Tuesday, 25 September 2012

How we robbed the Bank of England

I don’t supposed you believed us when we said that we intended to rob the Bank of England, did you?

Well we did. This is how we did it.

But first, a little background. We had visited the Bank on the Open Day last year and realised, from the gold bar on display in the museum, that they are very heavy. Elena went to work in preparation for today’s planned heist. She created some specially adapted underpants out of leather ( unterlederhosen) for me to wear. These would play a crucial role on the day, but to see how we must return to the present.

Elena and I queued in the rain for an hour and a half on the Open Day, along with a couple of thousand other people.

Once in the imposing stone edifice, with its solid eighteen feet thick walls of windowless stone, and sparkling chandeliers and dark polished oak frames, we joined a small party of about thirty curious tourists. 
The interior is a marvellous and spacious example of British Upper Class, Enlightenment taste, designed to impress with great vaulted ceilings and delicate gold fig leaf decoration, miles of corridors and sumptuous silk tapestries from the 16th Century, elaborate and deep carpets that match the ceilings in pattern and decoration – and most impressive of all – a vault containing the second largest gold reserves in the world!
Of course, the entire stash would be a bit of a handful, so we had decided that one bar, shaped as they all are like a coffin (a brilliant observation by Elena – how many have died for this barbaric relic?) would suffice on this occasion. Besides, there is a limit to the number of gold bars that my specially constructed unterlederhosen could carry.

All that was necessary was to create a distraction that would allow me to break away from the crowd. Our chance came when we spotted the sign prohibiting photography. Elena pointed her camera at an impressive statue of Charles James Fox. 

Two pink clad, yes, pink, security men pushed through the crowd and fell upon her, causing everyone to part and then stare at her as she mumbled her apologies. I darted away and unseen into one of the – another amazing fact – three hundred lavatories in the Bank. 
I still do not know why there are so many lavatories. But we had been given this knowledge by the guide as soon as the tour began. We figured that the work at the bank must be of the kind that loosens the bowels – international markets must have always been volatile I suppose, as the bank was founded in 1694, and that volatility must have always taken its toll on the alimentary canal.

It was a long and sweaty wait for me, cooped up inside that small lavatory. My unterlederhosen were not calculated to be either cool or comfortable, so I slipped them off and waited until I knew that the building would be empty. An eerie feeling - half naked, in a strange lavatory for seventeen hours.
Elena had left with the crowd to complete the second and crucial part of our plan. Using an e-mail gleaned from a friend we had made who worked at the bank, she mailed security to say that a certain outside member of the Monetary Policy Committee would be working late this evening to finish off some work for the meeting the following morning. It was not a co-incidence that I bear a passing resemblance to this man, and I was wearing a typical business suit. Nobody would worry about me shuffling around and popping into the museum where a genuine gold bar, worth about half a million Pounds, was on display.
Along the gloomy, cavernous corridors I strode, looking perplexed by monetary matters, and I even nodded at a security guard as I passed him!
I was alone in the museum. The gold bar glistened in the soft security light. My replica stand and bar was in my briefcase and soon replaced the original, whose legs I sawed off with a small hacksaw. This was one attack they were not expecting.
I heard footsteps. I adopted an even more academic and distracted expression and wandered with a lost look towards them.
“ Are you lost Sir?”, she enquired without suspicion.
Outsourcing was my saviour. Different staff all the time, she could not distinguish me from Mr _________. the well known economist.
“Er, perhaps, no, I can’t be, otherwise you wouldn’t have found me, according to the efficiency theory of markets anyway, but I’m not sure about that….er”
She smiled and I passed her and headed back to my lavatory.
At 9.30 am I was striding towards the main entrance and exit of the Bank. The gold bar dangled in its leather pouch from my reinforced leather underpants. A secretary gasped as I passed. Too much attention I thought – that’s never happened before.
As crowds of suited workers surged in, and others waited to shoot out, I caught a cluster of these and was out without having to use a security fob to open the glass gates.
Another girl gasped as I turned into the street. It was Elena.
“ Let’s go home - now”, she said tersely, and I thought how untrue it is that money can’t buy you love!

 We got away with it.

But you won’t read about it in the media and we won’t be arrested – it’s too embarrassing for them to admit that the Bank of England lost some of its gold to Mark and Elena.
They’ll just say that we made it up.

Written and mailed from our new luxury villa on the Isle of Capri.

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