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Danny Benjamin - Early Seventies

Waistband - Marc Bolan suit
 A Local Villain's Advice

It was just after ten on a cold damp winter's night ... a young policeman was enjoying a crafty smoke, hidden from view in a recess next to our 'broom cupboard' in Uxbridge market. He saw a young lad enter the deserted market. He came in one entrance and almost right up to 'our' policeman, but didn't see him. After looking around he quickly ran to the other entrance, making sure all was clear.

He returned with a half brick in his hand and threw it at the window, but not hard enough, for it bounced back! Why, oh why, our intrepid policeman didn't arrest him there and then I don't understand. Possibly, carrying a brick wasn't enough to make an arrest? So it continued and, sure enough, the next attempt made short shift of our window! After grabbing a handful of shirts, the miscreant backed out, only to be immediately grabbed by our now alert policeman.

On another occasion Colin and I, who were so keen that we would never ruin our takings by window dressing during the day, were working late. We printed our tickets in the upstairs office and wouldn't even start to empty the windows until six. Then, we would work right through the night, usually having breakfast with our friends in the bakery next door at four in the morning! On this particular night our friendly local policeman, William, came in for a chat and we broke off work for a cup of tea. It was about 2 a.m. Suddenly a police car shrieked to a halt outside whereupon our 'mate' William disappearing into a fitting room! Within minutes, both Colin and I had been arrested - they thought we were thieves!!

It wasn't so easy to prove that we actually owned the shop. I showed them the shop keys but I had no items to identify me. Fortunately Colin had his wallet and so finally, with very bad grace, they accepted the fact and left us to continue with our work.

Marc Bolan powder blue suit (Bonhams)

But what of our missing friend, William, I hear you ask? It was obvious that he was more frightened of the 'car cops' than we were! He was really shaken up. Possibly, being discovered not walking the streets on a cold wet night would have ruined his prospects of promotion? He never said, and I could never reason it out! We went through a bad stage of petty burglaries, and then the burglars discovered that if they kicked our doors it set off our alarm. So, if they wanted to burgle any premises in the area, all they had to do was set off our alarm and, whilst the police descended on our premises and awaited our arrival, carry on with their skulduggery, knowing that the local constabulary were otherwise occupied.

As a result of this, I was eventually 'invited' to the police station and told off for all the trouble we were inadvertently causing. Fine - but we were offered little in the way of constructive advice. Then I had an inkling of an idea! From the many tales I had heard, I 'knew' that several of my customers were burglars so, the very next time he came into the shop I asked 'Alex' (a local villain) for his advice and offered to pay him well. As he walked around the premises I have to admit that I was a little worried that I was doing something completely stupid! He was, no doubt, a complete professional!

Following his conclusions we were to brick up two small windows and screw down the frames on two more. Around our back perimeter wall we were to set large slivers of jagged glass, in cement, around the complete top of the wall. I found an enormous pane of glass, shattered it into some very ugly-looking pieces, and did as I was bid. It was terrifying! Some of the lethal pieces jutted out about 18" or more. Frightening, and very much against the law! As Alex explained, small pieces could be covered by a thick coat, but only a complete idiot would attempt to tackle ours! He was right - we never had another break-in! Also, as an added bonus, there was little doubt that Alex knew 'our' villains, for nobody ever set off our alarm again either!

Danny Benjamin 2007