01 Feb OCCUPATION – Bank Robber (retd)
Have you ever wondered what Bank Robbers do when they get old? I used to drink with an old scouser called Dave who purported to be a ‘scally’ bank robber in his younger days in the 1950’s.
Liverpool in those days after the war was heavily bombed and the people were very poor. Anyone who robbed a big bank was regarded as a hero and very often they shared some of their ill-gotten gains with the local community. Like a modern day Robin Hood character helping the old and needy.
Dave could keep the whole pub enthralled with his tales of crimes he had committed back in the 1950’s but the funniest were the ones that went wrong!!
The gang decided that they were going to rob a wages van there were no ‘armoured trucks’ in those days, just an ordinary van. Now the best time to do this was early in the morning while it was still full of money. They laid their plan and followed a wage van on its delivery round. The first stop was a large secondary school at eight in the morning.
So the following week they were all secreted in the shrubbery just inside the school gates, wearing ski masks, when the van drove in. Two of them closed the gates behind the van while the other two got the driver and his mate out and made them lie prone on the ground.
Figuring that two against four weren’t very good odds the crew let them get on with it. Dave was in the van passing boxes of wage packets out to his mate when suddenly he was stunned by a blow to the side of his head.
“Eh Eh calm down, calm down” he said turning round to see a cleaning lady with her hair wrapped in a scarf tied at the front, brandishing her broom threateningly.
“That’s my wages you’re robbing” she said
“OK calm down, calm down luv – what’s your name?”
“Jones” she said.
Dave found the box for the school wages and thumbed through the wage packets.
“Here you go” he said handing her the packet.
“Ta very much – you’re a good lad Dave”
She left him wondering how she recognised him in his mask and carried on sweeping the yard!
Things didn’t always go according to plan and every now and then they would end up empty handed. When they decided to rob a sub post office in a suburb of Liverpool it all went wrong.
Disguised in balaclava ski masks and carrying a sawn off double barrel shotgun loaded with salt (it makes the noise but without the lethal result of a standard shotgun shell, often used by gamekeepers to frighten poachers but not harm them permanently) they burst into the post office.
“Everybody lie down!!” shouted the man with the gun and to show people that he meant business he shot the gun into the ceiling!
Sub post offices in those days were very often set up in the front room of a terraced house. Such was this one and the ceiling which was probably a hundred years old or more was never intended to take a blast from a shotgun even if it was only loaded with salt.
Down came the whole ceiling! You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. In a state of panic the gang fled and dived into the back of the getaway van which was parked outside, doors wide open the driver ready with the engine running. They roared off in a cloud of dust and small stones. Pulling off their ski masks they looked like three pandas blinking in the sunlight. All of them started to laugh, mainly through relief that they had had a lucky escape!
Not surprisingly Dave’s career as a bank robber was short lived and eventually he went for a long holiday at H.M. pleasure.
On release and seeing the error of his ways, he used the proceeds of his previous career to set up a very profitable marine salvage business, claiming the cargo from ships that sank in Liverpool bay.
As he said “I’m still robbing for a living but now it’s legal!”
700 words Michael White 2020