. I smiled at her, and asked her to turn with her back to me as I picked up one pair of stockings. These I used to tie her wrists together, taking care to keep the nylon over the socks in order to avoid marking her wrists. There was also the added advantage that the socks would it more difficult for her to even attempt untying the knot – as much for her own safety as well as my security.
Within a few minutes, she was lying on her side on the bed, her ankles tied together n the same way as her wrists, and I was rummaging in the cupboard for a couple of belts, which I used to bind her legs together and her arms to her side. Finally, I took the last pair of stockings, balled them up and pushed them into her mouth, warning her not to try to push them out or I would hear her. Kissing her on her forehead, I left her struggling on the bed as I took my leave.
Have you been invited to any Christmas Parties? I tend to avoid them if I can, but they can be a great social leveller. There have been a couple of occasions when people have returned from parties to disturb me, such as the one I just described, but the funniest of them all happened a few years after that one. Funny, I hasten to add, because of what happened, and because for once I was forced not to do something I would normally do in such circumstances.
I’d gone out to the suburbs – the city centre had got a little too hot that year – and made my way into a large detached house. Working my way through the rooms, it was obvious I had hit a treasure trove, so it took me some time to establish just what I wanted to take. As I placed my choices on a table, the door flung open, and a loud female voice called out “IT’S CHRRRISSSTMASSSS!!”
The woman was tall, with long blonde hair, and quite obviously had drunk enough to put most sailors to shame. She staggered in, waving a bottle of champagne and weaving from side to side, so that I had to catch her when she approached me. She looked up at me, with my black outfit and baseball cap on, and slurred “Hello handsome – do you want to dance?”
This young lady was dressed literally in black and white – once she had let her coat slip to the floor that is. A white dress that buttoned down the front, with a black roll neck sweater underneath and a wide leather belt around her waist, and black baggy leather boots. She looked at me with eyes that couldn’t possibly focus, or else she’d have realised this was a stranger in her front room.
Well, what else could I do? I took her by the waist, walked over to her music centre, and turned on the radio. Then, taking her hand in my mine, I led her on a waltz around her living room as the Berlin Philharmonic played Strauss. We danced for about twelve minutes, and then she collapsed with my help into a large wooden armchair and leaned back, a laugh escaping from her lips.
Taking her coat off the floor, I folded it neatly and placed it on the back of another chair. I then knelt next to her, and whispered in her ear “Would you like to play a Christmas game?”
“A game? Oh, yes please,” she squealed, “What sort of game shall we play?”
“I know a good one called Escape – but I need something for it, and I wonder if you can tell me if you have any?”
“What do you need?”
“Some washing line.”
“Is this a kinky game?”
“Only if you want it to be….”
She laughed again, and told me to look under the kitchen sink. I left her there, gently rocking from side to side, and found the coil of rope as well as a pair of scissors. When I came back in, she was looking at the pile of items on her table with a curious expression.
“Those look like my things,” she slurred, “Why are they on the table?”
“I’ll tell you when we start playing our game,” I said as I cut a length of rope off the end of the coil. “Are you ready to start?”
“Oh yes please,” she said as she put her hands together, “What do you want me to do?”
“I want you to sit still and give me your hand,” I said as I knelt to the left of her. She giggled, and gave me her right hand which I laid gently on the armrest. Two minutes later, her wrist was firmly tied down to the armrest, but I made sure it wasn’t going to cut off her circulation.
“Hey, I can’t move. You didn’t tell me it was that sort of game?” She said as I cut another length of line off the coil, and took her other wrist.
“Well, I did say it was called Escape,” I said as I bound her other wrist down to the other arm of the chair. “The idea is that I’m going to try and stop you from stopping me taking your stuff.”
“Oh My God,” she screamed in laughter, “Are you telling me you’re a burglar? That’s priceless!” She laughed as I used another length of rope to tie her ankles together and then to a leg of the chair, pulling her booted legs to one side as I did so.
“Soon be finished,” I said as I used the remaining line to tie her waist to the back of the chair. Something told me I should make sure she was supported, but not too restrictive in my binding.
“So what are you going to do now, Mister Burglar – gag me?” She laughed as I left the room for a moment, selected a holdall and came back to start filling it.
“Not unless you want me to do – I think you might be better off just having a nice sleep,” I said as I looked at her in the chair.
“Yeah – a sleep might be nice,” she slurred as her eyes slowly closed. As I filled up the bag, I watched her head sink forward on her chest, and a loud snoring sound started to fill the room. I picked up the bag, made sure she was firmly enough secured so that she wouldn’t fall off the chair and hurt herself, and slipped out of the house.
I saw the police report in the paper a few days later – the poor woman had been so drunk, when she woke up the next morning she thought at first it had all been a dream. When she found she really was tied up, her shouts were heard by the milkman, who broke in and freed her.
Ah – do you see that van outside? That’s the charity collection for the soup kitchen – it’s all too easy to forget that people can be lonely and depressed at Christmas, and we need to look out for them. A couple of times my attempts to rob a place have been cut short when I’ve come across something more important than taking trinkets.
First time was in the late 60’s. I’d broken into a flat in Mayfair, but needed to relieve myself before I set off. Opening the door to the bathroom, I got the shock of my life. Slumped on the floor was a young woman, no more than 22 I’d reckon, dressed in a towelling robe and a turban over her hair. She had a glassy expression in her eyes, and I saw by her side an empty bottle of vodka and a bottle half filled with sleeping pills.
Fortunately, she was still alive, but suicide is a desperate thing to do at any time, let alone Christmas. I sat her up, and threw cold water over her head to try and revive her. Picking her up, I took her into the bedroom and laid her in the recovery position on her bed, then used her telephone to call for an ambulance, telling them the front door would be open. I had no thoughts of taking her stuff then – I slipped out and watched from a safe distance to make sure the ambulance crew found her, then slipped into the night.
The second time would have been in the mid-80’s. I was out in the country, and got into an old cottage to se what I could find. What I found instead was an elderly woman, in her late 60’s, lying on the floor where she had slipped. She looked up at me and said “Help me.”
Well, what would you have done? I checked that her pulse was strong, picked her up and laid her on her couch. The heating was off, so I found some warm blankets and a hot water bottle, and made sure she was comfortable before calling an ambulance. Once again, I slipped out and watched from a distance to make sure she got help. Never, ever think that because you don’t see someone they’re all right – especially the elderly.
Did I ever tell you about Detective Sergeant James “Bulldog” Drummond? No? Now there was a character – one of the few policemen I had respect for, because although he came close to catching me a few times, he always played fair and acknowledged that he was beaten when he was. One year, I decided it was time I paid old “Bulldog” a visit at his house, just to see what would happen – it turned out to be an interesting evening.
He lived on an estate, in a semi-detached Barrett Box, and it was no trouble to sneak around the back and force an entry through the kitchen door. I knew he wasn’t home – I had discreetly checked when he was on duty – so I thought I would have no problem just having a look around and seeing what I could leave as a message for him.
Anyway, in his front room I found a number of Christmas presents that he had been wrapping, with a ball of strong red ribbon and a few bows left lying around. I picked them up, with absolutely no idea of what I was going to do with them, and continued to search the house. When I got into the master bedroom, however, I got the fright of my life.
There, lying on top of the duvet, was his wife. A stunningly beautiful woman, in her late thirties but with a body that looked ten years younger, she was wearing a red silk teddy nightie with black lace trim on the collar and hem. I was about to leave the room when she woke up, looked at me and said “Who the hell are you?”
Well, you know what I do, so I turned round and said “Does your husband ever talk about his work?”
“Sometimes,” she replied as she sat up, “Why?”
“I’m the Cat.”
It took a couple of minutes for this to register with her, then she said “And you think breaking into James’ house is a good thing? He admires you, but he also wants you caught.”
I walked over and sat down on the bed. “Yes, I know – but I can’t resist a challenge. So, what are you going to do, Mrs Drummond?”
She looked at me and smiled. “I don’t know,” she said as she ran her fingers through her brown hair. “By rights, I should scream, but you seem a nice enough guy. What do you want to do?”
“Get out of here without you calling your husband,” I said honestly. “Is there any chance of that?”
“Possibly – if you help me to set up a surprise for Jimmy. I’ve heard you’re good at tying people up – tie me up as a surprise present for him.”
I have to admit, I was shocked at this request, and I must have shown it. “Oh, don’t worry, I won’t tell him it was you – I just want to see his face when he comes back and finds me there.”
Well, as you know, I do like a laugh at times, and I had an idea. I took the ribbon and bows from my pocket and put them on the bed. “I suggest you go to the toilet, Mrs Drummond – it may be some time before you can go again,” I said, and she walked off to relieve herself.
When she came back in, I asked her to turn round and stand with her back to me, and her wrist crossed behind her back. I took the roll of red ribbon, and quickly wound it around her wrists in a figure of eight pattern, then after knotting it off I passed the ribbon around her waist so that her wrists were firmly held in the small of her back. Cutting the ribbon free, she looked over her shoulder as she twisted her wrists around.
“Not too uncomfortable,” I asked, and she shook her head. “No – but it is firm. I’m not going to move them for a while, am I?”
“That’s the idea,” I said as I helped her to sit on the edge of the bed. Placing her feet together side by side, I wound the ribbon around her ankles and feet so that they were held firmly together, then around her legs both above and below her knees. She shuffled back on her bottom so that she was sat with her back against the headboard, and smiled as she wriggled her legs around.
“Jimmy’s right,” she said, “You do know how to tie a girl up. So, how are you going to shut me up?”
“Like this, I said as I took a red scarf and rolled it into a ball. “Open wide please.” I pushed the scarf into her mouth, wound more ribbon around her mouth and head to keep it in place, then took a large red bow and stuck it onto the ribbon over her lips.
“There – a lovely Christmas present for him,” I said as she sat there, watching me turn the lights off and leave the room. Detective Sergeant Drummond always suspected it was me, but as his wife told him it was a masked intruder, he had no way of proving it.
So yes, a difficult time but often an interesting one as well. I’ll let you get off now – do feel free to drop in after the New Year, and the compliments of the season to you and yours.