The Bank Job
Believe it or not I was indirectly responsible for one of the biggest bank robberies in England.
The story started in 1970 when I was about 25 years old. I was working for a record shop on St Johns Wood Roundabout aptly called "Roundabout Records". The owner was an incredible man. He was blind but knew music like no one else I've ever met. He was also a ham radio operator. Working with us was another young man, whose name escapes me now. He left to open a ladies handbag shop in Baker Street opposite the station entrance. He called the shop "The Sac shop" He knew that I wanted to open a record shop of my own and asked me if I was interested in taking a lease of the basement. I was indeed and we had several meetings.
The basement was quite large and would have been ideal. We agreed a rent and I remember at one stage he even discussed a joint venture but I knew nothing of ladies handbags and I wanted to stick to records.
Then came the problem, the shop front had two windows with the door in the centre. I needed a shop window and wanted the smaller one on the right however he was not willing to let me have that and so after several months of negotiations I said goodbye and opened a record shop in Goldhawk Road.
He had needed the rental to help his income and was soon in trouble. The shop closed after the Christmas of 1970 around Easter time and was left empty.
A little later I was staggered to learn that Lloyds Bank on the corner of Baker Street and Marylebone High Road had been robbed. The robbery took place on a weekend in September 1971.
The thieves took a lease on the shop and tunnelled through to the safety deposit boxes of the bank. They took about £4 million pounds and were never caught. I won't spoil the story so do watch the DVD.
My parents knew the owner of a small card club which was really an illegal casino that operated in Dorchester Square nearby. The owner told my father that she had lost about £100,000 in cash but could not declare the loss as the Inland Revenue did not know she had it!! Apparently over 100 other box owners never declared their losses so the figure of £4 million is conservative. That is about £75,000,000 at todays value!
The funny thing is that I was on a flight to the West Indies in 2009 when the film was a choice on the Air France flight. I'd never heard of it so settled back to watch. As the opening scenes unfolded I sat up in my seat with amazement as I realised this was the very shop I'd nearly rented. Had I done so would the thieves have done what they did?