Generations Seventies Style
I remember that day as clearly as if it had happened now, rather than 47 years ago. I had been to a drama club after school, and made my way home on the bus – I lived with my mother, my dad had died a year or so before. The plan for that evening had been straightforward enough – I get home, do my homework, and then Gran was coming round to join us for dinner before we watched some television together.
It must have been about five o’clock when I got off the bus – I was sixteen at the time, just started sixth form, and the college I went to did not have a uniform policy. So I was wearing a tartan pinafore dress with a short skirt – not too short, but short – and a white blouse under it with long sleeves. There was a bit of a chill in the air, so I was wearing some long black socks under my leather boots. They weren’t quite the go-go style, but I liked them.
At that time, I had long light brown hair, which I felt the wind blowing as I walked down the street, then up the path to my front door. Fishing the front door key out of my suede bag, I unlocked the front door and went in – and then after I closed the door I realised I could still feel a breeze on my hair.
Well, I put my book down and walked into the kitchen – and found that the back door was open. I stared at it for a moment, and then decided the right thing to do would be to get out of the house and call the police.
That would have been a good idea – except that was when I was grabbed from behind, and a large hand was clamped over my mouth as this rough make voice said “well lookee here – the kid’s home already.”
“WLhhtmhgghhhh” I called out as I wriggled in his grasp, but he was too strong, and then I saw a second man – tall, lean, dressed in a denim jacket, jeans and a t-shirt as he walked round and looked at me. “Stop struggling kid,” he said as he looked directly into my eyes, “or my friend here will knock you out. Do you want that to happen?”
I looked at him, and then shook my head from side to side as he smiled – not a nice smile either. “That’s better – take her into the front room,” he said as I was lifted up and carried out of the kitchen, kicking my legs as the guy who was holding me held on.
“Stop kicking kid,” he growled into my ear, and there was a real menace in that, so I stopped as he carried me into our front room. The curtains had been drawn, making it look really dim, as the second man went through to the dining room, and came back with one of the chairs from the dining table.
“Sit her down in this,” he said as he put it in the centre of the floor, “and I’ll get the ropes.” The way he said it was terrifying, as I shook my head and said “phllsddhntnthllbhghhddd…”
“Sorry, kid, we need to be sure,” the man behind me said with a laugh as he lifted me onto the seat, and let go of my mouth – only to grab my arms and pull them around the chair back. He held my wrists there, as I decided shouting for help was probably not the best idea – and then I felt something rough rubbing on my wrists as they were tied together.
I bit my lower lip to stop myself crying, as they then tied my wrists to the chair back, and I saw the brown rope as it was tied round my waist to keep me in the chair. The rope went round my arms and upper body next, before I felt it been given one more tug and tied off – leaving me stuck in the chair and unable to get out.
I then saw the man who had been holding me as he walked round, knelt in front of me, and started to tie my ankles together with more rope. He was fatter than the first man I had seen, but dressed in the same way, and he had an unshaven chin with short dark hair. He also seemed to be enjoying what he was doing, as he pulled the rope tight between my legs, and then tied it off before he pulled my ankles to one side and tied them to the front leg of the chair.
I wriggled round, trying to see if I could move anything, as the second man stood and looked at me, a funny look in his eyes – but before anything else happened, I heard a car pull up outside, and the thin man looked out of the window.
“Mummy’s here – keep the kid quiet.”
Before I had a chance to say anything, the fat man pushed a wadded white handkerchief into my mouth, meaning I wasn’t able to say anything – and then he stood behind me, both hands on my shoulders as I heard the front door open and close, and Mum say “I’m home – are you upstairs?”
There was no way I could tell her what was going on as Mum walked into the front room, her eyes wide in shock when she saw me. She worked in a boutique, and had to dress fashionably – which is why she was wearing a one piece hot pants play suit, made from brown material with a fern pattern on it, and knee length white boots. Her hair was piled up, and she still had on the brown horn rimmed glasses she wore when she was driving.
She stared at me for what seemed an eternity, as I felt the cloth in my mouth soaking up all the saliva, and then she opened her mouth to scream – only, instead of that, the thin man walked behind her and pulled a rolled up headscarf into her mouth, cutting any sound off as he tied it round her head. I heard him say “the kid’s going to be all right, and so are you – IF you do exactly what we tell you” as he did that, pulling the corners of Mum’s mouth back as he tied the ends together at the base of her neck.
She looked at me and said “Huuuruhhuhllrhttt?” I was scared, but I nodded anyway as I saw the thin man pull Mum’s hands behind her back, and saw her look over her shoulder. I knew what he was doing – tying her wrists together behind her back, as she tried to wriggle round. He then passed more rope round her body as I watched, pulling it tight under her chest as it forced her arms into her sides, and then making two bands that framed her chest as he went round and round. Mum was just looking at me now, wondering what I was thinking I guess as I watched him stop her moving her upper body.
Well, stop her moving is not quite right – she could still twist round, but that was all, the ropes holding her arms tightly to her sides as she looked at me. “Watch the kid,” the man said as he took Mum by the arms and walked her out of the room, the other man nodding as he sat down and looked at me.
“Don’t worry kid,” the thin man said as he looked at me, “your mummy isn’t going to do anything that means you get hurt. But I do need to do something – make sure you really can’t talk.”
He took from a pocket a roll of brown sticking plaster, and tore a long strip off, then walked towards me with a smile before he rpesswe3d that firmly down over my mouth, which meant I really could not push that cloth out of my mouth now. The material tugged at the skin round my mouth, but I really was not in a position to say or do anything now, as I heard the footsteps above me.
And then heard the front door open and close again, as I looked to the door and saw my grandmother walk in! She was wearing a short sleeve purple dress that came down over her knees, a square silver patch at the neck, and a white hat – and rather incongruously for a woman I thought was really old, long white go-go boots.
She stared at me, and then at the man standing next to her, as he very quietly said “no noise lady – you can see your granddaughter is tied and gagged, and your daughter is upstairs with my friend.” I stared at him then – how did he know this was my grandmother?
She nodded as she said to him “so what are you intentions towards me?” As he looked at me, he said “I know you’re scared kid, but have we hurt you?” I shook my head from side to side, as my grandmother said “I know you’re scared – but don’t worry, we’ll get through this together, all right?”
I nodded as I saw him go into a bag, and take some more rope out, and then take my grandmother’s hands behind her back and bind her wrists together. I was still trying to find some way of untying my own wrists, but the few times I managed to find the knot, it was too tight to do anything about it.
Grandmother nodded as he tied her wrists together, and then raised an eyebrow as he started to wrap a longer length of rope around her arms and upper body. “Is this absolutely necessary,” she said as he pulled the rope tighter, “I’m not going to get in your way…”
“Sorry, lady, we need to be sure,” he said as he pulled the rope around her body again and again, forcing her arms against her sides before he tied it off, and then told her to take a seat in an armchair. As she sat down, I heard her sigh a little, and we both watched as he lifted her feet onto a coffee table, crossed her ankles and then used more rope to bind them tightly together. She looked over at me, and I was surprised to see her smile as she said “I wonder if they will let us listen to eh radio? I want to hear Pete Murray…”
“I think we can do that,” the man said as he took another length of rope, and tied her legs together below her knees, before he took out of his pocket the roll of sticking plaster as he stood up. “But for now, you need to be quiet, so lips together please.”
“We’ll talk later,” Grandmother said before he pressed the brown fabric over her mouth as well. I wondered why he hadn’t put anything in her mouth, like he had done with me, but she just nodded and looked at me, so that I could almost see her smile as she wriggled round.
“Hmhghdhdh – mhfffrr!”
“Hllhdhrrr – shmmmswhrhlsthck.”
I watched as the fat man brought Mum back in, and made her lie on her side on the long couch, before he took more rope and tied her ankles together side by side. “So the grandmother came as well – they can enjoy some nice quiet holiday time,2 he laughed as he pulled the rope tightly round her ankles, so that the leather squeaked as she tried to move her legs. Another length of rope went round her legs below her knees, as I looked at her. Her glasses were gone now, and I could see the dark grey patches at the corner of her mouth.
My mouth was feeling dry now – the cloth had soaked up all the saliva in there – but I tried to remain calm, breathing in and out through my nose as the fat man made Mum lie on her stomach, and pulled her ankles back before tying them to the rope round her chest. He then walked over and checked the ropes tied round me, and those that meant Grandmother could not move, before he laughed.
“Let’s leave them to it then,” he said to the other man, who nodded before he turned the radio on.
“A promise,” he said as the music started to play, and they left us. We all looked at each other for a few minutes, wondering who was going to move first, before Mum started to twist round and struggle on the couch, beads of perspiration on her forehead as she tried to free herself.
“Jshhttrrhlhxxx,” Grandmother said as she looked at me, “uhdhnntwhntthrrtuhrshlfff. Hlppwhlchmshnnn…” I twisted in the chair, the ropes rubbing on me, and I started to feel a little funny – and then saw Mum and Grandmother looked at me.
“Huhhlrrhhhtt,” Grandmother said, and I nodded before she looked at Mum.
“Shssghtthnnhldhhr – dhhufhnnkkk…”
“Hmtrhhngthhgnhrrhtt – uh?”
Mum started to twist round some more, and then she started to shiver a little – and I did as well, but it wasn’t fear, it was something else. I looked at Grandmother, who nodded as she said “hknhhhdhrrr – trhhhnhtthmhfhnlhhssuhhntthh…”