The Seventies Cat







I guess the memories started to come to mind when I was doing a recent security consultancy for a young heiress.  She had been recommended to me by a good friend, Caroline Jameson, as a client of Xavier Insurance – especially as she had been the recent victim of a home invasion.


She was a delightful young woman – but loved to dress in the seventies BoHo style.  When we met, she was wearing a scoop necked sweater and a long brown tie dyed skirt, brown granny boots – and a flower in her hair.  Well, a flower on a hair band that went round her head.


As she walked me round her house, we talked about what had happened to her – how she had been surprised at home, and tied with ropes to a chair before a rag was stuffed into her mouth, and then they ransacked the place.  Scary, but she was coping well with it – and I saw some ways to improve her own security.


But, of course, that insight comes from my career – and as I drove home and was typing up my report, some memoirs of my own youth in the seventies came to mind.


Such as Agnes.  Agnes was a computer operator, at a time when that meant a typist who sat in front of a big clunky white box with a screen in the middle.  I knew this from the picture in the main room of her flat I saw when I had broken in to relieve her of her jewels – and then, just before I had a chance to get away, she walked in.


Her hair was big – two cans of Silverkin Hairspray a day big – and she was wearing a cream coloured top with a leather belt round her waist, a purple leather waistcoat and mini skirt, dark tights, and knee length chocolate brown leather boots.


She was certainly surprised to see me – but I spoke calmly, clearly, and told her I only wanted her valuables, and she would be unharmed – although I would have to make sure she could not raise the alarm for a little while.  She nodded and said she believed me, only asking I leave the radio on before I left her unable to do anything.


So I allowed her to go to relieve herself, before I asked her to lie on her back on the bed, and then to put her hands together in prayer.  As she did so, I made a loop in the end of a ball of twine I had picked up, and when she had put her hands together I slipped the loop down over her hands, and pulled it tight so that her wrists were held together.


We talked as I took the twine around and between her wrists, making sure they were snugly tied together, and then took her hands above her head before wrapping the twine around and between the metal frets of her headboard.


When I was done, she could not move her hands away, or get off the bed – which, I had to admit when she asked, was kind of the point.  She had the good grace to laugh as her head rested on the pillows, and then she watched as I cut the twine with some scissors, walked to the foot of the bed and made a second loop, before I used the same method to secure her ankles together, then to the foot of the bed.


So there she was, wriggling round as I made sure she was covered up, before I had to make sure she stayed quiet.  In her wardrobe, I found a long black chiffon scarf, so I folded that up into a pad, and then waited as she opened her mouth before I pushed it in as far as it could safely go.  I left it at that – I didn’t want her to be at any more discomfort than necessary, but she was kept quiet as I kissed her forehead, and then left her to make my exit.




I know what you’re thinking – the seventies, so he’s going to of on about tight boots once more.  Actually, no – the seventies were about a lot more than hot pants and go go boots.


Although, I warn you now, one tale will involve hot pants.


First, though, let me take you to Tottenham, and a sunny afternoon in 1976, when I had let myself into the home of a family to see what I could find.  I knew the man of the house was out to work, and his wife was at a church committee meeting, so I felt safe in not being disturbed.


What do they say about pride and the fool?  I had entered from the kitchen, and had searched upstairs, but as I walked back down the door opened, and their daughter walked in.  I knew a little about her – she was a twenty year old student – but she certainly was not expecting to see me.  She had on a brown velvet coat, a suede handbag over one shoulder, and the jacket was over a green jacket and skirt.  The clothes had a brown and white fern pattern on it, and a tie belt round the waist.  Finally, she was wearing a pair of wedge soled cork sandals with white leather straps.


She also was about to turn round and run out of the house, so I am afraid I had to go quickly behind her and put my gloved hand over her mouth, whispering in her ear as she struggled to calm down, to remain quiet, and I was not going to hurt her if she did what I said. 


Eventually, she calmed down enough for me to take my hand away, and she asked me what I was going to do.  I told her I had already found valuables, but right now I had to make sure she did not raise the alarm, so I asked her if she had any sort of tape in the house.


She took a moment to digest that, and then said all she had was packing tape – so I told her to take me to where the tape was, and we went into the front room as she retrieved it from a wooden wall unit.


There was an old fashioned armchair there, with wooden armrests and a cushioned seat, so I told her to sit down, and to put her hands palm down on the rests.  When she had done that, I tore the end of the brown tape free from the roll, and wrapped it tightly round her wrist and her arm just before her elbow, fixing her arms into place.


I then taped her ankles together, as the soles of her sandals sat on the floor, before I made sure the television was on – those when the days when there were three channels, but BBC Two in the afternoons weekdays was industrial films.  I clearly remember this one was about drilling for gas under the North Sea, but she could not complain.


After all, I had covered her mouth and jaw with several strips of the brown tape, before making my getaway….





Falmouth – then a much quieter town than it is now, but renowned for the seafood and the atmosphere.


And on this spring day, I was walking along the harbour line, just passing the day.  I had something I needed to do later, but just then I was enjoying the atmosphere and the sights.


And yes – although it pains me to say this given the years since, one of those sights were the young ladies.  I was particularly taken with one young woman sitting outside a pub – long black hair, a cheesecloth sleeveless blouse with the ends tied under her chest, denim hot pants, and heeled sandals.


I would have sat there for hours and admired her beauty – but, as I said, I had a job to do, so I made my way to the outskirts of the town, and a detached house in its own grounds.


Getting entry was easy enough – well, climbing up the vine that was up the walls and into the open bedroom window was easy enough.  Nowadays, no way I would have tried that, but i was younger, fitter, more stupid…


Anyway, I was lucky enough to find myself in a bedroom, and the jewellery boxes were out, so I was emptying them into a sack as my fee.  They were not what I was there for, but I knew it would be in another room.


Before I got a chance to walk out of the room, though, the door opened – and the girl from the pub walked in.  She took one look at me, and then asked if I was robbing her parents.  I replied in the affirmative – I never lie unless it is unavoidable – and she actually smiled and said it would, and I quote form memory, “serve that stupid bitch of her mother right.”


She then asked if I was going to tie her up, and when I said i had to she walked to a wardrobe and took out some long chiffon rectangles, of various colours, before she lay face down on the bed and put her hands together behind her back.


I started with a yellow scarf, which I tied round her arms and pulled her elbows together before I secured the ends.  A red scarf was then sued to tie her wrists together, in both cases taking the material between her arms as well.


She looked back as i used a green and blue scarf to secure her ankles together, and then her legs below her knees, before I asked her if she happened to know the combination to the safe in her parent’s bedroom.  She gave me a sequence of numbers – and then I sued a black rectangle to cleave gag her, leaving her to roll onto her side as she watched me leave the room.


She did give me the right combination, so I returned to thank her as she nodded, the scarf getting damp at the corners of her mouth – and then I left her there to be found.



The other thing that younger girls – and some older women who probably should have known better – liked to wear, and that was the “boob tube”.  You remember them – strapless, like a band of cloth over their chests.


And that was what this particular brunette was wearing when I disturbed her in her bedroom one day.  This garment was made of an elasticated material, blue checked, and she was also wearing the most amazing pair of bell bottom pants – white, with all manner of bows printed on them – except for the three stitched on the front at the waistband.  She was also wearing a pair of white shoes with a wedge sole and heel.


By this time, I was bringing with me things I might need in case I came across anyone in my visits, so I told her to remain calm, and she would be fine – and then I told her I was going to make sure she could not raise the alarm, as I took out of my pocket a roll of silver duct tape and held it up.


She asked me what I was going to do with that, and as I ripped the end of the roll clear I told her I was going to tape her up – so I told her to put her hands behind her back, but kept talking as I wrapped the tape tightly round them to hold them together, asking her where her valuables were, and where she would be most comfortable.


I then wrapped the tape round her waist, to keep her wrists against her back, and then passed it round in a second band, holding her lower arms against her back and round her stomach below the top.  The third bad went round her arms above her top, so that although the silver tape never went over that top, the bands held her arms firmly in place.


She then lay on her back on the bed, bending her legs as I taped them together above and below her knees, and then her ankles, the bell bottoms flaring out from under the silver band.


Finally, I covered her mouth with the tape, and she watched as I took her jewellery, and then left her there…




One more tale – and this was one where, for reasons that will become clear, I made sure the lady of the house really was secure.


This was one of the occasions I walked up to the front door and knocked – the door being opened by a woman with long strawberry blonde hair, wearing a maxi dress in purple and orange.  The material had spots of a contrasting shade of the same colour on it – the skirt purple, then the orange hem that matched the body and sleeves.  The body was like a vets with purple neck and side panels, and a tie effect on the neckline.  Finally, she was wearing a pair of Scholl sandals with silver and purple straps.


She asked who I was, and I said I had been asked to deliver a letter to the house, but she had to sign for it.  A simple ruse, but as she took the clipboard I handed her the surprise when I pushed her back in and closed the door made her scream.  I told her to calm down, I wasn’t going to hurt her, I just wanted the coin collection I knew her husband kept in a strongbox.


That was when she told me – well, put it this way, he would not be happy she had let this happen.  That was when I said I would leave her in such a way it would be abundantly clear she had no choice but to let me do this.  When she nodded and said she would do what I said, the first thing I told her to do was to pull the telephone wire from the wall.


As she did this, I rook the knapsack I had over my shoulder and took out a length of white rope, then guided her wrists behind her back and crossed them before I secured them firmly together.


I then took a longer length of rope, and tied it round her upper body, forcing her arms against her sides as it framed her chest.  I normally only did this if I had to, but something told me it would be better for her if she was truly secured.


When I was done, she twisted round, and then walked with me into the front room of the house, taking a seat on a long leather couch as I pulled the curtains closed over the window.  I then helped her to lie down, and she watched as I used one length of rope to secure her legs together above her knees, gathering the skirt around her legs as I did so – then a second band below her knees.  Finally, I secured her ankles together, before I covered her mouth with a long strip of brown fabric plaster to keep her nice and quiet.


She wriggled round as I left her there, and found the strongbox, forced it, took the coins – as well as some of her jewellery – and then made sure she was all right before I left.




One note to end – some years later, I met her again at an antiques fair, and she quietly thanked me – for giving her the courage to leave him after he said it was all her fault...







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