I’m a model; you know what I mean,
And I shake my little tush on the catwalk.
A very, very silly song, isn’t it? Sitting out here, however, and looking at people as they walk up and down the high street, you do realise that everyone has a particular view on what is and is not fashionable in their own minds. After all, very few people can afford what they show in Milan or Paris or London. Over the years I have seen so many different styles worn by women that it all becomes a blur to me. As with nightwear, however, I have seen quite a few women clothed in ways that to them were fashionable, but may raise an eyebrow with other people.
For example, do you see that young woman walking down on the other side of the road – the one in the black dress? They say that fashions come and go, but the little black dress will always be there. I’m not sure it was meant to be worn with a pair of black trousers, however, but that seems to be more and more common these days.
Despite the reputation you may think we cat burglars have, however, I have only ever once in my career come across a woman in that item of clothing while working. It was back in the late 60’s, and I was hopping over the rooftops on my way to a penthouse flat in the East End of London.
Arriving at my destination, I forced open the skylight and let myself drop down into the flat. It didn’t take my too long to find what I was looking for – the large portrait on the wall is always a dead giveaway for a safe – and after a few minutes the door was lying open as I availed myself of the contents. Silently closing the safe door, I was in the act of replacing the portrait when I heard the sound of a key turning in a door. Finishing the job I was doing, I stood back and hid behind a curtain that lay across the front windows.
She was a stunner, I can tell you, when I caught a glimpse of her entering the room. The dress was an Yves San Laurent creation, with a round yoke and just above the knee, and she was wearing a pair of long evening gloves in black silk, along with a mink stole around her shoulders. She walked over to the table, and lit a cigarette which she placed in the ashtray there.
Through the curtain, I watched her looking around the room, and there seemed to be something bothering her. As she was looking at the table, I realised that there was something on there that should not have been – my torch. It didn’t take her long to realise it was there too, as she picked it up and looked it over.
My one saving grace at the time was that her back was towards me, so I quietly made my way over and placed my gloved hand over her mouth. Her hands shot up and grabbed hold, but I whispered in her ear to be a good girl and not struggle. She looked over her shoulder at me, dressed in black, and let her hands fall to her side.
I asked her if she promised not to scream, and as she nodded I let my hand go from her mouth and take her by the arm. She turned round and asked me who I was, so as always I told her the truth – I was robbing her, and would have to prevent her raising the alarm.
Nodding, she asked if I was going to hurt her, and I reassured her that was never going to happen. I asked her where she would be most comfortable, and she responded by taking a seat in a large oak armchair and crossing her legs. Keeping an eye on her, I pulled the connecting wire for the telephone from the wall and made my way to her bedroom. I asked her to join me for a few moments, and then she could return to her seat, so she stood up and joined me.
Some time later, I stood up from where I was kneeling on the floor. She was sat in the chair, legs still crossed, but with each ankle secured to the opposite leg of the chair with a long plain scarf. Her wrists were also secured to the arms of the chair with scarves, and a black scarf was tied tightly into her mouth. I finished placing her jewellery into my sack, kissed her on the forehead and made my exit as quietly as I had arrived. In the papers some days later, there was a report of the incident, with the woman claiming the man who did this to her had been masked and threatened her. While she was no Audrey Hepburn, I was grateful for her little white lie.
Do you want another cup of tea? I could see you eyeing up that young filly in the tight jeans as she walked down the road. Do you know, every decade seems to have their time when trouser legs in boots are considered the done thing? I remember a couple of times in the seventies when I was disturbed by women dressed like that – the sixties and seventies were always the best time for that sort of look.
The first time was a complete surprise to me, as a matter of fact. It also marked one of the rare occasions when I made a mistake as to where I was intending to visit. It was one of the provincial cities, and I had been following the daughter of a very wealthy London jeweller as she attended a university there. I knew daddy had given her a few choice items, and as she was a student I did not think I would have a problem getting into her room at the halls of residence she lived in and quickly taking them.
Her room was on the ground floor of the halls, so one early evening while dinner was being served I slipped the window open and made my way in. I had only time to close the window before the room door opened and a female student came in.
Two things were striking about this woman – the red permed hair she had and the fact that she was not the daughter of the jeweller. She was about five foot eight, and was wearing a white chunky sweater and blue jeans with brown leather wader-style boots over her legs. She also had a red bandana tied over her hair.
Standing there staring at me, I realised she would scream if left alone, so I grabbed her and threw her down onto the bed by the window, clamping my gloved hand over her mouth and closing the blinds with my other hand. She struggled like mad under me, and I had to resort, it pains me to see, to physical violence as I slapped her across the cheeks and told her to shut up.
On her table was a ball of twine, and rolling her over I held her wrists together behind her back while I grabbed the ball and tied the free end around one wrist. Continuing to wrap the twine around and between her wrists, I soon had them secured tightly behind her back. Pulling her ankles up behind her legs, I pulled tightly and secured her ankles together in the same way. I regretted the lack of finesse, and the rough handling of the young lady, but having made a mistake I had to get out of there as fast as possible.
While I had been tying the twine around her, the girl’s face had been buried in a pillow, but before letting her raised her head I pulled the bandana off and scrunched it into a ball. Getting off the girl, she rolled onto her side and would have started to scream the place down if I had not pushed the scarf into her mouth and wound the clear tape around her head to hold it in place.
The second incident happened fairly soon after that. As I was in the area, I spent some time looking around the local housing estates, and had identified one or two houses with what looked like more wealthy residents that I may be able to offset some of my expenses around. This particular house was what gets laughingly called a “Barrat Box” these days – three bedrooms, large lounge, own gardens, in little estate on the outskirts of town. The good thing about these estates is that they all had walled back gardens, so getting into the house from the rear was no problem.
Making my way around the house, I was upstairs appraising some very nice jewellery when I saw a woman walking up the garden path. She was dressed in grey slacks and a red jumper, with a thin grey belt around her waist, and red ankle boots with the bottoms of her trouser legs tucked into them. She also had a red cravat tied around her neck, and was walking as if she owned the entire world.
Gets up my dander a bit, people like that, thinking they are better than the rest of us by dint of having slightly more money. I was stood there, wondering if or how I was going to make a getaway without being discovered, when that decision was made moot for me. The woman came in the front door, up the stairs and into the room where I was standing.
Up close and personal, she was a lot older than she had looked walking down the road. Her light hair was starting to grey, and there were age lines around her eyes and mouth. That, of course, was not the major problem at the point – which was the fact that I had to deal with her. So, as always, I said “good afternoon”, and then jumped onto the bed and grabbed her arm as she turned to try and run out.
“Don’t hurt me,” she said, and I calmly told her that all I wanted to do was leave with her jewellery. “They can be replaced on insurance,” I said, “but your health cannot be, and I have no wish to harm you. Please calm down and do as I say.”
She sat down on the bed and watched as I looked through the drawers. “What are you looking for?” she asked, and I replied that I needed something to tie her up with. “Why do you want to do that?” She asked, “I won’t cause you any trouble, promise.” “Sorry, lady, but I need to be sure,” I said as I pulled a belt out from her husband’s clothes, and asked her to lie face down on the bed.
Within a few minutes I had secured her hands together, palm to palm, behind her back and I was wrapping a pair of stockings around her ankles, over her boots. Turning her over, I stuffed a pair of panties into her mouth, and taking the scarf off from around her neck I rolled it into a band and tied it into her mouth, keeping the panties in place. She lay on her side, watching me as I gathered my things together and then left her to struggle on the bed.
Yes, mutton dressed as lamb is a phrase you can apply to a lot of people out there, trying to dress ten or twenty years younger than they really are. You don’t have to be Joan Rivers or Esther Rantzen to fall into that category, I can assure you. There was a time during the seventies, however, when girls tended to do that, and sometimes today you get young women who dress in an older style because they feel more comfortable that way. Utility clothing, or whatever they call it, but it can make for some interesting encounters as well.
Outside of Manchester, there are a number of larger country houses in an area called Alderly Edge. Very exclusive, very expensive, and in the mid-eighties I visited some of them in a professional capacity. Of course I tried to visit when there was no-one home, but on one occasion I neglected to check if the housekeeper was in or not.
I’d watched the family driving away, and then walked up to the back door and unlocked it with my skeleton keys. Large grounds in walled gardens – so easy to sneak in and out of. Keeping the rucksack I’d brought with me on my back, I made my way from room to room, taking what I could as I went around.
So, when I was hit on the back with a brush, it was a little bit of a surprise, but I’m made of fairly stern stuff. Turning round, I saw standing there a young woman in a brown roll neck sweater, check blouse and denim waistcoat and dress, and brown boots on her legs. She was holding the brush as if to attack, but I could see in her eyes that she was afraid, so I grabbed the brush handle and pulled it off her, at which point she fell to her knees.
Taking her by the arm, I gently brought her to her feet and asked her not to scream or try anything like that again. I then asked her to take me to her utility room – there was something I wanted to look for.
Looking at me, she led the way down to the ground floor, where in a garage area was situated the washing and drying machines.
I asked her who she was, and she told me she was the housekeeper for the family. I reassured her at that point that I would not harm her if she did exactly as I told her. Picking up a couple of lengths of washing line, I asked her where she kept the first aid kit. Pointing to a shelf behind me, I opened the green box and found a roll of Elastoplast. Taking a Stanley knife down as well, I cut the washing line into ten foot lengths, and then asked the young lady to turn around with her back to me.
Taking her wrists, I pulled up the cuffs of her blouse and started to wrap a length of rope around her wrists, over the sleeves of her jumper. While doing this, I asked her why she dressed this way, and she told me she was a fan of those old seventies detective series. She also told me she felt comfortable dressed in this manner, and who was I to pass judgement on her given what I was doing?
Nodding, I finished tying her wrists together and tied the loose ends to a belt loop in her dress, before helping her to sit on a blanket on the floor while I tied her ankles together. Pulling the rope tightly, I made sure she was unable to move her legs up and down, in case she managed to slip out of her boots, and then tied her legs together below her knees as well.
She looked at the ropes around her ankles and legs, and nodded as I asked her to put her lips together while I stuck a length of sticking plaster over them. Making sure she was alright, I made my way out of the utility room – and straight into the wife of the house owner.
Now, despite the fact she had hurt me, I had a grudging respect fro the woman I’d left in the utility room. At least she tried to put up a fight. This one, however – my god, she was one old piece of mutton. Her brown hair was obviously a wig, and she had enough make-up on to make Joan Collins look good. The black jacket she was wearing was tight waisted, with shoulder pads that could take out your eye at 10 feet, and a tight black hobble skirt with loose white leather boots. She stood there, open mouthed, and then stepped back against the wall silently mouthing something.
Always take advantage of the situation, I say, so I stood in front of her and kept my eyes on her as I tore a strip of sticking plaster off the roll in my hand. She kept staring at me, eyes wide, as I stuck the tape over her mouth and, taking her by the arm, led her back up to the master bedroom.
Once there, she sat on the bed as I pulled a variety of scarves out of her cupboard, and used them to tie her spread eagled to the bed, removing her boots first so that she would be a little more comfortable. I hadn’t been into that room yet, so she had to watch as I emptied her jewellery into my sack, than made my way out of the house.
Quite a nice haul in the end, that one.
I’m sorry, dear, can I help you? Stay there and have another drink – I’ll be back in a few minutes.
Sorry about that – I still have to earn an honest penny these days, after all. So, which of these young ladies has caught your eye recently? After all, there do seem to be a lot of them about.
Do you see that one over there in the yellow sun dress? She reminds me of a young girl I met when I was coming to the end of my career a few years back. I’d given up almost totally on the climbing side of things by then, but I still visited houses from time to time to see what I could find.
This particular house was actually a terraced one, but on a very quiet street, so I was able to get in without being noticed. I slipped upstairs to see what I could find, and availed myself of a few items that were there, and pocketed what I could when I heard the front door opening.
Now, this was broad daylight, so the black outfit would have been a little conspicuous. For these times, I wore a dark suit, shirt and tie, so that I looked like a normal businessman and not too out of place. Realising that whoever had come in was likely to see me, I reached into my jacket pocket, pulled out a pair of sunglasses and put them on. I then quietly made my way down the stairs, where I could see a young lady standing in the hallway, talking on the telephone.
She was wearing a short yellow dress, with spaghetti straps over her shoulders, and white leggings that went down to her knees. I waited on the stairs as she completed her telephone call, then as she replaced the handset I slipped down and put my gloved hand over her mouth. Whispering in her ear, I told her to keep quiet and she wouldn’t be hurt, and she nodded to show that she understood.
Taking my hand away, she turned to look at me, and saw that I meant her no real harm. She asked who I was, and I said I was just a burglar robbing her house. I also asked if she was going to cause my any trouble, and she shook her head. I like it when my job is made easier like that – saves so much time.
Taking her into the kitchen, I asked her to sit down while I searched fro something to tie her up with. Finding a roll of silver duct tape, I gently took her hands behind her back and started to tape them together. I secured them to a rung at the back of the chair, and then taped her bare ankles against the legs of the chair.
She looked at me as I poured a glass of water, and offered her it to sip, explaining that as it was a warm day she may appreciate it later. As she took a drink from the glass that I held to her lips, she actually thanked me for not hurting her while robbing her house. I smiled in return as I pressed the tape over her lips, and then asked her to close her eyes as I blindfolded her with more tape.
Slipping out of her front door, I walked quickly down the street and as far away from there as I could.
Have I made any visits recently? Actually, yes – and a lovely lady I met that time as well. You know the antiques fair I went to in Glasgow? Well, I got talking there to a woman who was selling some Charles Rennie Macintosh wares, and we got on like a house on fire. She had on this beautiful silk dress, cream with a green and brown floral pattern and a matching scarf loose around her neck. At any rate, she asked me back to her place for a drink, and I graciously accepted – Glasgow is not really a place to be on your own after dark.
She put on a green leather blouson jacket, and we made her way back to a flat in the west end of the city. She opened a bottle of wine, and we sat and talked about all sorts of things. As she went to find another bottle, I looked over her collection of boxes and other ornate items.
I was so engrossed in them that she took be surprise, asking me what I was looking at. I confessed that I was looking at hr collection, and then let slip that if I were a younger man, I may have been tempted to steal them. She smiled at me, her blue eyes sparkling under her greying hair, and handing me a glass she asked me to explain my comment.
Well, what with the wine and so on, I told her that at one time I was a burglar. She laughed and made some comment about how all antique traders are crooks, but I assured her I was telling the truth. She listened as I told her one or two of my tales, her eyes widening at some of my exploits.
I realised I may have made a small mistake, and apologised, but she stopped me and told me that she had a secret desire – to be tied up and left by a robber. Would I be willing to fulfil that desire? She unwrapped the scarf from around her neck, and offered it to me to use.
Well, I could not resist such an offer, but I first asked her if she had anything I could use to tie her up with, and also to sit herself down somewhere. She left the room for a moment or two, and came back with a roll of cotton cord and a pair of scissors. As I suggested she take care of any personal issues before we started, I cut a few lengths of cord.
Ten minutes later, she was sat on a long recliner, with me sat behind her tying her wrists together and then securing them around her waist. I stood up, knelt in front of her and crossed her stocking clad ankles before securing them together. Lifting the skirt of her dress up a little, I tied her legs together above and below her knees before lifting the hem back.
I asked her if there was anyone she wanted me to contact, but she said no, her secretary would find her in the morning. She also suggested I take some items, but I said that would only be possible if I left payment. After all, this was a fantasy for her, and fun for me, but anything taken would be paid for.
Having written her a cheque for a couple of boxes, and left it hidden in her room, I returned and took the long scarf she had given me earlier. Rolling it into a thin band, I passed it twice around and into her mouth before securing it at the base of her neck. Blowing her a kiss, I left her lying on the recliner and took my purchases with me.
So, fashions come and fashions go, but people will always remain the same. You’d better get going – I have more customers to serve, and more things to take care of afterwards…