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News agent in Surrey Street in Croydon.

Normally has a busy market here, but this was taken on a much more quiet Sunday.

www.facebook.com/vorkaimagery

 

The Box Hill brickworks had their origins in the boom years of the 1880s. In 1884 a prospectus was issued for the Haughton Park Brick Company Ltd., Box Hill, proposing to produce machine and hand made bricks, tiles, earthenware and porcelain on 30 acres at the corner of Elgar and Canterbury Roads. One of the directors was Peter Behrendt, a civil engineer and architect, an agent for continental clay products and said to be adept in the manufacture of Dresden and other high class terracotta and porcelain works. In 1886 the company changed its name to the Box Hill Brick Co Ltd. The year 1889 was a peak year for brickmaking in Melbourne and in 1890 the company declared its first dividend. These works were among a number of like industries in the region. With the industry in decline in the 1890s the company did not pay a dividend in 1891 and in 1892 it suspended production. Following a change of ownership and a lease by the rival Co-operative Brick Company the site was sold in 1905 and the quarry became the "surrey dive" swimming hole. In about 1911 brick production again started on this site near the dive and in 1913 this became the Standard Brick and Tile Co. Ltd. In 1913 the company was attending its plant, building an 18 chamber Hoffman patent kiln and planning to install four brick presses and employ 40 men. Over the years the Box Hill brickworks has experienced changing fortunes and even closures. One reason for this has been the comparative isolation of the works. In 1938 the works were taken over by the Co-operative Brick Company. They were closed in the war years of 1942-46 and in 1952 the plant was converted to electricity. The Brick and Pipe Company took over the company in 1966 and in August 1988 the box hill works were closed.

 

The Former Standard Brick Works at Box Hill are of historic and architectural importance for the following reasons:

 

* the former standard brickworks site in Federation street, Box Hill comprises a rare and unusually intact brickmaking plant of the early twentieth century. The site retains material evidence of all the stages of the brick production process from clay extraction to dispatch.

 

* the distinctive form and internal fittings of the clay mill building provide evidence of superseded brickmaking processes and ancillary trades, in particular the tramway system for hauling clay and the blacksmith's shop. The grinding pans and brick press machinery on site exhibit the same fundamental technology which was introduced with the industrialization of brickmaking in Victoria in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

 

* for containing on site one of the last operative Hoffman patent brickmaking kilns in Victoria.

 

* the significance of the site is enhanced by its location adjacent to the former "Surrey Dive" with which it has some historical associations. Box Hill is also the last historic remnant of a series of brick and tile producing works which were established between Hawthorn and Mitcham from the 1880s to the 1939-45 war.

This single track road leads to the north shore of Loch Etive. A dead end road that passes through some stunning landscapes. From the river rapid waters of River Etive, to the Munros Buachaille Etive Mor and Ben Starav, this road has it all. Hardly surprising that this is the setting for Skyfall, the fictional childhood home of M16 Agent 007, James Bond.

 

I mention that the location is the fictional setting of the house as several times while in Glen Etive, I have been approached by American tourists(and they are always American) asking for directions for the Skyfall House and that they come a long way to see it. A simple click to imdb would have informed them that while several scenes were shot in Glen Etive, the house itself was a full-scale set built of plywood and plaster built on Hankley Common, Elstead, Surrey, England. Oh dear oh dear. Try telling that to an American tourist, I have and the result is always the same, disappointment, bewilderment and then fighting with each other at which point I walk away trying not to laugh.

A couple of shots with the 50mm for a change: looking from the lifts towards platform 1.

 

Aldwych tube station is a closed station on the London Underground, located in the City of Westminster in central London. It was opened in 1907 with the name Strand, after the street on which it is located, and was the terminus and only station on the short Piccadilly line branch from Holborn that was a relic of the merger of two railway schemes. The station building is close to the junction of Strand and Surrey Street, near Aldwych. During its lifetime, the branch was the subject of a number of unrealised extension proposals that would have seen the tunnels through the station extended southwards, usually to Waterloo.

Served by a shuttle train for most of their life and suffering from low passenger numbers, the station and branch were considered for closure several times. A weekday peak hours-only service survived until closure in 1994, when the cost of replacing the lifts was considered too high compared to the income generated.

Disused parts of the station and the running tunnels were used during both World Wars to shelter artworks from London's public galleries and museums from bombing.

The station has long been popular as a filming location and has appeared as itself and as other London Underground stations in a number of films. In recognition of its historical significance, the station is a Grade II listed building.

 

The Great Northern and Strand Railway (GN&SR) first proposed a station in the Strand area in a private bill presented to Parliament in November 1898.[2] The station was to be the southern terminus of an underground railway line planned to run from Wood Green station (now Alexandra Palace) via Finsbury Park and King's Cross and was originally to be located at the corner of Stanhope Street and Holles Street, north of the Strand. When the two streets were scheduled for demolition as part of the London County Council's plans for the construction of Kingsway and Aldwych, the GN&SR moved the location to the junction of the two new roads.[3] Royal Assent to the bill was given and the Great Northern and Strand Railway Act 1899 was enacted on 1 August.[4]

In September 1901, the GN&SR was taken over by the Brompton and Piccadilly Circus Railway (B&PCR), which planned to build an underground line from South Kensington to Piccadilly Circus via Knightsbridge. Both were under the control of Charles Yerkes through his Metropolitan District Electric Traction Company and, in June 1902, were transferred to Yerkes' new holding company, the Underground Electric Railways Company of London (UERL).[5] Neither of the railways had carried out any construction, but the UERL obtained permission for new tunnels between Piccadilly Circus and Holborn to connect the two routes. The companies were formally merged as the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway (GNP&BR) following parliamentary approval in November 1902.[6][7][8] Prior to confirmation of the merger, the GN&SR had sought permission to extend its line southwards from the future junction of Kingsway and Aldwych, under Norfolk Street to a new interchange under the Metropolitan District Railway's station at Temple. The extension was rejected following objections from the Duke of Norfolk under whose land the last part of the proposed tunnels would have run.[9]

In 1903, the GNP&BR sought permission for a branch from Piccadilly Circus to run under Leicester Square, Strand, and Fleet Street and into the City of London. The branch would have passed and interchanged with the already approved Strand station,[10] allowing travel on the GNP&BR from Strand in three directions. The deliberations of a Royal Commission on traffic in London prevented parliamentary consideration of the proposal, which was withdrawn.[11]

In 1905, with the Royal Commission's report about to be published, the GNP&BR returned to Parliament with two bills for consideration. The first bill revived the 1903 proposal for a branch from Piccadilly Circus to the City of London, passing and interchanging with Strand station. The second proposed an extension and relocation of Strand station to the junction of Strand and Surrey Street. From there the line was to continue as a single tunnel under the River Thames to Waterloo. The first bill was again delayed and withdrawn. Of the second, only the relocation of Strand station was permitted.

 

The linking of the GN&SR and B&PCR routes meant that the section of the GN&SR south of Holborn became a branch from the main route. The UERL began constructing the main route in July 1902. Progress was rapid, so that it was largely complete by the Autumn of 1906.[13] Construction of the Holborn to Strand section was delayed while the London County Council constructed Kingsway and the tramway subway running beneath it and while the UERL decided how the junction between the main route and the branch would be arranged at Holborn.[14][note 1]

Strand station was built on the site of the Royal Strand Theatre, which had closed on 13 May 1905 and been demolished. Construction of the station began on 21 October 1905,[16] to a design by the UERL's architect Leslie Green in the UERL house style of a two-storey steel-framed building faced with red glazed terracotta blocks, with wide semi-circular windows on the upper floor.[17] The station building is L-shaped, with two façades separated by the building on the corner of Strand and Surrey Street. The Strand façade is narrow with a single semi-circular window above the entrance. The façade in Surrey Street is wider with a separate entrance and exit and a shop unit. In anticipation of a revival of the extension to Waterloo and the City route, the station was built with three circular lift shafts able to accommodate six trapezium-shaped lifts. Only one of the shafts was fitted out, with two lifts.[18] The other two shafts rose from the lower concourse to the basement of the station, but could have been extended upwards into the space of the shop unit when required. A fourth smaller-diameter shaft accommodated an emergency spiral stair.[19]

The platforms are 92 feet 6 inches (28.19 m) below street level and are 250 feet (76 m) long;[16] shorter than the GNP&BR's standard length of 350 feet (110 m).[20] As with other UERL stations, the platform walls were tiled with distinctive patterns, in this case cream and dark green. Only parts of the platform walls were decorated because it was planned to operate the branch with short trains.[16] Due to the reduced lift provision, a second route between the platforms and lifts was never brought into use and was left in an unfinished condition without tiling.

 

The GNP&BR's main route opened on 15 December 1906, but the Strand branch was not opened until 30 November 1907.[22] Initially, shuttle trains operated to Holborn from the eastern platform into the through platform at Holborn. At peak times, an additional train operated alternately in the branch's western tunnel into the bay platform at Holborn. During the first year of operation, a train for theatregoers operated late on Monday to Saturday evenings from Strand through Holborn and northbound to Finsbury Park; this was discontinued in October 1908.[16]

In March 1908, the off-peak shuttle service began to use the western platform at Strand and the through platform at Holborn, crossing between the two branch tunnels south of Holborn. Low usage led to the withdrawal of the second peak-hour shuttle and the eastern tunnel was taken out of use in 1914.[23][24] On 9 May 1915, three of the Underground stations in the area were renamed and Strand station became Aldwych.[22][note 2] Sunday services ended in April 1917 and, in August of the same year, the eastern tunnel and platform at Aldwych and the bay platform at Holborn were formally closed.[25] A German bombing campaign in September 1917 led the disused platform being used as storage for 300 pictures from the National Gallery until December 1918.

 

In October 1922, the ticket office was replaced by a facility in the lifts.[25] Passenger numbers remained low: when the station was one of a number on the network considered for closure in 1929, its annual usage was 1,069,650 and takings were £4,500.[27][note 3] The branch was again considered for closure in 1933, but remained open.[25]

Wartime efficiency measures led to the branch being closed temporarily on 22 September 1940, shortly after the start of The Blitz, and it was partly fitted out by the City of Westminster as an air-raid shelter. The tunnels between Aldwych and Holborn were used to store items from the British Museum, including the Elgin Marbles. The branch reopened on 1 July 1946, but patronage did not increase.[28] In 1958, the station was one of three that London Transport announced would be closed. Again it survived, but the service was reduced in June 1958 to run only during Monday to Friday peak hours and Saturday morning and early afternoons.[29][note 4] The Saturday service was withdrawn in June 1962.[29]

  

Shelterers inside Aldwych station during the Blitz, 1940.

 

After operating only during peak hours for more than 30 years, the closure announcement came on 4 January 1993. The original 1907 lifts required replacement at a cost of £3 million. This was not justifiable as only 450 passengers used the station each day and it was losing London Regional Transport £150,000 per year. The Secretary of State for Transport granted permission on 1 September 1994 to close the station and the branch closed on 30 September.

 

Although the Piccadilly Circus to City of London branch proposal of 1905 was never revisited after its withdrawal, the early plan to extend the branch south to Waterloo was revived a number of times during the station's life. The extension was considered in 1919 and 1948, but no progress towards constructing the link was made.[28]

In the years after the Second World War, a series of preliminary plans for relieving congestion on the London Underground had considered various east-west routes through the Aldwych area, although other priorities meant that these were never proceeded with. In March 1965, a British Rail and London Transport joint planning committee published "A Railway Plan for London" which proposed a new tube railway, the Fleet line (later renamed the Jubilee line), to join the Bakerloo line at Baker Street then run via Bond Street, Green Park, Charing Cross, Aldwych and into the City of London via Ludgate Circus, Cannon Street and Fenchurch Street before heading into south-east London. An interchange was proposed at Aldwych and a second recommendation of the report was the revival of the link from Aldwych to Waterloo.[31][32] London Transport had already sought parliamentary approval to construct tunnels from Aldwych to Waterloo in November 1964,[33] and in August 1965, parliamentary powers were granted. Detailed planning took place, although public spending cuts led to postponement of the scheme in 1967 before tenders were invited.[29]

Planning of the Fleet line continued and parliamentary approval was given in July 1969 for the first phase of the line, from Baker Street to Charing Cross.[34] Tunnelling began on the £35 million route in February 1972 and the Jubilee line opened north from Charing Cross in May 1979.[35] The tunnels of the approved section continued east of Charing Cross under Strand almost as far as Aldwych station, but no work at Aldwych was undertaken and they were used only as sidings.[36] Funding for the second phase of the work was delayed throughout the 1970s whilst the route beyond Charing Cross was reviewed to consider options for serving anticipated development in the London Docklands area. By 1979, the cost was estimated as £325 million, a six-fold increase from the £51 million estimated in 1970.[37] A further review of alternatives for the Jubilee line was carried out in 1980, which led to the a change of priorities and the postponement of any further effort on the line.[38] When the extension was eventually constructed in the late 1990s it took a different route, south of the River Thames via Westminster, Waterloo and London Bridge to provide a rapid link to Canary Wharf, leaving the tunnels between Green Park and Aldwych redundant.[39]

In July 2005, Ove Arup & Partners produced a report, DLR Horizon 2020 Study, for the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) examining "pragmatic development schemes" to expand and improve the DLR network between 2012 and 2020. One of the proposals was an extension of the DLR from Bank to Charing Cross via City Thameslink and Aldwych. The disused Jubilee line tunnels would be enlarged to accommodate the larger DLR trains and Aldwych station would form the basis for a new station on the line, although requiring considerable reconstruction to accommodate escalators. The estimated cost in 2005 was £232 million for the infrastructure works and the scheme was described as "strongly beneficial" as it was expected to attract passengers from the London Underground's existing east-west routes and from local buses and reduce overcrowding at Bank station. The business case assessment was that the proposal offered high value, although similar values were calculated for other extension proposals from Bank. Further detailed studies were proposed.

 

Because it was a self-contained section of the London Underground which was closed at weekends and for extended periods during weekdays, Aldwych station and the branch line from Holborn were popular locations for filming scenes set on the Tube even before their closure. Since the branch's closure in 1994, its use in film productions has continued, with the station appearing as itself and, with appropriate signage, as other stations on the network.[29] The track and infrastructure are maintained in operational condition, and a train of ex-Northern line 1972 tube stock is permanently stabled on the branch. This train can be driven up and down the branch for filming. The physical connection with the Piccadilly line northbound tracks remains, but requires manual operation.[41]

Films and television productions that have been shot at Aldwych include:

The Gentle Gunman (1952)[29]

Battle of Britain (1969)[42]

Death Line (1972)[29]

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1986)[29]

The Krays (1990)[43]

Patriot Games (1994)[43]

Creep (2004)[42]

V for Vendetta (2006)[42]

The Good Shepherd (2006)[42]

Atonement (2007)[42]

28 Weeks Later (2007)[42]

The Edge of Love (2008)[42]

Mr Selfridge (2013) [44]

The pre-war operation of the station features in a pivotal scene in Geoffrey Household's novel Rogue Male, when the pursuit of the protagonist by an enemy agent sees them repeatedly using the shuttle service on the branch line. A chase through Aldwych station ends with the agent's death by electrocution on the track.[45] A much modified and expanded version of the station appears as a level in the video game Tomb Raider III.[46] The music video for The Prodigy's song "Firestarter" was filmed in the disused eastern tunnel and one of the unused lift shafts.

 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldwych_tube_station

The steps from platform 1 back up the the lifts and stairs.

 

Aldwych tube station is a closed station on the London Underground, located in the City of Westminster in central London. It was opened in 1907 with the name Strand, after the street on which it is located, and was the terminus and only station on the short Piccadilly line branch from Holborn that was a relic of the merger of two railway schemes. The station building is close to the junction of Strand and Surrey Street, near Aldwych. During its lifetime, the branch was the subject of a number of unrealised extension proposals that would have seen the tunnels through the station extended southwards, usually to Waterloo.

Served by a shuttle train for most of their life and suffering from low passenger numbers, the station and branch were considered for closure several times. A weekday peak hours-only service survived until closure in 1994, when the cost of replacing the lifts was considered too high compared to the income generated.

Disused parts of the station and the running tunnels were used during both World Wars to shelter artworks from London's public galleries and museums from bombing.

The station has long been popular as a filming location and has appeared as itself and as other London Underground stations in a number of films. In recognition of its historical significance, the station is a Grade II listed building.

 

The Great Northern and Strand Railway (GN&SR) first proposed a station in the Strand area in a private bill presented to Parliament in November 1898.[2] The station was to be the southern terminus of an underground railway line planned to run from Wood Green station (now Alexandra Palace) via Finsbury Park and King's Cross and was originally to be located at the corner of Stanhope Street and Holles Street, north of the Strand. When the two streets were scheduled for demolition as part of the London County Council's plans for the construction of Kingsway and Aldwych, the GN&SR moved the location to the junction of the two new roads.[3] Royal Assent to the bill was given and the Great Northern and Strand Railway Act 1899 was enacted on 1 August.[4]

In September 1901, the GN&SR was taken over by the Brompton and Piccadilly Circus Railway (B&PCR), which planned to build an underground line from South Kensington to Piccadilly Circus via Knightsbridge. Both were under the control of Charles Yerkes through his Metropolitan District Electric Traction Company and, in June 1902, were transferred to Yerkes' new holding company, the Underground Electric Railways Company of London (UERL).[5] Neither of the railways had carried out any construction, but the UERL obtained permission for new tunnels between Piccadilly Circus and Holborn to connect the two routes. The companies were formally merged as the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway (GNP&BR) following parliamentary approval in November 1902.[6][7][8] Prior to confirmation of the merger, the GN&SR had sought permission to extend its line southwards from the future junction of Kingsway and Aldwych, under Norfolk Street to a new interchange under the Metropolitan District Railway's station at Temple. The extension was rejected following objections from the Duke of Norfolk under whose land the last part of the proposed tunnels would have run.[9]

In 1903, the GNP&BR sought permission for a branch from Piccadilly Circus to run under Leicester Square, Strand, and Fleet Street and into the City of London. The branch would have passed and interchanged with the already approved Strand station,[10] allowing travel on the GNP&BR from Strand in three directions. The deliberations of a Royal Commission on traffic in London prevented parliamentary consideration of the proposal, which was withdrawn.[11]

In 1905, with the Royal Commission's report about to be published, the GNP&BR returned to Parliament with two bills for consideration. The first bill revived the 1903 proposal for a branch from Piccadilly Circus to the City of London, passing and interchanging with Strand station. The second proposed an extension and relocation of Strand station to the junction of Strand and Surrey Street. From there the line was to continue as a single tunnel under the River Thames to Waterloo. The first bill was again delayed and withdrawn. Of the second, only the relocation of Strand station was permitted.

 

The linking of the GN&SR and B&PCR routes meant that the section of the GN&SR south of Holborn became a branch from the main route. The UERL began constructing the main route in July 1902. Progress was rapid, so that it was largely complete by the Autumn of 1906.[13] Construction of the Holborn to Strand section was delayed while the London County Council constructed Kingsway and the tramway subway running beneath it and while the UERL decided how the junction between the main route and the branch would be arranged at Holborn.[14][note 1]

Strand station was built on the site of the Royal Strand Theatre, which had closed on 13 May 1905 and been demolished. Construction of the station began on 21 October 1905,[16] to a design by the UERL's architect Leslie Green in the UERL house style of a two-storey steel-framed building faced with red glazed terracotta blocks, with wide semi-circular windows on the upper floor.[17] The station building is L-shaped, with two façades separated by the building on the corner of Strand and Surrey Street. The Strand façade is narrow with a single semi-circular window above the entrance. The façade in Surrey Street is wider with a separate entrance and exit and a shop unit. In anticipation of a revival of the extension to Waterloo and the City route, the station was built with three circular lift shafts able to accommodate six trapezium-shaped lifts. Only one of the shafts was fitted out, with two lifts.[18] The other two shafts rose from the lower concourse to the basement of the station, but could have been extended upwards into the space of the shop unit when required. A fourth smaller-diameter shaft accommodated an emergency spiral stair.[19]

The platforms are 92 feet 6 inches (28.19 m) below street level and are 250 feet (76 m) long;[16] shorter than the GNP&BR's standard length of 350 feet (110 m).[20] As with other UERL stations, the platform walls were tiled with distinctive patterns, in this case cream and dark green. Only parts of the platform walls were decorated because it was planned to operate the branch with short trains.[16] Due to the reduced lift provision, a second route between the platforms and lifts was never brought into use and was left in an unfinished condition without tiling.

 

The GNP&BR's main route opened on 15 December 1906, but the Strand branch was not opened until 30 November 1907.[22] Initially, shuttle trains operated to Holborn from the eastern platform into the through platform at Holborn. At peak times, an additional train operated alternately in the branch's western tunnel into the bay platform at Holborn. During the first year of operation, a train for theatregoers operated late on Monday to Saturday evenings from Strand through Holborn and northbound to Finsbury Park; this was discontinued in October 1908.[16]

In March 1908, the off-peak shuttle service began to use the western platform at Strand and the through platform at Holborn, crossing between the two branch tunnels south of Holborn. Low usage led to the withdrawal of the second peak-hour shuttle and the eastern tunnel was taken out of use in 1914.[23][24] On 9 May 1915, three of the Underground stations in the area were renamed and Strand station became Aldwych.[22][note 2] Sunday services ended in April 1917 and, in August of the same year, the eastern tunnel and platform at Aldwych and the bay platform at Holborn were formally closed.[25] A German bombing campaign in September 1917 led the disused platform being used as storage for 300 pictures from the National Gallery until December 1918.

 

In October 1922, the ticket office was replaced by a facility in the lifts.[25] Passenger numbers remained low: when the station was one of a number on the network considered for closure in 1929, its annual usage was 1,069,650 and takings were £4,500.[27][note 3] The branch was again considered for closure in 1933, but remained open.[25]

Wartime efficiency measures led to the branch being closed temporarily on 22 September 1940, shortly after the start of The Blitz, and it was partly fitted out by the City of Westminster as an air-raid shelter. The tunnels between Aldwych and Holborn were used to store items from the British Museum, including the Elgin Marbles. The branch reopened on 1 July 1946, but patronage did not increase.[28] In 1958, the station was one of three that London Transport announced would be closed. Again it survived, but the service was reduced in June 1958 to run only during Monday to Friday peak hours and Saturday morning and early afternoons.[29][note 4] The Saturday service was withdrawn in June 1962.[29]

  

Shelterers inside Aldwych station during the Blitz, 1940.

 

After operating only during peak hours for more than 30 years, the closure announcement came on 4 January 1993. The original 1907 lifts required replacement at a cost of £3 million. This was not justifiable as only 450 passengers used the station each day and it was losing London Regional Transport £150,000 per year. The Secretary of State for Transport granted permission on 1 September 1994 to close the station and the branch closed on 30 September.

 

Although the Piccadilly Circus to City of London branch proposal of 1905 was never revisited after its withdrawal, the early plan to extend the branch south to Waterloo was revived a number of times during the station's life. The extension was considered in 1919 and 1948, but no progress towards constructing the link was made.[28]

In the years after the Second World War, a series of preliminary plans for relieving congestion on the London Underground had considered various east-west routes through the Aldwych area, although other priorities meant that these were never proceeded with. In March 1965, a British Rail and London Transport joint planning committee published "A Railway Plan for London" which proposed a new tube railway, the Fleet line (later renamed the Jubilee line), to join the Bakerloo line at Baker Street then run via Bond Street, Green Park, Charing Cross, Aldwych and into the City of London via Ludgate Circus, Cannon Street and Fenchurch Street before heading into south-east London. An interchange was proposed at Aldwych and a second recommendation of the report was the revival of the link from Aldwych to Waterloo.[31][32] London Transport had already sought parliamentary approval to construct tunnels from Aldwych to Waterloo in November 1964,[33] and in August 1965, parliamentary powers were granted. Detailed planning took place, although public spending cuts led to postponement of the scheme in 1967 before tenders were invited.[29]

Planning of the Fleet line continued and parliamentary approval was given in July 1969 for the first phase of the line, from Baker Street to Charing Cross.[34] Tunnelling began on the £35 million route in February 1972 and the Jubilee line opened north from Charing Cross in May 1979.[35] The tunnels of the approved section continued east of Charing Cross under Strand almost as far as Aldwych station, but no work at Aldwych was undertaken and they were used only as sidings.[36] Funding for the second phase of the work was delayed throughout the 1970s whilst the route beyond Charing Cross was reviewed to consider options for serving anticipated development in the London Docklands area. By 1979, the cost was estimated as £325 million, a six-fold increase from the £51 million estimated in 1970.[37] A further review of alternatives for the Jubilee line was carried out in 1980, which led to the a change of priorities and the postponement of any further effort on the line.[38] When the extension was eventually constructed in the late 1990s it took a different route, south of the River Thames via Westminster, Waterloo and London Bridge to provide a rapid link to Canary Wharf, leaving the tunnels between Green Park and Aldwych redundant.[39]

In July 2005, Ove Arup & Partners produced a report, DLR Horizon 2020 Study, for the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) examining "pragmatic development schemes" to expand and improve the DLR network between 2012 and 2020. One of the proposals was an extension of the DLR from Bank to Charing Cross via City Thameslink and Aldwych. The disused Jubilee line tunnels would be enlarged to accommodate the larger DLR trains and Aldwych station would form the basis for a new station on the line, although requiring considerable reconstruction to accommodate escalators. The estimated cost in 2005 was £232 million for the infrastructure works and the scheme was described as "strongly beneficial" as it was expected to attract passengers from the London Underground's existing east-west routes and from local buses and reduce overcrowding at Bank station. The business case assessment was that the proposal offered high value, although similar values were calculated for other extension proposals from Bank. Further detailed studies were proposed.

 

Because it was a self-contained section of the London Underground which was closed at weekends and for extended periods during weekdays, Aldwych station and the branch line from Holborn were popular locations for filming scenes set on the Tube even before their closure. Since the branch's closure in 1994, its use in film productions has continued, with the station appearing as itself and, with appropriate signage, as other stations on the network.[29] The track and infrastructure are maintained in operational condition, and a train of ex-Northern line 1972 tube stock is permanently stabled on the branch. This train can be driven up and down the branch for filming. The physical connection with the Piccadilly line northbound tracks remains, but requires manual operation.[41]

Films and television productions that have been shot at Aldwych include:

The Gentle Gunman (1952)[29]

Battle of Britain (1969)[42]

Death Line (1972)[29]

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1986)[29]

The Krays (1990)[43]

Patriot Games (1994)[43]

Creep (2004)[42]

V for Vendetta (2006)[42]

The Good Shepherd (2006)[42]

Atonement (2007)[42]

28 Weeks Later (2007)[42]

The Edge of Love (2008)[42]

Mr Selfridge (2013) [44]

The pre-war operation of the station features in a pivotal scene in Geoffrey Household's novel Rogue Male, when the pursuit of the protagonist by an enemy agent sees them repeatedly using the shuttle service on the branch line. A chase through Aldwych station ends with the agent's death by electrocution on the track.[45] A much modified and expanded version of the station appears as a level in the video game Tomb Raider III.[46] The music video for The Prodigy's song "Firestarter" was filmed in the disused eastern tunnel and one of the unused lift shafts.

 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldwych_tube_station

Turn of a Friendly Card

************************************************************

Based on a true adventures of a rogue active in the waning years of the 1930’s as discovered in the criminal archives of Chatwick University.

 

Act 1

I begin my tale in the present…

 

That afternoon a soiree was given as part of the purchase price of the tickets for the annual Autumn Charity Ball to be presented later that evening at the manor’s great house. Since I was alone, I just went mainly for the free food and to rub my elbows with the wealthy guests who would be in happy attendance there, and at the Ball. I was alone, but certainly not bored. There was a game I enjoyed playing to pass the time at these affairs that entailed scoping out by their dress and day jewels worn, those ladies whom would be most likely to be wearing the better costumes and sparklers that evening. It often proved to be a most beneficial insight into the actions and mannerisms of the very rich. I walked amongst the cheerful guests, eying one here ( a lady in satin and pearls) and another there( a high spirited girl with a diamond pin at the throat of her frilly silken blouse). It was as I was passing the latter that the friend she had been talking too (dressed like a vamp), bumped up against me. I caught her, steadying her as they both giggled. I didn’t mind, for the lassie’s too tight satin sheath tea dress had been an enticement to hold, and the gold bracelet that had been dangling from her gloved wrist had been a pleasure to observe. I kissed her gloved hand, rings glittering, as I apologized gallantly for my clumsiness. Her eyes were bright, almost as bright as the twin necklaces of gold that hung swaying down pleasantly from between her ample bosom. I left them, moving on to greener pastures, and it was very green, all of it….

 

It was then that I detected another pretty lassie. It was her long fiery red hair with falling wispy curls that first captured my attention. She was wearing a fetchingly smart white chiffon party dress that commanded me to acquire a closer examination. She appeared to be a blithe spirit, seemingly content with just being by herself and roaming about with casual elegance, the extensive grounds of the manor proper. I began to discreetly follow her at a distance. Although she did not wear any jewelry, her manner and the eloquent way she moved is what attracted me the most. It would be very interesting to seek her out later that evening and she what she would have chosen to decorate herself with. I followed her as she sojourned into the depths of a traditional English garden with a maze of lushly green trimmed 8 foot high hedges

 

As I strolled through the hedgerows in her wake I allowed my mind to wander its own course. Suddenly I straightened up, my reverie broken by an epiphany of sorts. I allowed myself to grin and the lady whose enchantment I was swollen up in, at that moment turned, and seeing my beaming smile assumed it was for her and gave me a rather cute nod of her head. I answered in same, as I headed en route to a nearby stone garden bench to allow my thoughts to think through themselves.

 

But before I go on, allow me the pleasure to sojourn and reminisce about an incident that occurred several years prior:

*******************

I was still working unaided in those days, travelling on to a new next quest that would take me just outside of Surrey.

I had just purchased my train ticket and had seen my luggage safe on board when I decided to rest in the lounge, it being some 45 minutes before allowed to enter personally aboard. Being so early the lounge was almost deserted, only one other occupant. I assumed she was waiting for someone on an incoming train due to the fact she carried no luggage. She was obviously well off, well dressed in satins and lace, and her jewels shone magnificently in the dim lights. Especially one of her rings, noticeably lying loosely around a finger, it sparkled with an expensive brilliance. I had seen one like it in a tiffanies store, worth almost 250 pounds. But she did not appreciate the show her jewelry was putting on under the lounge lights, for she was fast asleep.

 

I circled around her, aiming for a seat next to her, eyeing her and her possessions carefully. I noticed her purse had fallen off her lap and lay on the floor. An idea popped into my head, and I picked the purse up, and looked around carefully, before placing my plan into action. But I was thwarted as an older, matronly lady was spotted heading our way. I slipped the purse into my jacket and moved off before I was noticed. Of course she came in and took the empty seat across form the sleeping princess, and soon busied herself with knitting. As the older lady had sat down, not quietly, the wealthy lady stirred waking up at the noise. I went into a corner and sat, waiting. The two ladies soon fell into conversation; the minute’s ticked by excruciatingly slow. Soon I noticed we even had more company.

He was a lad of only fourteen, but with a devilish look about him that marked him a kindred spirit to meself, and his quick eyes were darting about taking it all in as he stood outside the paned glass window.

 

It was as the first announcement of boarding the train that I saw a chance for opportunity to strike.

The older lady folded up her knitting and clinching her bag, bid adieu to her new friend,( befuddled a little by the old ladies constant stream of gossip), and headed to the train. I was twenty steps ahead of her and was standing behind the youth as she left the lounge. I tapped him on the shoulder; he looked around at me suspiciously, and then caught sight of the shilling I was holding in front of his nose. I quickly whispered a few words into his ear on how he could earn it, and his grin spread as he bought into my story. I still held onto the shilling as he darted around and inside the lounge. I watched as he ran up behind the lady, circling her, then running in front of her he tripped over her leg, as she helped him up, her hand with the ring reaching down, he turned and spat onto the wrist and sleeve of that hand, than standing he ran away. Running alongside me, I handed him the shilling in passing as he ran off, disappearing in to the street.

 

I went inside and approached the astonished lady, as she was looking for her purse to get a handkerchief, confused as to its absence, while she held up her soiled hand( ring glittering furiously) in utter disbelief. I approached, catching her attention by the soothing words I uttered to her. I took her hand, unbelieving with her at just had happened, and I as I apologized for the youth of today I produced my own silk handkerchief and starting with her silky sleeve, began to wipe it off, continuing my tirade of displeasure and contempt at what had just occurred to the dear lady as I did so. As I finishing wiping her down, ending with her warm slender fingers, I kissed them, just as the last boarding announcement came over (perfect timing!) I let her go, explaining that I must catch my train. I turned and without looking back made the train just as it was letting off steam before chugging off.

 

I gained my private carriage just as the train began to lurch away. It wasn’t until after the train began its journey that I casually removed my silk handkerchief from my pocket and unwrapped it carefully, admiring up close the shimmering, valuable tiffany ring that was lying inside. I pocketed it, and then remembered the purse. I took it out and examined its contents: coin and notes equaling a handsome amount, a gold (gilded) case, embroidered lacy handkerchief, small silver flask of perfume, and ( of all things)a large shimmering prism , like one that would have dangled from a fancy crystal chandelier. A prism?, I questioned with interest as I examined it. It was pretty thing, about the circumference of a cricket ball, but shaped like a pendulum, it shimmered and glittered like the most precious of jewels. Why she had it in her purse? I couldn’t guess, and I saw no value in it, so I pocketed it and allowed it to leave my mind.

 

As I settled into my seat I began to think of the lad I had just met, I had been right on the money as far as his eagerness for mischief. Actually he reminded me of myself at that age, and I wondered if that lad with the shifty eyes would also turn out to follow the same course I had explored.

 

Which Begs the question, what had I turned out to become. And since I’m still reminiscing

I’ll give little background material about me, hopefully I don’t come across as being too conceited about my self-taught skills..

 

I had never been one to take the hard road, and even at a young age I was always looking for angles, or short cuts to make some money.

Once, while watching for some time a street magician and his acts. I observed a pick pocket working the crowd. He approached a pair of well-dressed ladies in shiny clothes, and standing behind them bided his time and then lifted a small pouch from one velvet purse, and a fat wallet from a silken one, then he moved on. Now both ladies were wearing shiny bracelets, one with jewels. I thought that he could have realized a greater profit if he had nicked one or both of the bracelets first, than try for the contents of their purses. The bracelets’ alone would have realized a far greater profit than what he lifted from their purses. It further occurred to me that by mimicking some of the sleight of hand tricks and misdirection that the magician was using on his audience, it could be accomplished. A hand placed on the right shoulder and as the lady turned right, whisk off the bracelet from her left wrist, and excuse oneself, that sort of thing.

 

So, I practiced (on my sisters, who proved to be willing accomplices to “my game”) and learned to pick their purses and pockets. I than moved onto their jewelry, starting by lifting bracelets and slipping away rings, before advancing to the brooches, necklaces and earrings they were wearing. After I was satisfied at my skill level, I went out and worked the streets. Sometimes using my one sister who was also hooked on what I was doing as a willing partner.

But I found myself still not being satisfied, in the back of my mind I thought there had to be a more lucrative way to turn a profit.

 

I’d found my answer when an attractive lady in a rustling satin gown zeroed in on me while I was “visiting” a ballroom. She was jeweled like a princess right up to the diamond band she wore holding up her piles of soft locks like a glimmering crown. The more she drank, the closer she got and I decided that her necklace would definitely help pay my expenses more than the contents of her purse (although I had already lifted the fat wallet from her small purse), and I did have very expensive tastes to pay for. So I took her onto the dance floor.

 

I was amazed at how easily I had been able to open the necklace’s clasp , slipping it over her satiny shoulder, lifting it off and placing it safely in my pocket with almost no effort. Then she decided to be playful once the song ended and brushed up against me. She felt the necklace in my pocket and before I could act she had her hand in and pulled it out.

 

The silly naive twit thought I was teasing her and told me that for my penance I had to go up to her suite in order to put it back on for her. I kept up the charade as best as I could.

 

And that’s where we ended up. A little bit of light fondling began as I placed the necklace back around her throat. I began to tease her, plied her with more and more alcohol as I tried to keep my distance, and virginity. Finally she passed out in a drunken stupor, but not before I had learned where she hid her valuables by suggesting she should lock her jewels up for the night..

 

With her safely unconscious, I began to strip her clean off all her jewels, reclaiming the necklace first. Then I visited all her jewelry casket and began looting it. I even took her small rhinestone clutch with the diamond clasp; of course I already had liberated its small wallet.

 

When I’d left her lying happily asleep in bed, still in her satin gown( the only item left to her that shined), I knew I had found a much more profitable line of “work”

 

So I began making circuits around to the haunts of the very rich, I still kept may hand in pickpocketing, so to speak, but centered only on those “pockets” containing mainly jewelry. I also began to carefully explore new ways of acquiring jewels” in masse”, so to speak.

 

Soon I had accumulated many tricks and tools, having them at my disposal to put into action once required, and for the remaining years up till the present had managed to live quite comfortably off of the ill-gotten gains using them allowed me to acquire.

 

Which brings me back to the train ride, my prism, and the rest of my background story before I retun to the present tale. Please be patient.

*****

So, anyway, I reached Surry without any further incident and disembarking, made my way out to the large country house where I would be staying to take a short rest, vacation if you will. But, pardon the play on words, for there is never any rest for the wicked, is there?

 

I had become acquainted with a servant of the old mansion ( almost a small castle, really) , that was about a mile off. I managed to learn a great deal, and soon found myself, on the pretense of visiting her, exploring the grounds. There was to be a grand ball taking place a couple of weekends away , and the maid had filled my ears with the riches that would be displayed by the multitude of regal ladies making an appearance. I began to think about trying to make a little bit of profit from my vacation. I am not sure how the idea developed, but the prism that I still had in my possession, came up centrally into my plans.

 

Late on the evening of the regal affair, I snuck over, covered head to toe in black, with my small satchel off tools by my side. I set up a candle behind an old stone ivy covered wall in a far corner of the rather large and intricate English garden that surrounded the inner circle around the mansion. I than strung the jewel-like prism in front of it. Standing behind the wall, I would strike the prism with a long stick I was holding whenever I observed sparkles emanating from silkily gowned ladies walking in the distance, solitary or in pairs. The prism would flash fire, sort of like a showy lure being used when fishing in a crooked trout stream. Only I was fishing for far sweeter game than trout. My objective was to trick certain types of jeweled ladies (scatterbrains some may call them) by luring them down onto the path beyond the wall, using their natural curiosity to my advantage.

 

I had at least two strikes rise up to my lure in the second hour.

On was a pretty lady in flowing green satin number, decorated with plenty of emeralds, which, hidden in the shadows, I observed were probably paste. I let her wonder about; as she looked and played with the shiny toy, remaining hidden until she grew bored and wandered off.

The second was a slender maiden wearing a long sleek black gown with long ivory silk gloves. I had never before seen a lady so decked out in jewels, literally head to toe. With the exception of the rhinestones adorning her heels, the rest of the lot was real, so valuably real that I could feel my mouth salivating at the thoughts of acquiring her riches. Now in Edwardian times only older, married ladies would be allowed the privilege of wearing a diamond Tiara. But in these modern times, it had become culturally acceptable for any well-to do lady, single or otherwise, to wear one out in society. Even so, they were still rarely worn, and seldom seen outside the safety of large gatherings. But there it was, a small, delicately slender piece of intricate art that glistened from the top of her head like some elegant beacon. That piece alone was probably worth more than I had made all the last four months combined!

I began to skirt around in the shadows, placing myself in position to cut off her retreat. Her diamonds blazed as she approached, eyeing the swinging prism with total concentration. Which was unfortunate, because as I was about to leave the shadows, she walked into the thorns of a rose bush, screeching out, and attracting the notice of a pair of gentlemen who had just crossed the path quite a ways off, called out when they heard the commotion. She started to become chatty with them, obviously coming on to her rescuers, my prism all but forgotten. Than before I knew it, in a swishing of her long gown, she was gone, “swimming” off before I was able to set me ”hook”.

 

Which I was able to do on the third strike, almost an hour later, just as I was beginning to ponder wither I should call it off and head back home..

 

They were a pair of young damsels in their young twenties. They may have been sisters, or cousins at the least. I still remember how my heart leapt into my throat as they observed my colourful prism and turned down the old flagstone path. I had not seen anyone out and about for some time, so I knew they would be no would be rescuers around to come to their aid

And, best of all, they were both dressed for the kill!

One, the blonde, was clad in a black velvet number that one could cannily describe as quite form fitting. As were the small ropes of pearls that hung from all points of interest, pretty with a matching pricelessness.

But her cousin, as I will refer to her, out shone black velvet quite literally.

This one, a stunning raven haired beauty, wore a long streaming gown of liquid ivory satin. A diamond brooch sparkled as it held up a fold of the gown to her waist. The fold allowed her to show a rather daring amount of a slender bare calf. The brooch was not paste, but a real jewel that had been added for the nights festivities ( To be successful, one learns to read these signs accurately) Her ears and neckline were home to a matching set of pure white diamonds. A wide diamond bracelet graced a bare right wrist ,so she must be left handed I instinctively thought, an observation that would have aided me if I were planning on having a go for slipping the bracelet from her wrist, but tonight I was planning a much more daring attempt to empty the entire jewel casket, so to speak.

 

They went to the prism, playing with it a bit, I had begun to circle around, when I noticed black velvet pointing out with multiple ringed fingers, to something further down the path past the wall.

 

With a clicking of heels I let the pair pass, they apparently wanted to see what was on the other side of the wall. I followed; it was not hard, because the necklace the raven haired one wore, diamonds fully encircling her throat, rippled and sparkled from their perch, caught in the full harvest moon’s cast, giving me more than enough light to shadow them quietly .

 

After a while they caught on that something/someone was following them, but as they turned they could see nothing. I was in black, and hooded, invisible to them in the shadows of the trees. They whispered amongst themselves, now worried, realizing that there were dangers lurking beyond the pale, in their case, the safety of the gardens , especially for ones decked out as they were. They then turned and headed right back from where they had come, right into my waiting arms.

 

It is interesting what good breeding does for young, poised ladies. For, as I stepped out of the shadows, a finger of my right hand to my lips, my Fairborn in my left hand, its black blade glinting wickedly in the moonlight , they did not scream out or shout for help. Instead the pair merely let out small gasps, and then they both, in a quite charming synchronized display of disbelief, place each one hand over their open mouths, and the other upon their perspective necklaces.

 

And as I flourished my wicked looking Fairbairn–Sykes blade in their direction, they unquestioningly reached around and undid those pretty necklaces, tremblingly handing them out to me, like actresses following a well-read script. I took the little pretties and after stuffing them into my satchel, held out again my free hand, my fingers beckoning. Not a word was spoken between us, as the frightened pair of young ladies began removing their shimmering jewels and added them in a neat little growing pile along my open palm. The raven haired girl even undid her brooch without me having to command her to do so. Once I had stashed it all away, I motioned for them to turn back around, than with a little helpful prodding on my part, they began moving forward back down the hill, away from the garden. The one in white hobbling a little now as she kept tripping over the hem of her dress, now no longer held up by the stolen brooch.

 

After we had traveled about 200 meters I had them stop, and take off their high heels. Then picking the pretty things up, I motioned them to turn back around and made them walk back the way we had come in their bare feet, watching the pair awkwardly hobble barefooted down the wooded path. They would be quite a while on their journey back, allowing me more than ample time to make me escape. I threw their shoes off to the side and went briskly the other way, reaching the place was staying at , gaining my room without notice. But not before I had hidden the jewels inside an old stump to retrieve them at a later date. I never really heard so much as a whisper of the incident, other than from the pretty lips of my friendly maiden. The wee hours of the morning before my early departure for the train station found me revisiting the stump and retrieving my satchel and its precious cargo. After hiding it all in a false bottom of my case I laid my head on the pillow and drifted off to sleep as I wondered what had happened to the little prism, marveling at how useful it had ended up proving to be.

 

So, how does this story (journey rather) relate to the one I had already started? Please read on, and enrich your curiosity… my dear readers.

****************************************************************************

Act 2

 

So, with apologies for my lengthy elucidation, but I now return you back to the garden party I was now attending on that warm fall day. But, as you will see, my prism story needed to be told in order to add a bit of flavor to what was about to unfold.

 

As I sat on the garden bench I formulated my plans. I should be able to acquire the main piece tonight at the Ball, I would have time this afternoon to retrieve my ever handy satchel and its array of tools and have it hidden at the spot I had already selected. It was perfect, located at the end of the path I had found, or rather the charming lady in the smart chiffon dress had found for me. A gas lamp would provide adequate light for my “lure”, and it led to a back wood where I could lead any victims away and liberate them of their valuables before making my escape. I rose, just enough time to walk my escape route, before setting up and then be dressed for the evening’s festivities. I looked around, I was alone now, my lady in white had disappeared, following her own course, whatever it may have been.

 

The Autumn Ball that evening was in full swing by the time I arrived. Being a cool fall day, most of the women were wearing long gowns and dresses, and that, for whatever the reason, usually meant they were decked out with more layers of jewelry than say , if it had been the middle of summer. In order to put my plan in action I need and intrinsic piece of the trap, a prism. The one I had once had was long ago lost, a minor pawn in a game to take a pair of princesses.

 

I knew exactly the type of prism required for my plan, and so began mingling amongst the guests with that in mind.

 

I started out by walking through to the chamber like ballroom where a full orchestra was starting to play. The first person I saw from the garden party was the little tramp who had been wearing the too tight satin tea dress. That dress had been replaced with a long silky gown, her gold jewelry replaced with emeralds; including a thin bracelet that had taken the place of the gold one that she had so obligingly dangled in my larcenous path. I decided to avoid her In principle, and in doing so spied someone quite interesting.

 

That someone was a pretty lady in a long velvet gown standing off to one side, idly watching the many dancers out on the floor. The dancing couples were forming an imagery of a rainbow coloured sea of slinky swirling gowns and with erupting fireworks of sparkling jewels, ignited by pair of immensely large chandeliers that hung over the dance floor, setting them off. I made my way, skirting the dance floor to reach her, my eyes on her jewels, which were making pretty fireworks of their own. I happened to walk up just as a waiter with a tray of drinks was passing by. Plucking off a drink I offered it to the lady with one hand, my other hand placed on her back as If to steady myself. She laughed prettily, and taking the drink I met her eyes, as she was focused on reaching and holding the glass in her slippery gloved hand, mine was on the ruby and diamond necklace. My hand behind her had flicked open the simple hook and eye clasp of the antique piece and was in the process of lifting it up and whisking it away from her throat. As I said a few words to her, I pocketed it, while also taking in the rest of her lovely figure and its shiny decorations, before biding adieu. She smiled, her pale bare neckline now quite glaringly extinguished of its fire.

 

It was about an hour later, after spotting, but unable to make inroads with several likely candidates, that I finally struck gold (figuratively). It came in the form of a young couple arguing between themselves in a far corner of the chamber. She was lecturing a rather handsome man in a tux, her jeweled fingers flying in his face. If she hadn’t been moving about in such an animated fashion as she lectured, I may not have even noticed her. But as it happened I did, especially noticeable was the sanctimonious lady’s wide jeweled bracelet that was bursting out in a rainbow of colorful flickers as her hand was emphatically waving, as her long gown of silk swished around with every movement she made. Perfect. I watched for a bit, and sure enough they moved off, the man heading for the patio leading outside, the wealthy girl following him, still giving him lashes with her tongue. I moved and managed to have her bump into me simply by stepping on the hemline of her long gown. For a few seconds I was the one on the receiving end of her wrath, but I took it like a man, I could see in the eyes of her tongue lashed husband, that he was grateful for the respite. I was also grateful; grateful for the quite wide, very shimmering, bracelet that I had removed from her wrist and now was residing in my pocket.

 

I began to leave the patio, but was stopped by a matronly lady in ruffles, laces and pearls, her breath heavy with alcohol. She started to question me on what the couple had been on about. Then without waiting for an answer she launched herself into a tirade of her own, her gem encrusted, silken gloved fingers, waving in my face for emphasis. It was almost ten minutes before I was able to make my escape. Which I did, but not before slipping off one of the lecturing ladies vulgarly large cocktail rings.

 

I headed onto the patio; the time was getting ripe for my plan, which I was now ready to put into motion, now having acquired its most essential piece. I went to the end of the large patio, weaving in and out of the by now well liquored guests whom had assembled there. Across the way I saw a lady tripping over her own gown. By the time I reached her she had fallen down, giggling merrily. Two of us rushed to her aid, she was busy gushed her thanks to the rescuer she knew, while ignoring the one she didn’t! Which was unfortunate on her part, for by ignoring me, she also was ignorant of the fact that I was busy lifting the small stands of black pearls from her wrist. I left unnoticed, much like a shadow fading out of the light, or at least that’s how it seemed. Finally I reached the patios outer edge without further incident, or gain. I went on the grass and turned a corner with the intention of going, post haste around the house to reach the gardens by the long way, hoping not to be seen by anyone. But I no sooner turned the corner, when I realized that it was not to be the case.

 

It was my blithe spirit in white chiffon from the garden party, pardon me, soiree. She was unescorted, looking up at the moon above a stone turret with one lit window, so intently that my presence had not been noticed. I had been absolutely correct in my observation of her as far as what she would be wearing for the evening. For what she had lacked in ornaments at the soiree, she had more than made up for in the evening festivities. She was absolutely gorgeous, resplendent in as beautiful a silvery satin gown that I had ever witness. It was just pouring down, shimmering along her delightful figure. Her long blazing red hair was still curling down and free, but now a pair of long chandelier earrings cascading down from her earlobes, were peeking out every now and then as they swayed with her every movement. Her blazingly rippling necklace was all diamonds, dripping down the front of her tightly satin covered bosom, twinkling iridescently like an intensively glimmering waterfall. Her slender gloved wrists were home to a pair of dangling diamond bracelets that were almost outshone by her many glistening rings. All in all she was quite a lure all too herself

 

I came up to her, starling her from her reverie. Taking up her hand, I looked into her startled, suddenly blushing face. I complimented her on the fine gown she wore. She thanked me, and I could see I that she suddenly remembered she me as the chap who she thought smiled to her in the garden. She seemed to accept my compliment quite readily. I chanced it( although Lord knows I was short on time) and asked her to a dance. I did not think she would agree, so it was with a little bit of surprise, hoping she would politely decline and walk off, leaving me free to go about my business unobserved. But she accepted, and I will admit that my heart leapt as she agreed (although in the back of my mind I knew I should be off if my plan was to work). The music had stopped so we made small talk as we slowly walked back to the ballroom. Her name was Katrina. It seems she was waiting for someone, which suited my plans, but he was late and so she had time. Which may have sounded dismissive, but from the apologetic way she said it, it was anything but the sort.

 

The orchestra started to tune back up as we entered, and taking her offered hand up, was soon lost in the elegance of my appealing partner. It was a long dance, and a formal one, but I could tell she was subtly anxious to be off on her meeting, as I was to be off to my own adventure. But Katrina did not really allow it to show, which was very uncharacteristic of her someone with her obvious breeding. So I was ready when the by the end of the music she begged her condolences and took flight. I watched her as she fluidly moved away, her jewels sparkling, all of them. On her mission to meet Mr. X I thought, for whom I was already harboring a quite jealous dislike. I should be off I thought to meself.

 

But I stood, still as stone; totally mesmerized by the way Katrina’s swirling silvery satin gown was playing out along her petite, jewel sparkling figure. It wasn’t till the last of her gown swished around a corner out of sight that I moved, but not without having to shake my head to clear the thoughts of her out of it. Well old son, focus. For by now the guests were starting to wander a bit afield in the waning hours of the Autumn Ball, and my small window of opportunity was closing fast. If my little plan was going to have any chance of success it would have to be now.

 

I walked out and made my way to one of the outside exist of the garden wall. Reaching into my pocket as I did so, fingering the bracelet, now cold, that had belonged to the quarrelsome lady,and soon would be playing another role, far from one its former mistress would ever have dreamed off. I also felt my new acquisition, still warm from my dance partner’s body. I will admit that I had felt a twinge of regret for taking it from a lady I had found to be most charmingly captivating. But slipping off the diamonds up and away from her throat had been as temptingly easy as it had been automatic. I had advantageously made use of the sleekness of her scintillatingly silky gown, and with the distractions created by the movements of the dance, successfully managed to keep Katrina’s attention safely diverted from the reality of why my fingers were ever so gently, caressingly sliding along her slippery gowns neckline. The truth was I had originally placed my hand there because it had felt so right, and I was a little startled when my fingers had subconsciously started playing with her necklaces clasp. Before I knew it, they had flicked open the gemstone clasp of her obviously expensive diamond necklace, and had lifted up. As I watched out of the corner of my eye, almost like I was a spectator, as opposed to being the perpetrator, I saw the chain move up and over her shoulder; its diamonds sparkling with is as the necklace disappeared from view behind her back.

It was a favored technique that I had perfected to the point that by this stage of my career I nearly always acquired my objective. But, as odd as it sounds, I was not happy with myself on this occasion.

 

But I did not long dwell on my mixed feelings on taking the charming lass’s diamonds, for by now I had reached my place of ambush. It was in one of the farthest reaches of the garden, at a bend on the end of a long path that, with a gas lamp at its beginning just off the patio, would allow me to see from some distance off. Behind me was a break in the hedge wide enough for a person to walk through comfortably. It was here, off a tree limb, underneath a second ornate cast iron gas lamp, which was now lit, that I hung the shimmering bracelet that I had sought out and acquired for just that reason

 

I walked around and saw that it could be seen flickered off in the distance from the woods, Perfect! Earlier I had hidden my satchel with a hood and knife and bit of rope in the hollow of an old tree. I now retrieved them, and after getting ready, found my position and waited. At 10 minutes past the first hour of my wait, with nary a single glimpse of anyone, I started to fidget. My corner may be just a bit too desolated I was beginning to admit to myself. It seemed that most of the guests were staying by the patio. I was starting to think that I should pack it in, possibly rejoining the guests for one last parting( of someone from her Jewelry). I was just reaching down to pick up my satchel when I suddenly saw something flash under the gas lamp at the beginning of the path, and my senses immediately perked up. I watched as the wisps of rich shimmery satin moved closer, I stiffened, drooling with anticipation, the game was afoot.

  

I could see clearly the flickering jewels she wore, and by their blazing sparkles of rippling fire, I knew that my long vigil would not have been in vain. As the lady drew I recognized her gown of silvery satin! I knew who was making those tantalizing flashes of appealing treasures. Katrina!

 

I watched as she approached, in all her glittering elegance. My heart and conscious was in turmoil, but I knew I probably would not get a second chance. I could not let her get away unscathed. Beside, from the shock of being confronted with a masked scoundrel wielding a wicked blade, she would be in no shape to recognize her assailant. She stopped, apprehensively looking back towards the bright lights of the Manor, Then turning back I saw she had a self-satisfied smile creeping upon her face. She reached up, and undoing her hair, shook it down, curls of softness cascading down, hanging loosely down. It was as she performed this provocative act, that I saw her eyes open wide in curiosity; she had spied my pretty little “prism”. The charming fish was hooked.

 

I waited, watching her approaching ever closer to fate, and from my concealment, I basked in her glow. My heart beating fast, my adrenaline pumping, for the remaining jewels (I thought of her necklace in my custody) that she possessed I already had witnessed were quite valuable. She passed my hiding spot and went to the hanging, shimmering object. As she reached up, looking around, she failed to see me approaching in the shadows. I came up from behind, jabbing a finger in her back as I reached her, I gruffly in no uncertain terms, snarled for her to freeze and make no sound. She stiffened under my touch, but made no move or outcry. I went around; pointing my knife in her direction, looking into her sad doe wide eyes as she realized what was going to happen next. She was trembling; from fear I guessed, and knew I had her right where I wanted. As I made my demands upon her, gimme them jewels sister, she, not surprisingly, was very compliant in giving them up to me. She reached for her necklace last, and looked entirely shocked to find her throat bare, as she searched the neckline of her gown I saw her look into my hand, now dripping with her precious jewelry, almost as if to see if she had not already removed it. She looked apologetically into my eyes, startled; almost pleading that she didn’t know what had happened to it. I just played dump. She than spoke for the first time, sir, may I ask to keep my purse? Her words would have instantly melted even the coldest chunk of ice, I looked down at the little silvery clutch hanging from her arm on its rhinestone chain, I nodded, indicating that she could, and saw relief wash over her face. I told her she now needed to turn around and walk off into the woods ahead of me. She hesitated, and I told her no harm would befall her, I had no intentions along those lines.

 

About 5 meters in I stopped her, and had her remove her shoes, as she bent over to undo the high heels rhinestone clasps I watched her gown tightly outlining her figure. She tripped on the hem of her gown, and as she attempted to keep her balance, accidently let her purse slip off her shoulder. Without thinking I reached down to pick it up for her as she tried reached for it simultaneously

 

The small purse was far heavier than it should have been. Curious I opened it, finding that it contained a rather extensive array of mismatched jewelry, glittering in unbelievably expensive fire . I looked into Katrina’s horror struck eyes dumb founded, as she looked guiltily into mine. The gig was up. The jewels belonged to the lady of the manor, my muse in silver was a thief, a female version of me very self.

 

Aye, what’s this than luv? I questioned her as she looked into my eyes, hers large with a mixture of fright and disbelief. She melted before me, fainting, I caught her in my arms, and it was no ruse. I held her as she came to, holding her warm, silky figure lovingly to mine. I did not know what to think. Nor could I ever explain what possessed me to do what I did next. As she came to, her eyes opened, and I removed my mask, looking back into them deeply.

 

Oh, she gasped, I’m glad it was you, startled that she had said the words out loud. She than started to coyly blushes, quite demurely. Something sparked in me, and unless she was an incredibly good actress, it did also for Katrina. Our eyes both looked into the others, melting away in the lust of the moment. We embraced, deeply, and I held her squirming warm slick figure tight in my enveloping arms. I looked over her shoulder, eyeing the glistening bracelet hanging from its branch. To catch a thief, the thought suddenly opened in my mind, what a great title for a novel I thought to myself, as I buried my nose into Katrina’s luxuriously soft hair.

 

We talked for a bit, walking off into the woods, then she looked into my eyes again, a coy, look that melted me on the spot, and that was the end of it, we embraced again, and wholly gave ourselves to one another. What about your man I asked suddenly remembering, my man she questioned , than oh, you mean the Lord, I was waiting for him to come down from smoking in his tower study, that’s where the lady’s jewels are kept. She broke into an Irish brogue as she said the last bit, and that I guessed was her natural tongue. she laid a hand on the side of my face, thanks for being jealous though, me lad.

I should collect my lure I said, which made her smile; it was such an enticing smile at that. We started to head back and watched as it dangled in front of us flickering. With a far off look in her green eyes, Katrina spoke as if in deep though.

 

The daughter of the house, she has a bracelet on like the one you have dangling, a bracelet of diamonds that I had taken a fancy to, wishing it had been in the safe along with the rest of the ladies of manors jewelry. I knew who she was talking about. The one in green taffeta I asked? Aye lad, that’s the one. Actually her necklace would be just as easy, and worth more I said. Just then her bright green eyes gleamed, Give me about a half an hour, she told me, we will put your little lure to use again. She noticed my hesitation, don’t worry luv she said soothingly placing a gloved hand to my cheek, no longer was it sparkly with its stolen bracelet and rings. I’ll leave my purse with you, can’t very well be carrying it around now can I? I nodded my consent, my mind burning with the thoughts she had alluringly placed there.

  

She turned, and then hesitated; turning back she said I probably should not go back in naked luv. I smiled, reaching in I pulled out her necklace and placed it around her throat. With a little gasp she blurted, so it was you, I was wondering who and when it had happened. It’s not the first time I’ve had me jewels lifted, but it’s a bloody annoyance to have to let them get away with it, crawls under my skin to have pretend not to notice so that I don’t draw any attention to me self before making my move to steal the posh ones jewels.

 

But you, mister, I never felt as much as a prickling. I was ready to assume my pretties had been a victim of a broken clasp this time. I gave a little nod in acceptance. That wasn’t exactly a compliment lad, she said in what I hopped was a subtle jest. Just last summer some clumsy bugger slipped of me earrings, my favorite pearls, as we were danc… she stopped, seeing the guilt in my eyes. Men! As thieves you are all of the same skin she spat out angrily, or attempted to sound angry, for the look in her eyes to me she wasn’t. I best be off, before I change me mind about out little endeavor.

 

With that she swirled around on her heels, and started off, but not before turning and giving me an extremely coy look of interest. As she swirled back around I heard her say loud enough for my ears, I’ll learn me self to be a picker of pockets, see how males like to be taken advantage of in their vulnerabilities! She nodded to herself as she said it. Then suddenly she stopped, than twirled on her heels, her gown swirling enticingly along her figure. Looking me dead in the eye she said, “Vie ne est pas d'attendre que la tempête , mais d'apprendre à danser sous la pluie” !

 

What does that mean? I questioned in a low voice, perplexed.

 

Maybe, Mon Cheri, someday I will tell you… And with that she turned on her heel, her gown once again swirling about, and went, determinedly, swishing her way back up the path. I just watched. I had never heard anyone speak French with an Irish Brogue and I had found it to be rather provocative!

 

I watched as she swished and swayed her way back through the hedge and regained the path leading back to the manor. Her plan was simple; she would lead the daughter of the house to my corner and as she had done, go out with her to look at the swinging charm. I would then make my appearance, rob both ladies of their finery, and telling the daughter to wait until I released her friend, walk off with Katrina as a hostage, and we would both take off and make good our escape. A simple plan, so simple it should actually work.

 

So, there I was. Holding a purse with a small fortune in jewels, my pocket full of more jewels worth an additional pretty farthing, and her charms were wearing off by her leaving. And my thieving nature coming back, reawakened from the spell they had been under!

 

The devil of my conscious crept out on my shoulder, the angel markedly absent from the other.

 

Look mate, she may not be all she seems, and possibly has some other game in mind. Maybe she does have a male confidante helping her out… and was actually on her way to fetch him. He said in my inner ear. And, after all, you took her diamonds twice, didn’t ye now? Do you really think shell forgive you of that me lad?

 

And there is no honor amongst thieves, as the saying goes, he added as a closing argument...

 

I rolled it over in my mind…I could leave, absconding with it all, book a cruise to the states or down under where there lay untried fertile grounds to ply my trade. Not to mention working over my fellow passengers aboard the cruise ship while they attended the fancy affairs that were always going on, or so the brochures always seemed to show……

 

Then In the distance I caught a wisp of Katrina’s long silvery gown. She was coming, and not only with the daughter of the manor, but also with a spare. For I could see a purple coloured gown swishing alongside with the prey in rustling green taffeta.. I watched as all three ladies, resplendent with the rippling fiery gems they all possessed, came up the path, gowns sweeping out , shimmery from the now misty distance.

 

The thought of making my escape with all the loot continued to haunt me, there was still time now to take off without notice, or I could rob all three, and leave with purple silk as my hostage, Katrina would not be able to say anything on chance of giving up her part of the game, or I could just be a good lad and sty with the script that Katrina had written. Take a chance, roll the dice and believe that she was all she had me believing she could ever be.

 

As they came closer I knew my time was running out. The thoughts of just looking out for myself kept coming up playing the devil with my conscience as the precious seconds ticked away…

 

No honor amongst thieves…

What will it be, old boy I challenged myself,

What will you have it be?........

To see what his decision ultimately was, and the eventual path it led to, see the album question answered)

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Life is not about waiting out the storm, but about learning to dance in the rain.

Vie ne est pas d'attendre que la tempête , mais d'apprendre à danser sous la pluie .

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Courtesy of Chatwick University Archives

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The Avengers is a spy-fi British television series created in the 1960s. The Avengers initially focused on Dr. David Keel (Ian Hendry) and his assistant John Steed (Patrick Macnee). Hendry left after the first series and Steed became the main character, partnered with a succession of assistants. Steed's most famous assistants were intelligent, stylish and assertive women: Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman), Emma Peel (Diana Rigg), and later Tara King (Linda Thorson). Later episodes increasingly incorporated elements of science fiction and fantasy, parody and British eccentricity. The Avengers ran from 1961 until 1969, screening as one hour episodes its entire run.

 

The pilot episode, "Hot Snow", aired on 7 January 1961.

The final episode, "Bizarre", aired on 21 May 1969.

 

The Avengers was produced by ABC Television, a contractor within the ITV network. After a merger in July 1968 ABC Television became Thames Television, which continued production of the series although it was still broadcast under the ABC name. By 1969 The Avengers was shown in more than 90 countries. ITV produced a sequel series The New Avengers (1976–1977) with Patrick Macnee returning as John Steed, and two new partners.

 

In 2007 The Avengers was ranked #20 on TV Guide's Top Cult Shows Ever

 

1961: With Dr David Keel (Ian Hendry)

 

The Avengers began in the episode Hot Snow, with medical doctor, Dr David Keel (Ian Hendry), investigating the murder of his fiancée and office receptionist Peggy by a drug ring. A stranger named John Steed, who was investigating the ring, appeared and together they set out to avenge her death in the first two episodes. Afterwards, Steed asked Keel to partner him as needed to solve crimes.

 

The Avengers followed Hendry's Police Surgeon, in which he played police surgeon Geoffrey Brent.[3] While Police Surgeon did not last long, viewers praised Hendry. Hendry was considered the star of the new series, receiving top billing over Macnee, and Steed did not appear in two episodes.

 

As the series progressed, Steed's importance increased, and he carried the final episode solo. While Steed and Keel used wit while discussing crimes and dangers, the series also depicted the interplay—and often tension—between Keel's idealism and Steed's professionalism. As seen in one of the two surviving episodes from the first series, "The Frighteners", Steed also had helpers among the population who provided information, similar to the "Baker Street Irregulars" of Sherlock Holmes.

 

The other regular in the first series was Carol Wilson (Ingrid Hafner), the nurse and receptionist who replaced the slain Peggy. Carol assisted Keel and Steed in cases, without being part of Steed's inner circle. Hafner had played opposite Hendry as a nurse in Police Surgeon.[3]

 

The series was shot on 405-line videotape using a multicamera setup. There was little provision for editing and virtually no location footage (although the very first shot of the first episode consisted of location footage). As was standard practice at the time, videotapes of early episodes of The Avengers were reused. Of the first series, two complete episodes still exist, as 16 mm film telerecordings. One of the episodes remaining does not feature Steed. The first 15 minutes of the first episode also exists as a telerecording; the extant footage ends at the conclusion of the first act, prior to the introduction of John Steed.

 

The missing television episodes are currently being re-created for audio by Big Finish Productions under the title of The Avengers - The Lost Episodes[4] and star Julian Wadham as Steed, Anthony Howell as Dr. Keel and Lucy Briggs-Owen as Carol Wilson.

 

1962–64: With Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman), Venus Smith (Julie Stevens) and Dr Martin King (Jon Rollason)

  

Patrick Macnee as John Steed and Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale

Production of the first series was cut short by a strike. By the time production could begin on the second series, Hendry had quit to pursue a film career. Macnee was promoted to star and Steed became the focus of the series, initially working with a rotation of three different partners. Dr Martin King (Jon Rollason), a thinly disguised rewriting of Keel, saw action in only three episodes produced from scripts written for the first series. King was intended to be a transitional character between Keel and Steed's two new female partners, but while the Dr. King episodes were shot first, they were shown out of production order in the middle of the season. The character was thereafter quickly and quietly dropped.

 

Nightclub singer Venus Smith (Julie Stevens) appeared in six episodes. She was a complete "amateur", meaning that she did not have any professional crime-fighting skills as did the two doctors. She was excited to be participating in a "spy" adventure alongside secret agent Steed (although at least one episode—"The Removal Men"—indicates she is not always enthusiastic). Nonetheless, she appears to be attracted to him and their relationship appears similar to that later displayed between Steed and Tara King. Her episodes featured musical interludes showcasing her singing performances. The character of Venus underwent some revision during her run, adopting more youthful demeanour and dress.

 

The first episode broadcast in the second series had introduced the partner who would change the show into the format for which it is most remembered. Honor Blackman played Dr Cathy Gale, a self-assured, quick-witted anthropologist who was skilled in judo and had a passion for wearing leather clothes.[5] Widowed during the Mau Mau years in Kenya, she was the "talented amateur" who saw her aid to Steed's cases as a service to her nation. Gale was said to have been born 5 October 1930 at midnight, and was raised in Africa. Gale was early-to-mid 30s during her tenure, in contrast to female characters in similar series who tended to be younger.

 

Gale was unlike any female character seen before on British TV and became a household name. Reportedly, part of her charm came from the fact that her earliest appearances were episodes in which dialogue written for Keel was simply transferred to her. Said series script writer Dennis Spooner "there's the famous story of how Honor Blackman played Ian Hendry's part, which is why they stuck her in leather and such—it was so much cheaper than changing the lines!"[6]

 

Venus Smith did not return for the third series and Cathy Gale became Steed's only regular partner. The series established a level of sexual tension between Steed and Gale, but the writers were not allowed to go beyond flirting and innuendo. Despite this the relationship between Steed and Gale was progressive for 1962–63. In "The Golden Eggs" it is revealed that Gale lived in Steed's flat; her rent according to Steed was to keep the refrigerator well-stocked and to cook for him (she appears to do neither). However, this was said to be a temporary arrangement while Gale looked for a new home, and Steed was sleeping at a hotel.

 

During the first series there were hints Steed worked for a branch of British Intelligence, and this was expanded in the second series. Steed initially received orders from different superiors, including someone referred to as "Charles", and "One-Ten" (Douglas Muir). By the third series the delivery of Steed's orders was not depicted on screen or explained. In "The Nutshell" the secret organisation to which Steed belongs is shown, and it is Gale's first visit to their HQ.

 

Small references to Steed's background were occasionally made. In series three's "Death of a Batman" it was said that Steed was with I Corps in World War II, and in Munich in 1945. In series four episode "The Hour That Never Was" Steed goes to a reunion of his RAF regiment.

 

A film version of the series was in its initial planning stages by late 1963 after series three was completed. An early story proposal paired Steed and Gale with a male and female duo of American agents, to make the movie appeal to the American market. Before the project could gain momentum Blackman was cast opposite Sean Connery in Goldfinger, requiring her to leave the series.

 

Series transformation

 

During the Gale era, Steed was transformed from a rugged trenchcoat-wearing agent into the stereotypical English gentleman (he had first donned bowler and carried his distinctive umbrella part way through the first season as 'The Frighteners' depicts), complete with Savile Row suit, bowler hat and umbrella with clothes later designed by Pierre Cardin. (The bowler and umbrella were soon changed to be full of tricks, including a sword hidden within the umbrella handle and a steel plate concealed in the hat.) These items were referred to in the French, German and Polish titles of the series, Chapeau melon et bottes de cuir ("Bowler hat and leather boots"), Mit Schirm, Charme und Melone ("With Umbrella, Charm and Bowler Hat") and Rewolwer i melonik ("A Revolver and a Bowler Hat"), respectively. With his impeccable manners, old world sophistication, and vintage automobiles, Steed came to represent the traditional Englishman of an earlier era.

 

By contrast his partners were youthful, forward-looking, and always dressed in the latest mod fashions. Gale's innovative leather outfits suited her many athletic fight scenes. Honor Blackman became a star in Britain with her black leather outfits and boots (nicknamed "kinky boots") and her judo-based fighting style. Macnee and Blackman even released a novelty song called "Kinky Boots". Some of the clothes seen in The Avengers were designed at the studio of John Sutcliffe who published the AtomAge fetish magazine.

 

Series script writer Dennis Spooner said that the series would frequently feature Steed visiting busy public places such as the main airport in London, without anyone else present in the scene. "'Can't you afford extras?' they'd ask. Well it wasn't like that; it's just that Steed had to be alone to be accepted. Put him in a crowd and he sticks out like a sore thumb! Let's face it, with normal people he's weird. The trick to making him acceptable is never to show him in a normal world, just fighting villains who are odder than he is!"[6]

 

1965–68: With Emma Peel (Diana Rigg)

 

In 1965 the show was sold to United States network, the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). The Avengers became one of the first British series to be aired on prime time U.S. television. The ABC network paid the then-unheard of sum of $2 million for the first 26 episodes. The average budget for each episode was reportedly £56,000, high for the British industry. The fourth series aired in the U.S. from March to December 1966.

 

Previously The Avengers had been shot on 405-line videotape using a multicamera setup, with very little provision for editing and virtually no location footage. The U.S. deal meant that the producers could afford to start shooting the series on 35mm film. The use of film rather than videotape was essential, as British 405-line video was technically incompatible with the U.S. NTSC videotape format. Filmed productions were standard on U.S. prime time television at that time. The Avengers continued to be produced in black and white.

 

The transfer to film meant that episodes would be shot using the single camera setup, giving the production greater flexibility. The use of film production and the single camera production style allowed more sophisticated visuals and camera angles and more outdoor location shots, all of which greatly improved the look of the series. As was standard on British television filmed production through the 1960s, all location work on series four was shot mute with the soundtrack created in post production. Dialogue scenes were filmed in the studio, leading to some jumps between location and studio footage.

     

Diana Rigg as Mrs Emma Peel

New female partner Mrs Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) debuted in this series, in October 1965. The name of the character derived from a comment by writers, during development, that they wanted a character with "man appeal". In an early attempt to incorporate this concept into the character's name, she was called "Samantha Peel", shortened to the awkward "Mantha Peel".[7] Eventually the writers began referring to the idea by the verbal shorthand, "M. Appeal",[8] which gave rise to the character's ultimate name. Emma Peel, whose husband went missing while flying over the Amazon, retained the self-assuredness of Gale, combined with superior fighting skills, intelligence, and a contemporary fashion sense.

 

After more than 60 actresses had been auditioned, the first choice to play the role was Elizabeth Shepherd. However, after filming one and a half episodes (the pilot; 'The Town of No Return' and part of 'The Murder Market'), Shepherd was released. Her on-screen personality was deemed less interesting than that of Blackman's Gale and it was decided she was not right for the role. Another 20 actresses were auditioned before the show's casting director suggested that producers Brian Clemens and Albert Fennell check out a televised drama featuring the relatively unknown Rigg (she had earlier guested in an episode of the TV show; 'The Sentimental Agent' that Clemens had written). Her screen test with Macnee showed that the two immediately worked well together, and a new era in Avengers history began.

 

A prologue was added to the beginning of all the fourth series episodes for the American transmissions. This was to clarify some initial confusion audiences had regarding the characters and their mission. In the opener, a waiter holding a champagne bottle falls dead onto a human-sized chessboard; a dagger protruding from a target on his back. Steed and Mrs. Peel (dressed in her trademark leather catsuit) walk up to the body as the voice over explains: "Extraordinary crimes against the people, and the state, have to be avenged by agents extraordinary. Two such people are John Steed, top professional, and his partner Emma Peel, talented amateur. Otherwise known as The Avengers." During this voice over, Steed pours two drinks from the wine bottle and Mrs Peel replaces her gun in her boot. They clink glasses and depart together. Fade to black and then the opening titles proper begin.

     

Film location plate presented by ABC TV to the Stapleford Miniature Railway, which is still in use today

In contrast to the Gale episodes, there was a lighter, comic touch in Steed and Peel's interactions with each other and their reactions to other characters and situations. Earlier series had a harder tone, with the Gale era including some quite serious espionage dramas. This almost completely disappeared as Steed and Peel visibly enjoyed topping each other's witticisms. The layer of conflict with Gale – who on occasion openly resented being used by Steed, often without her permission – was absent from Steed's interaction with Peel. Also the sexual tension between Steed and Gale was not present with Peel. In both cases, the exact relationship between the partners was left ambiguous, although they seemed to have carte blanche to visit each other's homes whenever they pleased and it was not uncommon for scenes to suggest Steed had spent the night at Gale's or Peel's home, or vice-versa. Although nothing "improper" was displayed, the obviously much closer chemistry between Steed and Peel constantly suggests intimacy between the two.

 

Science fiction fantasy elements (a style later known as Spy-fi) emerged in stories. The duo encountered killer robots ("The Cybernauts") and giant alien carnivorous plants ("The Man-Eater of Surrey Green").

 

In her fourth episode, "Death at Bargain Prices", Mrs Peel takes an undercover job at a department store. Her uniform for promoting space-age toys is an elaborate leather catsuit plus silver boots, sash, and welder's gloves. The suit minus the silver accessories became her signature outfit, which she wore primarily for fight scenes, in early episodes, and in the titles. There was a fetishistic undercurrent in some episodes. In "A Touch of Brimstone" Mrs Peel dressed in a dominatrix outfit of corset, laced boots and spiked collar to become the "Queen of Sin".

 

Peel's avant-garde fashions, featuring bold accents and high-contrast geometric patterns, emphasized her youthful, contemporary personality. She represented the modern England of the Sixties – just as Steed, with his vintage style and mannerisms, personified Edwardian era nostalgia. According to Macnee in his book The Avengers and Me, Rigg disliked wearing leather and insisted on a new line of fabric athletic wear for the fifth series. Alun Hughes, who had designed clothing for Diana Rigg's personal wardrobe, was suggested by the actress to design Emma Peel's "softer" new wardrobe. Pierre Cardin was brought in to design a new wardrobe for Macnee. In America, TV Guide ran a four-page photospread on Rigg's new "Emmapeeler" outfits (10–16 June 1967). Eight tight-fitting jumpsuits in a variety of bright colors were created using the stretch fabric crimplene.

 

Another memorable feature of the show from this point onwards was its automobiles. Steed's signature cars were vintage 1926–1928 Bentley racing or town cars, including Blower Bentleys and Bentley Speed Sixes (although, uniquely, in "The Thirteenth Hole" he drives a Vauxhall 30/98), while Peel drove a sporty Lotus Elan convertible which, like her clothes, emphasized her independence and vitality. During the first Peel series, each episode ended with a short, comedic scene of the duo leaving the scene of their most recent adventure in some unusual vehicle.

 

For this series Diana Rigg's stunt double was stuntman Billy Westley, Patrick Macnee's stunt double was Peter Clay.

 

Fifth series

 

After one filmed series (of 26 episodes) in black and white, The Avengers began filming in colour for the fifth series in 1966. It was three years before Britain's ITV network began full colour broadcasting.

 

This series was broadcast in the U.S. from January to May 1967. The American prologue of the previous series was rejigged for the colour episodes. It opened with the caption The Avengers In Color (required by ABC for colour series at that time). This was followed by Steed unwrapping the foil from a champagne bottle and Peel shooting the cork away. (Unlike the "chessboard" opening of the previous series, this new prologue was also included in UK broadcasts of the series.)

 

The first 16 episodes of the fifth series begin with Peel receiving a call-to-duty message from Steed: "Mrs Peel, we're needed." Peel was conducting her normal activities when she unexpectedly received a message on a calling card or within a delivered gift, at which point Steed suddenly appeared (usually in her apartment). The messages were delivered by Steed in increasingly bizarre ways as the series progressed: in a newspaper Peel had just bought, or on traffic lights while she was out driving. On one occasion Steed appeared on her television set, interrupting an old science-fiction movie (actually clips from their Year Four episode "The Cybernauts") to call her to work. Another way Steed contacted her was in the beginning of episode 13, "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Station" when she enters her flat and sees a Meccano Percy the Small Engine going around a circular track with a note on one of the train cars that says "Mrs. Peel" in bold letters, she then walks over to Steed who says "you're needed". At the start of "The Hidden Tiger" Peel is redecorating her apartment (wearing a jumpsuit and drinking champagne); she peels off a strip of wallpaper, revealing the words "Mrs Peel" painted on the wall beneath. She turns to see Steed in the apartment removing another strip of wallpaper, revealing "We're needed" painted underneath on another wall. In another instance Emma enters Steed's flat to find he has just fallen down the stairs, and he painfully gasps, "Mrs Peel, you're needed." Often the episode's tag scene returned to the situation of the "Mrs Peel, we're needed" scene. "The Hidden Tiger" returns to the partially redecorated apartment where Steed begins painting a love heart and arrow and the initials of two people on the wall, but paints over the initials when Peel sees his graffito. In "The Superlative Seven" the call to duty and the tag both involve a duck shooting situation where unexpected items fall from the sky after shots are fired.

 

The series also introduced a comic tag line caption to the episode title, using the format of "Steed [does this], Emma [does that]." For example "The Joker" had the opening caption: "Steed trumps an ace, Emma plays a lone hand".('The Joker' was to a large extent a re-write colour episode of the earlier Cathy Gale b/w era story; 'Don't Look Behind You' as were a few other later episodes re-writes in colour of b/w era tales.)

 

The "Mrs Peel, we're needed" scenes and the alternate tag lines were dropped after the first 16 episodes, after a break in production, for financial reasons. They were deemed by the U.K. networks as disposable if The Avengers was to return to ITV screens. (Dave Rogers' book The Avengers Anew lists a set for every Steed/Peel episode except "The Forget-Me-Knot".)

 

Stories were increasingly characterised by a futuristic, science fiction bent, with mad scientists and their creations wreaking havoc. The duo dealt with being shrunk to doll size ("Mission... Highly Improbable"), pet cats being electrically altered into ferocious and lethal "miniature tigers" ("The Hidden Tiger"), killer automata ("Return of The Cybernauts"), mind-transferring machines ("Who's Who???"), and invisible foes ("The See-Through Man").

 

The series parodied its American contemporaries with episodes such as "The Girl From AUNTIE", "Mission... Highly Improbable" and "The Winged Avenger" (spoofing The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Mission: Impossible and Batman, respectively). The show still carried the basic format – Steed and his associate were charged with solving the problem in the space of a 50-minute episode, thus preserving the safety of 1960s Britain.

 

Comedy was evident in the names and acronyms of the organizations. For example, in "The Living Dead", two rival groups examine reported ghost sightings: FOG (Friends Of Ghosts) and SMOG (Scientific Measurement Of Ghosts). "The Hidden Tiger" features the Philanthropic Union for Rescue, Relief and Recuperation of Cats—PURRR—led by characters named Cheshire, Manx, and Angora.

 

The series also occasionally adopted a metafictional tone, coming close to breaking the fourth wall. In the series 5 episode "Something Nasty in the Nursery" Peel directly references the series' storytelling convention of having potentially helpful sources of information killed off just before she or Steed arrive. This then occurs a few minutes later. In the tag scene for the same episode, Steed and Peel tell viewers – indirectly – to tune in next week.

 

For this series Diana Rigg's stunt double was stuntwoman Cyd Child, though stuntman Peter Elliot doubled for Rigg in a stunt dive in "The Bird Who Knew Too Much".

 

Rigg's departure

 

Rigg was initially unhappy with the way she was treated by the show's producers. During her first series she learned she was being paid less than the camera man. She demanded a raise, to put her more on a par with her co-star, or she would leave the show. The producers gave in, thanks to the show's great popularity in the US.

 

At the end of the fifth series in 1967, Rigg left to pursue other projects. This included following Honor Blackman to play a leading role in a James Bond film, in this case On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

 

Rigg and Macnee have remained lifelong friends.

 

1968–69: With Tara King (Linda Thorson)

  

Thorson and Macnee

When Diana Rigg left the series in October 1967, the British network executives decided that the current series formula, despite resulting in popular success, could not be pursued further. Thus they decided that a "return to realism" was appropriate for the sixth series (1968–69). Brian Clemens and Albert Fennel were replaced by John Bryce, producer of most of the Cathy Gale-era episodes.

 

Bryce had a difficult situation in hand. He had to find a replacement for Diana Rigg and shoot the first seven episodes of the new series, which were supposed to be shipped to America together with the last eight Emma Peel colour episodes.

 

Bryce signed his then-girlfriend, 20-year-old newcomer Linda Thorson, as the new female costar and chose the name "Tara King" for her character. Thorson played the role with more innocence in mind and at heart; and unlike the previous partnerships with Cathy and Emma, the writers allowed subtle hints of romance to blossom between Steed and King. King also differed from Steed's previous partners in that she was a fully fledged (albeit initially inexperienced) agent working for Steed's organisation; his previous partners had all been (in the words of the prologue used for American broadcasts of the first Rigg series) talented amateurs. Bryce wanted Tara to be blonde, so Thorson's brown hair was bleached. However the process badly damaged Thorson's hair, so she had to wear wigs for the first third of her episodes, until her own hair grew back. Her natural brown hair was not seen until the episode "All Done with Mirrors".

 

Production of the first seven episodes of the sixth series began. However financial problems and internal difficulties undermined Bryce's effort. He only managed to complete three episodes: "Invitation to a Killing" (a 90-minute episode introducing Tara King), "The Great, Great Britain Crime" (some of its original footage was reused in the 1969 episode "Homicide and Old Lace") and "Invasion of the Earthmen" (which survived relatively intact except for the scenes in which Tara wears a brown wig.)

 

After a rough cut screening of these episodes to studio executives, Bryce was fired and Clemens and Fennel were summoned back. At their return, a fourth episode called "The Murderous Connection" was in its second day of production. After revising the script, it was renamed as "The Curious Case of the Countless Clues" and production was resumed. Production of the episode "Split!", a leftover script from the Emma Peel colour series, proceeded. Two completely new episodes were also shot: "Get-A-Way", and "Look (Stop Me If You've Heard This One) But There Were These Two Fellers".

 

Dennis Spooner said of the event that "Brian left The Avengers for about three episodes, someone took over, and when Brian came back, it was in a terrible state. He was faced with doing a rewrite on a film they'd already shot." The episode had a story error where Steed leaves for a destination. The villains then realise this and pursue him – yet arrive there before Steed does. It was fixed by having a character ask Steed 'What took you so long?', to which he replies 'I came the pretty way'. "You can only do that on The Avengers you see. It was just my favourite show to work on."[10]

 

Clemens and Fennel decided to film a new episode to introduce Tara King. This, the third episode filmed for the sixth series, was titled "The Forget-Me-Knot" and bade farewell to Emma Peel and introduced her successor, a trained but inexperienced agent named Tara King. It would be broadcast as the first episode of the sixth series. Tara debuts in dynamic style: when Steed is called to Headquarters, he is attacked and knocked down by trainee agent King who mistakes him for her training partner.

 

No farewell scenes for Emma Peel had been shot when Diana Rigg left the series. Rigg was recalled for "The Forget-Me-Knot", through which Emma acts as Steed's partner as usual. Rigg also filmed a farewell scene for Emma which appeared as the tag scene of the episode. It was explained that Emma's husband, Peter Peel, was found alive and rescued, and she left the British secret service to be with him. Emma visits Steed to say goodbye, and while leaving she passes Tara on the stairway giving the advice that "He likes his tea stirred anti-clockwise." Steed looks out the window as a departing Emma enters the Bentley driven by Peter – who from a distance seems to resemble Steed (and was played by Patrick Macnee, wearing a bowler hat and umbrella).

 

Bryce's original episode introducing Tara, "Invitation to a Killing", was revised as a regular 60-minute episode named "Have Guns Will Haggle". These episodes, together with "Invasion of the Earthmen" and the last eight Peel colour episodes, were shipped to America in February 1968.

 

For this series the government official who gave Steed his orders was depicted on screen. Mother, introduced in "The Forget-Me-Knot", is a man in a wheelchair. The role was taken by Patrick Newell who had played different roles in two earlier episodes, most recently in series five. Mother's headquarters would shift from place to place, including one episode where his complete office was on the top level of a double-decker bus. (Several James Bond films of the 1970s would make use of a similar gimmick for Bond's briefings.)

 

Added later as a regular was Mother's mute Amazonian assistant, Rhonda (Rhonda Parker). There was one appearance by an agency official code-named "Father", a blind older woman played by Iris Russell. (Russell had appeared in the series several times previously in other roles.) In one episode, "Killer", Steed is paired with Lady Diana Forbes Blakeney (Jennifer Croxton) while King is on holiday.

 

Scriptwriter Dennis Spooner later reflected on this series. "When I wrote "Look (Stop Me If You've Heard This One) But There Were These Two Fellers", that was definitely the last series. They were going to make no more, so in that series we went right over the top; we went really weird, because they knew there weren't going to be any more."[11]

 

Spooner said the series "worked because it became a parody on itself, almost. You can only do that so long." Overall he attributes the success of the show to its light approach. "We spoofed everything, we took Mission: Impossible, Bad Day at Black Rock, High Noon, The Dirty Dozen, The Birds... we took them all. The film buffs used to love it. There were always lines in it that people knew what we were talking about."[11]

 

Vehicle wise, Steed continued to drive vintage green Bentleys in the first seven episodes in production. His regular transport for the remainder of the series were two yellow Rolls-Royce cars. Mother also occasionally appeared in silver Rolls-Royces. Tara King drove an AC 428 and a Lotus Europa. Lady Diana Forbes Blakeney drove an MGC Roadster.

 

The revised series continued to be broadcast in America. The episodes with Linda Thorson as King proved to be highly rated in Europe and the UK. In the United States however, the ABC network that carried the series chose to air it opposite the number one show in the country at the time, Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. Steed and King could not compete, and the show was cancelled in the US. Without this vital commercial backing, production could not continue in Britain either, and the series ended in May 1969. The final scene of the final episode ("Bizarre") has Steed and King, champagne glasses in hand, accidentally launching themselves into orbit aboard a rocket, as Mother breaks the fourth wall and says to the audience, "They'll be back!" before adding in shock, "They're unchaperoned up there!"

 

************************************************************************************

Courtesy of Chatwick University Archives, 1960

 

The only completed passageway leading from the lift shaft to Platform 1.

 

Aldwych tube station is a closed station on the London Underground, located in the City of Westminster in central London. It was opened in 1907 with the name Strand, after the street on which it is located, and was the terminus and only station on the short Piccadilly line branch from Holborn that was a relic of the merger of two railway schemes. The station building is close to the junction of Strand and Surrey Street, near Aldwych. During its lifetime, the branch was the subject of a number of unrealised extension proposals that would have seen the tunnels through the station extended southwards, usually to Waterloo.

Served by a shuttle train for most of their life and suffering from low passenger numbers, the station and branch were considered for closure several times. A weekday peak hours-only service survived until closure in 1994, when the cost of replacing the lifts was considered too high compared to the income generated.

Disused parts of the station and the running tunnels were used during both World Wars to shelter artworks from London's public galleries and museums from bombing.

The station has long been popular as a filming location and has appeared as itself and as other London Underground stations in a number of films. In recognition of its historical significance, the station is a Grade II listed building.

 

The Great Northern and Strand Railway (GN&SR) first proposed a station in the Strand area in a private bill presented to Parliament in November 1898.[2] The station was to be the southern terminus of an underground railway line planned to run from Wood Green station (now Alexandra Palace) via Finsbury Park and King's Cross and was originally to be located at the corner of Stanhope Street and Holles Street, north of the Strand. When the two streets were scheduled for demolition as part of the London County Council's plans for the construction of Kingsway and Aldwych, the GN&SR moved the location to the junction of the two new roads.[3] Royal Assent to the bill was given and the Great Northern and Strand Railway Act 1899 was enacted on 1 August.[4]

In September 1901, the GN&SR was taken over by the Brompton and Piccadilly Circus Railway (B&PCR), which planned to build an underground line from South Kensington to Piccadilly Circus via Knightsbridge. Both were under the control of Charles Yerkes through his Metropolitan District Electric Traction Company and, in June 1902, were transferred to Yerkes' new holding company, the Underground Electric Railways Company of London (UERL).[5] Neither of the railways had carried out any construction, but the UERL obtained permission for new tunnels between Piccadilly Circus and Holborn to connect the two routes. The companies were formally merged as the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway (GNP&BR) following parliamentary approval in November 1902.[6][7][8] Prior to confirmation of the merger, the GN&SR had sought permission to extend its line southwards from the future junction of Kingsway and Aldwych, under Norfolk Street to a new interchange under the Metropolitan District Railway's station at Temple. The extension was rejected following objections from the Duke of Norfolk under whose land the last part of the proposed tunnels would have run.[9]

In 1903, the GNP&BR sought permission for a branch from Piccadilly Circus to run under Leicester Square, Strand, and Fleet Street and into the City of London. The branch would have passed and interchanged with the already approved Strand station,[10] allowing travel on the GNP&BR from Strand in three directions. The deliberations of a Royal Commission on traffic in London prevented parliamentary consideration of the proposal, which was withdrawn.[11]

In 1905, with the Royal Commission's report about to be published, the GNP&BR returned to Parliament with two bills for consideration. The first bill revived the 1903 proposal for a branch from Piccadilly Circus to the City of London, passing and interchanging with Strand station. The second proposed an extension and relocation of Strand station to the junction of Strand and Surrey Street. From there the line was to continue as a single tunnel under the River Thames to Waterloo. The first bill was again delayed and withdrawn. Of the second, only the relocation of Strand station was permitted.

 

The linking of the GN&SR and B&PCR routes meant that the section of the GN&SR south of Holborn became a branch from the main route. The UERL began constructing the main route in July 1902. Progress was rapid, so that it was largely complete by the Autumn of 1906.[13] Construction of the Holborn to Strand section was delayed while the London County Council constructed Kingsway and the tramway subway running beneath it and while the UERL decided how the junction between the main route and the branch would be arranged at Holborn.[14][note 1]

Strand station was built on the site of the Royal Strand Theatre, which had closed on 13 May 1905 and been demolished. Construction of the station began on 21 October 1905,[16] to a design by the UERL's architect Leslie Green in the UERL house style of a two-storey steel-framed building faced with red glazed terracotta blocks, with wide semi-circular windows on the upper floor.[17] The station building is L-shaped, with two façades separated by the building on the corner of Strand and Surrey Street. The Strand façade is narrow with a single semi-circular window above the entrance. The façade in Surrey Street is wider with a separate entrance and exit and a shop unit. In anticipation of a revival of the extension to Waterloo and the City route, the station was built with three circular lift shafts able to accommodate six trapezium-shaped lifts. Only one of the shafts was fitted out, with two lifts.[18] The other two shafts rose from the lower concourse to the basement of the station, but could have been extended upwards into the space of the shop unit when required. A fourth smaller-diameter shaft accommodated an emergency spiral stair.[19]

The platforms are 92 feet 6 inches (28.19 m) below street level and are 250 feet (76 m) long;[16] shorter than the GNP&BR's standard length of 350 feet (110 m).[20] As with other UERL stations, the platform walls were tiled with distinctive patterns, in this case cream and dark green. Only parts of the platform walls were decorated because it was planned to operate the branch with short trains.[16] Due to the reduced lift provision, a second route between the platforms and lifts was never brought into use and was left in an unfinished condition without tiling.

 

The GNP&BR's main route opened on 15 December 1906, but the Strand branch was not opened until 30 November 1907.[22] Initially, shuttle trains operated to Holborn from the eastern platform into the through platform at Holborn. At peak times, an additional train operated alternately in the branch's western tunnel into the bay platform at Holborn. During the first year of operation, a train for theatregoers operated late on Monday to Saturday evenings from Strand through Holborn and northbound to Finsbury Park; this was discontinued in October 1908.[16]

In March 1908, the off-peak shuttle service began to use the western platform at Strand and the through platform at Holborn, crossing between the two branch tunnels south of Holborn. Low usage led to the withdrawal of the second peak-hour shuttle and the eastern tunnel was taken out of use in 1914.[23][24] On 9 May 1915, three of the Underground stations in the area were renamed and Strand station became Aldwych.[22][note 2] Sunday services ended in April 1917 and, in August of the same year, the eastern tunnel and platform at Aldwych and the bay platform at Holborn were formally closed.[25] A German bombing campaign in September 1917 led the disused platform being used as storage for 300 pictures from the National Gallery until December 1918.

 

In October 1922, the ticket office was replaced by a facility in the lifts.[25] Passenger numbers remained low: when the station was one of a number on the network considered for closure in 1929, its annual usage was 1,069,650 and takings were £4,500.[27][note 3] The branch was again considered for closure in 1933, but remained open.[25]

Wartime efficiency measures led to the branch being closed temporarily on 22 September 1940, shortly after the start of The Blitz, and it was partly fitted out by the City of Westminster as an air-raid shelter. The tunnels between Aldwych and Holborn were used to store items from the British Museum, including the Elgin Marbles. The branch reopened on 1 July 1946, but patronage did not increase.[28] In 1958, the station was one of three that London Transport announced would be closed. Again it survived, but the service was reduced in June 1958 to run only during Monday to Friday peak hours and Saturday morning and early afternoons.[29][note 4] The Saturday service was withdrawn in June 1962.[29]

  

Shelterers inside Aldwych station during the Blitz, 1940.

 

After operating only during peak hours for more than 30 years, the closure announcement came on 4 January 1993. The original 1907 lifts required replacement at a cost of £3 million. This was not justifiable as only 450 passengers used the station each day and it was losing London Regional Transport £150,000 per year. The Secretary of State for Transport granted permission on 1 September 1994 to close the station and the branch closed on 30 September.

 

Although the Piccadilly Circus to City of London branch proposal of 1905 was never revisited after its withdrawal, the early plan to extend the branch south to Waterloo was revived a number of times during the station's life. The extension was considered in 1919 and 1948, but no progress towards constructing the link was made.[28]

In the years after the Second World War, a series of preliminary plans for relieving congestion on the London Underground had considered various east-west routes through the Aldwych area, although other priorities meant that these were never proceeded with. In March 1965, a British Rail and London Transport joint planning committee published "A Railway Plan for London" which proposed a new tube railway, the Fleet line (later renamed the Jubilee line), to join the Bakerloo line at Baker Street then run via Bond Street, Green Park, Charing Cross, Aldwych and into the City of London via Ludgate Circus, Cannon Street and Fenchurch Street before heading into south-east London. An interchange was proposed at Aldwych and a second recommendation of the report was the revival of the link from Aldwych to Waterloo.[31][32] London Transport had already sought parliamentary approval to construct tunnels from Aldwych to Waterloo in November 1964,[33] and in August 1965, parliamentary powers were granted. Detailed planning took place, although public spending cuts led to postponement of the scheme in 1967 before tenders were invited.[29]

Planning of the Fleet line continued and parliamentary approval was given in July 1969 for the first phase of the line, from Baker Street to Charing Cross.[34] Tunnelling began on the £35 million route in February 1972 and the Jubilee line opened north from Charing Cross in May 1979.[35] The tunnels of the approved section continued east of Charing Cross under Strand almost as far as Aldwych station, but no work at Aldwych was undertaken and they were used only as sidings.[36] Funding for the second phase of the work was delayed throughout the 1970s whilst the route beyond Charing Cross was reviewed to consider options for serving anticipated development in the London Docklands area. By 1979, the cost was estimated as £325 million, a six-fold increase from the £51 million estimated in 1970.[37] A further review of alternatives for the Jubilee line was carried out in 1980, which led to the a change of priorities and the postponement of any further effort on the line.[38] When the extension was eventually constructed in the late 1990s it took a different route, south of the River Thames via Westminster, Waterloo and London Bridge to provide a rapid link to Canary Wharf, leaving the tunnels between Green Park and Aldwych redundant.[39]

In July 2005, Ove Arup & Partners produced a report, DLR Horizon 2020 Study, for the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) examining "pragmatic development schemes" to expand and improve the DLR network between 2012 and 2020. One of the proposals was an extension of the DLR from Bank to Charing Cross via City Thameslink and Aldwych. The disused Jubilee line tunnels would be enlarged to accommodate the larger DLR trains and Aldwych station would form the basis for a new station on the line, although requiring considerable reconstruction to accommodate escalators. The estimated cost in 2005 was £232 million for the infrastructure works and the scheme was described as "strongly beneficial" as it was expected to attract passengers from the London Underground's existing east-west routes and from local buses and reduce overcrowding at Bank station. The business case assessment was that the proposal offered high value, although similar values were calculated for other extension proposals from Bank. Further detailed studies were proposed.

 

Because it was a self-contained section of the London Underground which was closed at weekends and for extended periods during weekdays, Aldwych station and the branch line from Holborn were popular locations for filming scenes set on the Tube even before their closure. Since the branch's closure in 1994, its use in film productions has continued, with the station appearing as itself and, with appropriate signage, as other stations on the network.[29] The track and infrastructure are maintained in operational condition, and a train of ex-Northern line 1972 tube stock is permanently stabled on the branch. This train can be driven up and down the branch for filming. The physical connection with the Piccadilly line northbound tracks remains, but requires manual operation.[41]

Films and television productions that have been shot at Aldwych include:

The Gentle Gunman (1952)[29]

Battle of Britain (1969)[42]

Death Line (1972)[29]

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1986)[29]

The Krays (1990)[43]

Patriot Games (1994)[43]

Creep (2004)[42]

V for Vendetta (2006)[42]

The Good Shepherd (2006)[42]

Atonement (2007)[42]

28 Weeks Later (2007)[42]

The Edge of Love (2008)[42]

Mr Selfridge (2013) [44]

The pre-war operation of the station features in a pivotal scene in Geoffrey Household's novel Rogue Male, when the pursuit of the protagonist by an enemy agent sees them repeatedly using the shuttle service on the branch line. A chase through Aldwych station ends with the agent's death by electrocution on the track.[45] A much modified and expanded version of the station appears as a level in the video game Tomb Raider III.[46] The music video for The Prodigy's song "Firestarter" was filmed in the disused eastern tunnel and one of the unused lift shafts.

 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldwych_tube_station

Platform 1:I managed to get to the front of the tour to get this shot with no people in it.

 

Aldwych tube station is a closed station on the London Underground, located in the City of Westminster in central London. It was opened in 1907 with the name Strand, after the street on which it is located, and was the terminus and only station on the short Piccadilly line branch from Holborn that was a relic of the merger of two railway schemes. The station building is close to the junction of Strand and Surrey Street, near Aldwych. During its lifetime, the branch was the subject of a number of unrealised extension proposals that would have seen the tunnels through the station extended southwards, usually to Waterloo.

Served by a shuttle train for most of their life and suffering from low passenger numbers, the station and branch were considered for closure several times. A weekday peak hours-only service survived until closure in 1994, when the cost of replacing the lifts was considered too high compared to the income generated.

Disused parts of the station and the running tunnels were used during both World Wars to shelter artworks from London's public galleries and museums from bombing.

The station has long been popular as a filming location and has appeared as itself and as other London Underground stations in a number of films. In recognition of its historical significance, the station is a Grade II listed building.

 

The Great Northern and Strand Railway (GN&SR) first proposed a station in the Strand area in a private bill presented to Parliament in November 1898.[2] The station was to be the southern terminus of an underground railway line planned to run from Wood Green station (now Alexandra Palace) via Finsbury Park and King's Cross and was originally to be located at the corner of Stanhope Street and Holles Street, north of the Strand. When the two streets were scheduled for demolition as part of the London County Council's plans for the construction of Kingsway and Aldwych, the GN&SR moved the location to the junction of the two new roads.[3] Royal Assent to the bill was given and the Great Northern and Strand Railway Act 1899 was enacted on 1 August.[4]

In September 1901, the GN&SR was taken over by the Brompton and Piccadilly Circus Railway (B&PCR), which planned to build an underground line from South Kensington to Piccadilly Circus via Knightsbridge. Both were under the control of Charles Yerkes through his Metropolitan District Electric Traction Company and, in June 1902, were transferred to Yerkes' new holding company, the Underground Electric Railways Company of London (UERL).[5] Neither of the railways had carried out any construction, but the UERL obtained permission for new tunnels between Piccadilly Circus and Holborn to connect the two routes. The companies were formally merged as the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway (GNP&BR) following parliamentary approval in November 1902.[6][7][8] Prior to confirmation of the merger, the GN&SR had sought permission to extend its line southwards from the future junction of Kingsway and Aldwych, under Norfolk Street to a new interchange under the Metropolitan District Railway's station at Temple. The extension was rejected following objections from the Duke of Norfolk under whose land the last part of the proposed tunnels would have run.[9]

In 1903, the GNP&BR sought permission for a branch from Piccadilly Circus to run under Leicester Square, Strand, and Fleet Street and into the City of London. The branch would have passed and interchanged with the already approved Strand station,[10] allowing travel on the GNP&BR from Strand in three directions. The deliberations of a Royal Commission on traffic in London prevented parliamentary consideration of the proposal, which was withdrawn.[11]

In 1905, with the Royal Commission's report about to be published, the GNP&BR returned to Parliament with two bills for consideration. The first bill revived the 1903 proposal for a branch from Piccadilly Circus to the City of London, passing and interchanging with Strand station. The second proposed an extension and relocation of Strand station to the junction of Strand and Surrey Street. From there the line was to continue as a single tunnel under the River Thames to Waterloo. The first bill was again delayed and withdrawn. Of the second, only the relocation of Strand station was permitted.

 

The linking of the GN&SR and B&PCR routes meant that the section of the GN&SR south of Holborn became a branch from the main route. The UERL began constructing the main route in July 1902. Progress was rapid, so that it was largely complete by the Autumn of 1906.[13] Construction of the Holborn to Strand section was delayed while the London County Council constructed Kingsway and the tramway subway running beneath it and while the UERL decided how the junction between the main route and the branch would be arranged at Holborn.[14][note 1]

Strand station was built on the site of the Royal Strand Theatre, which had closed on 13 May 1905 and been demolished. Construction of the station began on 21 October 1905,[16] to a design by the UERL's architect Leslie Green in the UERL house style of a two-storey steel-framed building faced with red glazed terracotta blocks, with wide semi-circular windows on the upper floor.[17] The station building is L-shaped, with two façades separated by the building on the corner of Strand and Surrey Street. The Strand façade is narrow with a single semi-circular window above the entrance. The façade in Surrey Street is wider with a separate entrance and exit and a shop unit. In anticipation of a revival of the extension to Waterloo and the City route, the station was built with three circular lift shafts able to accommodate six trapezium-shaped lifts. Only one of the shafts was fitted out, with two lifts.[18] The other two shafts rose from the lower concourse to the basement of the station, but could have been extended upwards into the space of the shop unit when required. A fourth smaller-diameter shaft accommodated an emergency spiral stair.[19]

The platforms are 92 feet 6 inches (28.19 m) below street level and are 250 feet (76 m) long;[16] shorter than the GNP&BR's standard length of 350 feet (110 m).[20] As with other UERL stations, the platform walls were tiled with distinctive patterns, in this case cream and dark green. Only parts of the platform walls were decorated because it was planned to operate the branch with short trains.[16] Due to the reduced lift provision, a second route between the platforms and lifts was never brought into use and was left in an unfinished condition without tiling.

 

The GNP&BR's main route opened on 15 December 1906, but the Strand branch was not opened until 30 November 1907.[22] Initially, shuttle trains operated to Holborn from the eastern platform into the through platform at Holborn. At peak times, an additional train operated alternately in the branch's western tunnel into the bay platform at Holborn. During the first year of operation, a train for theatregoers operated late on Monday to Saturday evenings from Strand through Holborn and northbound to Finsbury Park; this was discontinued in October 1908.[16]

In March 1908, the off-peak shuttle service began to use the western platform at Strand and the through platform at Holborn, crossing between the two branch tunnels south of Holborn. Low usage led to the withdrawal of the second peak-hour shuttle and the eastern tunnel was taken out of use in 1914.[23][24] On 9 May 1915, three of the Underground stations in the area were renamed and Strand station became Aldwych.[22][note 2] Sunday services ended in April 1917 and, in August of the same year, the eastern tunnel and platform at Aldwych and the bay platform at Holborn were formally closed.[25] A German bombing campaign in September 1917 led the disused platform being used as storage for 300 pictures from the National Gallery until December 1918.

 

In October 1922, the ticket office was replaced by a facility in the lifts.[25] Passenger numbers remained low: when the station was one of a number on the network considered for closure in 1929, its annual usage was 1,069,650 and takings were £4,500.[27][note 3] The branch was again considered for closure in 1933, but remained open.[25]

Wartime efficiency measures led to the branch being closed temporarily on 22 September 1940, shortly after the start of The Blitz, and it was partly fitted out by the City of Westminster as an air-raid shelter. The tunnels between Aldwych and Holborn were used to store items from the British Museum, including the Elgin Marbles. The branch reopened on 1 July 1946, but patronage did not increase.[28] In 1958, the station was one of three that London Transport announced would be closed. Again it survived, but the service was reduced in June 1958 to run only during Monday to Friday peak hours and Saturday morning and early afternoons.[29][note 4] The Saturday service was withdrawn in June 1962.[29]

  

Shelterers inside Aldwych station during the Blitz, 1940.

 

After operating only during peak hours for more than 30 years, the closure announcement came on 4 January 1993. The original 1907 lifts required replacement at a cost of £3 million. This was not justifiable as only 450 passengers used the station each day and it was losing London Regional Transport £150,000 per year. The Secretary of State for Transport granted permission on 1 September 1994 to close the station and the branch closed on 30 September.

 

Although the Piccadilly Circus to City of London branch proposal of 1905 was never revisited after its withdrawal, the early plan to extend the branch south to Waterloo was revived a number of times during the station's life. The extension was considered in 1919 and 1948, but no progress towards constructing the link was made.[28]

In the years after the Second World War, a series of preliminary plans for relieving congestion on the London Underground had considered various east-west routes through the Aldwych area, although other priorities meant that these were never proceeded with. In March 1965, a British Rail and London Transport joint planning committee published "A Railway Plan for London" which proposed a new tube railway, the Fleet line (later renamed the Jubilee line), to join the Bakerloo line at Baker Street then run via Bond Street, Green Park, Charing Cross, Aldwych and into the City of London via Ludgate Circus, Cannon Street and Fenchurch Street before heading into south-east London. An interchange was proposed at Aldwych and a second recommendation of the report was the revival of the link from Aldwych to Waterloo.[31][32] London Transport had already sought parliamentary approval to construct tunnels from Aldwych to Waterloo in November 1964,[33] and in August 1965, parliamentary powers were granted. Detailed planning took place, although public spending cuts led to postponement of the scheme in 1967 before tenders were invited.[29]

Planning of the Fleet line continued and parliamentary approval was given in July 1969 for the first phase of the line, from Baker Street to Charing Cross.[34] Tunnelling began on the £35 million route in February 1972 and the Jubilee line opened north from Charing Cross in May 1979.[35] The tunnels of the approved section continued east of Charing Cross under Strand almost as far as Aldwych station, but no work at Aldwych was undertaken and they were used only as sidings.[36] Funding for the second phase of the work was delayed throughout the 1970s whilst the route beyond Charing Cross was reviewed to consider options for serving anticipated development in the London Docklands area. By 1979, the cost was estimated as £325 million, a six-fold increase from the £51 million estimated in 1970.[37] A further review of alternatives for the Jubilee line was carried out in 1980, which led to the a change of priorities and the postponement of any further effort on the line.[38] When the extension was eventually constructed in the late 1990s it took a different route, south of the River Thames via Westminster, Waterloo and London Bridge to provide a rapid link to Canary Wharf, leaving the tunnels between Green Park and Aldwych redundant.[39]

In July 2005, Ove Arup & Partners produced a report, DLR Horizon 2020 Study, for the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) examining "pragmatic development schemes" to expand and improve the DLR network between 2012 and 2020. One of the proposals was an extension of the DLR from Bank to Charing Cross via City Thameslink and Aldwych. The disused Jubilee line tunnels would be enlarged to accommodate the larger DLR trains and Aldwych station would form the basis for a new station on the line, although requiring considerable reconstruction to accommodate escalators. The estimated cost in 2005 was £232 million for the infrastructure works and the scheme was described as "strongly beneficial" as it was expected to attract passengers from the London Underground's existing east-west routes and from local buses and reduce overcrowding at Bank station. The business case assessment was that the proposal offered high value, although similar values were calculated for other extension proposals from Bank. Further detailed studies were proposed.

 

Because it was a self-contained section of the London Underground which was closed at weekends and for extended periods during weekdays, Aldwych station and the branch line from Holborn were popular locations for filming scenes set on the Tube even before their closure. Since the branch's closure in 1994, its use in film productions has continued, with the station appearing as itself and, with appropriate signage, as other stations on the network.[29] The track and infrastructure are maintained in operational condition, and a train of ex-Northern line 1972 tube stock is permanently stabled on the branch. This train can be driven up and down the branch for filming. The physical connection with the Piccadilly line northbound tracks remains, but requires manual operation.[41]

Films and television productions that have been shot at Aldwych include:

The Gentle Gunman (1952)[29]

Battle of Britain (1969)[42]

Death Line (1972)[29]

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1986)[29]

The Krays (1990)[43]

Patriot Games (1994)[43]

Creep (2004)[42]

V for Vendetta (2006)[42]

The Good Shepherd (2006)[42]

Atonement (2007)[42]

28 Weeks Later (2007)[42]

The Edge of Love (2008)[42]

Mr Selfridge (2013) [44]

The pre-war operation of the station features in a pivotal scene in Geoffrey Household's novel Rogue Male, when the pursuit of the protagonist by an enemy agent sees them repeatedly using the shuttle service on the branch line. A chase through Aldwych station ends with the agent's death by electrocution on the track.[45] A much modified and expanded version of the station appears as a level in the video game Tomb Raider III.[46] The music video for The Prodigy's song "Firestarter" was filmed in the disused eastern tunnel and one of the unused lift shafts.

 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldwych_tube_station

1964 was a year of considerable change in Britain, with the abolition of hanging and a new economic confidence.

 

Culturally, Britannia was ruling the waves with The Beatles, The Kinks and The Rolling Stones topping the charts.

 

Ambitious plans were agreed with the French government for a Channel Tunnel to be built by the end of the decade.

 

It was a time of great change as Britain had finally shed its post-war austerity and looked forward with a new confidence and prosperity.

 

The year was one of major upheaval in British history. National Service had been abolished in 1960 but the final troops involved on their compulsory military tour of duty were not sent home until the end of December 1963.

 

Unlike their fathers and grandfathers, teenagers in 1964 were not facing the prospect of a European war and increasing living standards allowed them a disposable income.

 

The Labour leader, Harold Wilson, entered the 1964 campaign determined to end "13 wasted years" under the Tories.

 

The populist Wilson seemed to reflect the public mood for change. The Conservative leader, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, was widely perceived as a distant, awkward aristocrat. Nevertheless, Wilson won only a tiny majority; another election seemed imminent.

 

By the time of the 1964 general election, the Conservative Party had been in power for 13 years. Since Prime Minister Harold Macmillan's election victory in 1959, Conservative fortunes had plummeted.

 

The buoyant economy that led to Macmillan's election was faltering by 1961. The following year, in a bid to restore his popularity, Macmillan sacked seven members of his cabinet in a move dubbed the "Night of the Long Knives". It was a ploy that failed. The Government ran into further problems when Britain's application to join the Common Market was rejected by the French President, Charles de Gaulle.

 

Scandal added to the Government's woes when John Profumo, the Minister for War, was forced to resign after he admitted lying to Parliament over his involvement with the call girl, Christine Keeler. The Government looked tired, embattled and increasingly out of step with the public mood.

 

In 1964, an ailing socialist broadsheet, 'The Daily Herald', was re-launched as 'The Sun' and in 1968 the owners (Reed International) put it up for sale. Of the two bidders (the other being Labour MP, Robert Maxwell), Murdoch won with a bid for £800,000. In 1967 he had already purchased the 'News of the World'.

 

The new 'Sun' re-launched in 1969 and became a spicier version of 'The Mirror'. The very first issue carried a photo of the Rolling Stones with a naked female. Sex was to be the main ingredient of the paper. Soft porn came to fill almost every page together with lurid sex stories. Within 100 days, circulation had jumped from 850,000 to 1.5 million. By 1987 the paper was making £1 million a week These profits were pumped into BSkyB and Fox, subesquently turning them into the two biggest pillars of the Murdoch empire today.

 

What's on TV?

 

The Magic Roundabout, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, My Fair Lady and The Pink Panther, Mary Poppins was there any other year in the fabulous 1960’s which produced so many entertainment trendsetters as 1964?

 

On TV for the first time, in the domestic comedy Bewitched, the nation was delighted to meet long-suffering Darrin and his

wife Samantha, the most attractive witch to ever ride a broomstick.

 

The Crossroads motel, which featured Brummie accents for the first time on TV, The Magic Roundabout opened its doors and Dougal, Zebedee and Florence delighted children and adults alike by taking us for a ride on The Magic Roundabout, one of the most successful children’s shows ever seen on TV.

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zCGjSoZzkY

 

In January, Steptoe and Son, an unlikely comedy written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson about a family rag and bone business, was declared Britain’s most popular TV show. With battling father and son wonderfully portrayed by Wilfred Bramble and Harry H.Corbett the show went on to become something of an institution. It was claimed that 26 million viewers in 9,653,000 homes had tuned in to the latest series.

 

Labour leader Harold Wilson secretly lobbied the BBC to change the time of popular comedy Steptoe and Son on the night of the 1964 election because he feared working class voters would stay at home and watch the show instead of supporting his candidates.

 

According to new archive footage held by the BBC, Mr Wilson went to the home of BBC Director General Sir Hugh Greene and told him the show could cost him 20 seats.

 

Mr Wilson was leader of the opposition and was seeking to oust the Conservative Prime Minister Alec Douglas Home. The Labour leader thought the planned repeat of the sit-com starring Harry H Corbett and Wilfrid Brambell would hit them badly.

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPDgpkf27r8

 

Much excitement was caused when a new TV channel appeared in 1964 and BBC 2 was born. Play School, the first programme to be screened, took us through the window to meet Little Ted and Big Ted, plus kids all-time favourite presenter Johnny Ball, who grew up in Kingswood, Bristol.

 

A lighter, much more transportable TV set, with an 11-inch screen and weighing only 16 lbs, appeared in the shops in August. These sets received BOTH ITV and BBC services on special “rabbits ears” aerials. If you couldn’t afford a telly, and many couldn’t 60 years ago, you could hire one for six shillings and sixpence a week.

 

UK TV Adverts from 1964 Including: Kellogg's Corn Flakes, Dual Floor Polish, Goodyear G8 Tyres, Surf Washing Powder, BSM School Of Motoring, St Bruno Pipe Tobacco, Brolac Paint, Fairy Washing Up Liquid, Body Mist Deodorant and S & H Pink Stamps.

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcKuOMVcqfI

 

Sport on TV

 

Sports fans weren’t forgotten. On the 22 August 22, they were treated to the voice of Kenneth Wolstenholme and the very first Match of the Day. A paltry 50,000 viewers tuned in to watch Liverpool beat Arsenal 3-2. But very often all the fans got were recorded highlights rather than live action. It didn’t transfer from minority channel BBC 2 to the mainstream BBC 1 until after the World Cup triumph of 1966.

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZGixE07jaU

 

1964 was, of course the year of the Tokyo Olympics. We won four gold medals. Mary Rand from Wells (who was also named BBC sports personality of the year) won the long jump, Anne Parker and Lynn Davies the 800 metres and Ken Mathews the 20km race walk.

 

Music

 

1964 was a golden year for pop music. The Rolling Stones, The Dave Clark Five, Liverpool’s The Swinging Blue Jeans, Manchester’s The Hollies and the late Dusty Springfield launched a BBC flagship Top of the Pops. Coming from its first home, a converted Manchester church.

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUFFRd27YDw

 

The Beatles had by 1964 already toured the country to unbelievably hysterical scenes and were at their peak, scoring number one hits with Can’t buy me Love, A Hard Day’s Night and I Feel Fine. In February Beatle-mania gripped the US as the Fab Four took the place by storm, capturing the first five places in the singles charts as well as the top two positions in the album listings. In July, 10,000 screaming teenage fans thronged London’s West End as Princess Margaret arrived for the Premiere of their first film A Hard Day’s Night.

 

Even before Pan Am flight 101 touched down at JFK Airport in New York it was obvious that The Beatles had already conquered the American market. In January 'I want to hold your hand' sold half a million records in less than a fortnight, and is number one in the USA at the start of February.

 

A crowd of 3,000 screaming fans waits for the arrival of the Fab Four; the LP 'Meet the Beatles' hits number one at the end of January and stays there for almost three months; before they land music stations throughout the country are playing Beatles songs more than anybody else's, and after they land some stations play almost nothing else for days.

 

Once installed in their hotel in New York, The Plaza, the band is to all intents and purposes under siege by fans eager to see them, or seemingly to rip them limb from limb given the chance.

 

The highlight of the brief trip to the USA comes on February 9 , with their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. There are 728 seats available for the show; 50,000 apply for them. The Beatles play five songs, opening with 'All my Loving' and closing with 'I Want to Hold your Hand', with much screaming to accompany every note.

 

According to TV ratings company Nielsen their appearance on the show was seen by 73 million viewers. Beatlemania had arrived with a bang.

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hlm7JyCHwcE

 

More than 300 people are injured in Liverpool when a crowd of some 150,000 people welcome The Beatles back to their home city.

 

The Beatles gain the Christmas number one for the second year running with I Feel Fine, which has topped the singles charts for the third week running. The Beatles have now had six number ones in the United Kingdom alone.

 

The Rolling Stones, founded by Cheltenham blues fanatic Brian Jones and fronted by the energetic, rubber lips, Mick Jagger, had their first top 10 hit with Not Fade Away.

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-ycN9EOi8o

 

Talented songwriters, the Davies brothers, came up with the

Kinks’ first hit, You really Got Me, and a sensational young Scots lass with a husky voice called Lulu had a smash with that Isley Brothers favourite Shout.

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2GmzyeeXnQ

 

For these young people, recently dubbed teenagers, Bob Dylan described the situation pretty accurately when he sang 'The Times They Are A-Changin', released in January 1964.

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=abGzxWuLQP8

 

For those wanting to hear more pop music than was available via the BBC (which wasn’t much until Radio One came along)

 

Radio Caroline, the first pirate ship, began broadcasting from

international waters in March. It was legal, just, but the government didn’t like it. In May, the vessel was joined by Radio Atlanta.

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8xvfBraulg

 

The United Kingdom held a national selection to choose the song that would go to the Eurovision Song Contest 1964. It was held on 7 February 1964 and presented by David Jacobs.

 

"I Love the Little Things" by Matt Monro won the national and went on to come 2nd in the contest.

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=EX-ud8sm6Hg

 

Film-goers that memorable year were not disappointed. Sean Connery’s James Bond battled it out with Goldfinger, while Ian Fleming, James Bond’s creator, died of a heart attack in August aged just 56. The big romance of the year was the March marriage of glamorous movie stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSFE_xqL5Rk

 

UK News

 

In October the Labour Party, with canny pipe- smoking Yorkshireman Harold Wilson at the helm of a national economic plan, regained power after 13 years of Tory rule.

 

1964: 'Great Train Robbers' get 300 years

 

Some of the longest sentences in British criminal history have been imposed on men involved in the so-called "Great Train Robbery".

 

Sentences totalling 307 years were passed on 12 men who stole £2.6m in used bank notes after holding up the night mail train travelling from Glasgow to London last August.

 

The judge at Buckinghamshire Assizes in Aylesbury, Mr Justice Edmund Davies, said it would be "positively evil" if he showed leniency.

 

The robbery was the biggest-ever carried out in Britain.

 

Violent disturbances between Mods and Rockers at Clacton beach

 

Gang fights have gone on in Britain for centuries; but in the mid-1960s a tribal element arrived on the scene in the form of Mods and Rockers.

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Rj-OHCusEI

 

Mods were cool: they wore Italian-style suits beneath badge-bedecked parkas; they had carefully coiffed hair; rode Lambretta and Vespa scooters; and listened to new bands like The Who and The Small Faces and ska greats like Prince Buster. Rockers were grungier: they wore leathers as befitted ton-up bikers; had long and often greasy hair; and were fans of Elvis, Buddy Holly and Gene Vincent.

 

The two tribes went to war first – at least in a large scale fight – in Clacton over Easter 1964. But the Whitsun weekend of May 18 and 19 saw things escalate hugely. There were battles in Broadstairs , Bournemouth , Hastings , Margate , Clacton again, and most notably in Brighton . Thousands from each side had gathered in theory for a seaside break that turned into turf battles: deckchairs were a weapon of convenience; flick-knives favoured by many Mods; bike-chains by Rockers.

 

As ever the poor police stood between the factions and had bottles thrown at them.

 

Middle Britain panicked into thinking civilisation was coming to an end. It didn’t; but hundreds of teenagers were fined, and some had short prison sentences for their part in the violence.

 

Moors murders: A missing persons investigation is launched in Fallowfield, Manchester, as police search for twelve-year-old Keith Bennett, who went missing on the previous evening.

 

Peter Anthony Allen, at Walton Prison in Liverpool, and Gwynne Owen Evans, at Strangeways Prison in Manchester, are hanged for the murder of John Alan West on 7 April, the last executions to take place in the British Isles.

 

On the local front, Avonmouth’s 1,500 dockers walked out on strike in January. The same month, the Lord Mayor of Bristol opened the first of five tower blocks to be built at Hartcliffe and in March Mr Marples announced the route of the M5 motorway through Gloucestershire and Somerset. In July, as the school holidays started, it was reported that there were 100 miles of traffic jams on the A38, then still the main route from the Midlands to the South-West.

 

1964 The Cost of Living

 

Television viewing

 

TV Rental for a 17 inch TV from Derwent’s of Park St. was six shillings and six pence (6s 6d) a week and for a giant 19 inch, nine shillings and seven pence. (9s 7d) At John James shops, the best deal in town, a set cost just four shillings if you rented it over three years. New TV’s were expensive in 1964. John James were offering a top 19 inch model with 625 lines for 68 guineas. Average wages at the time were anything from £10 to £15 a week. Having said that you could buy an ordinary model for a modest 29 Guineas. . '

 

Holidays

 

Package holidays had started to boom in 1964. Everybody was mad about them because it gave you the chance to fly for the first time and experience a ‘foreign’ holiday in the sun. "

 

Top Bristol travel agents Hourmont were offering 15 days away in Majorca for £41 -10s or the same time in Benidorn on the Costa Blanca for £43.00. At the cheaper end of the market LEP Travel could offer the same holiday for £29-18-0. Four days in Paris - flying from Lulsgate - would only set you back £19.00.

 

Housing

 

In 1964 you could buy a terraced Victorian house in Totterdown for £1 ,300 or an established house in leafy Westbury Park for about £5,000. Somewhere cosy in Eastville was about £2,000 and an ordinary three-bedroom semi about £3,000. But there were bargains to be had if you had money in the bank and a little foresight. An eight-room house in Clifton-wood, in need of renovation but overlooking the docks, was advertised for £800 — cash in hand only.

 

High street prices

 

A trip to a good hairdressers has always been expensive. In 1964 a perm could cost you 42 shillings, just over £2.00, while that fur trimmed coat from C&As would set you back seven guineas. '

 

Furnishing your house? You could bring home a modern Scandinavian three-piece suite forjust 32 guineas. lf, however, you were happy with an ordinary fireside chair, you’d get one from a department store for £8-10s-0d.

 

A state-of-the-art automatic washing machine, not a twin tub, cost a whopping £50.00.

 

A new baby? Horwoods in Old Market were selling top line prams for £17-19-6.

 

Transport

 

On the Roads in 1964 there were just a few sections of Motorway open but a big construction of the motorway system was underway seeing more sections opening each year.

 

Those actually open in 1964 were as follows:

 

M1 Junctions 5 to 18, M2 Junctions 2 to 5, M4 The Chiswick flyover (Junction 1) and Junctions 5 to 9, M5 Junctions 4 to 8, M6 Junctions 13 to 35, M20 Junctions 5 to 8 and the M45, M63 and M10 were complete.

 

Latest cars on the road in 1964 included the Vauxhall Viva and the Ford Anglia the Cortina also being a very popular car of the time.

 

The Forth Road Bridge was opened and in 1965 the Severn Bridge was opened.

 

If you were lucky enough to fly in 1964 you would of probably flown by BOAC ( British Overseas Airways Corporation ) or BEA (British European Airways ) and the VC 10 was the latest aeroplane.

 

Ford Anglias were all the rage in 1964. A second hand one cost £490.00. A new Mini would set you back about £448 and a popular Triumph Herald £515.

 

Announcement that American car manufacturer Chrysler is taking a substantial share in the British Rootes Group combine, which includes the Hillman, Singer and Sunbeam marques.

 

Daihatsu becomes the first Japanese car-maker to import passenger cars to the United Kingdom, launching its Compagno on the British market.

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhSXNr4_hUA

 

Beer & Fags

 

Beer was between 1/6 and 2/0 a pint; a double whisky or other spirit was rather more. Indeed, in those days spirit drinkers usually kept out of rounds and bought their own.

 

Smoking was still extremely popular in 1964, nearly 70% of men and around 40% of women smoked. The most popular brand in the UK was "Embassy Filter".

 

One old shilling (1/0) was worth 5 new pence.

 

Government figures show that the average weekly wage is £16. £10 banknotes are issued for the first time since the Second World War.

 

Teen girls' magazine Jackie first published.

 

The final edition of the left-wing Daily Herald newspaper is published. The Sun newspaper goes into circulation, replacing the Daily Herald.

 

Sport

 

Fred Trueman – ‘Fiery Fred’ – was one of England’s greatest cricketers, becoming the first English bowler to take 300 test wickets when he dismissed Australian batsman Neil Hawke in the Oval test of 1964, Colin Cowdray taking the catch at slip.

 

Typically of his career he was coming back after having been dropped for the previous match (at Old Trafford ). This was doubtless partly as he was past his very best – though a mediocre Trueman was better than many subsequent England quicks at the top of their game - partly as he rarely found favour with the gentleman amateurs who still had a major say in the sport both at Yorkshire and in the England set-up.

 

Had he perish the thought been subservient he would probably have played another dozen tests or so.

 

There was little that was conventional about Fred Trueman , except perhaps his classically smooth bowling action.

 

Through his career he regularly managed to get on the wrong side of many blazer-bedecked committee types who ran cricket “In my day” as he would have said with his favourite post-career phrase. As a summariser on Test Match Special he continued to annoy some of the playing establishment, never one to water down deserved criticism, especially of lack of effort, thought or heart – “I don’t know what’s going off” his exasperated response to such moments.

 

Trueman was indefatigable, and achieved his 300 wickets by bending his back – not like some by bending his arm.

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=aP9J5akyKTQ

 

Liverpool win the Football League First Division for the sixth time in their history.

 

West Ham United win the FA Cup for the first time in their history, beating Preston North End 3-2 at Wembley Stadium.

 

5 April 1964 - Tottenham captain Danny Blanchflower, 38, announced his retirement from playing.

 

8 April 1964 - Blackburn Rovers are announced as England's participant in the 1964 edition of the International Soccer League.

 

11 April 1964 – Scotland beat England 1–0 in the British Home Championship to leave the two level on four points in the final table. Northern Ireland subsequently defeated Wales to finish level on points with the other two, thus ensuring that the title was shared between three nations.

 

12 April 1964 – The Sunday People publishes allegations that lead to a betting scandal. It reported that Mansfield Town player Jimmy Gauld had, over several years, systematically engaged in match fixing, and that many other players were involved.

 

18 April 1964 – Liverpool beat Arsenal 5–0 at Anfield to secure the title. In their penultimate game of the season, Ipswich Town lose 3–1 to Blackburn Rovers, confirming their relegation two years after winning the League championship.

 

22 April 1964 – Leicester City win the League Cup – their first major trophy – with a 4–3 aggregate victory over Stoke City.

 

25 April 1964 – On the final day of the Second Division season, Leeds United win 2–0 at Charlton Athletic and Sunderland fail to beat Grimsby Town, meaning Leeds were crowned champions.

 

2 May 1964 – West Ham United beat Preston North End 3–2 at Wembley to win the FA Cup for the first time. Trailing 2–1 going into the final minutes of the match, West Ham scored two goals in as many minutes to the deny Preston.

 

Other News

 

All schools in Aberdeen are closed following 136 cases of typhoid being reported.

 

Terence Conran opens the first Habitat store on London's Fulham Road.

 

"Pirate" radio station Radio Sutch begins broadcasting from Shivering Sands Army Fort in the Thames Estuary.

 

Official opening of the UK's first undercover shopping centre, at the Bull Ring, Birmingham.

 

The Post Office Tower in London is completed, although it does not begin operation until October 1965.

 

Some 90% of British households now own a television, compared to around 25% in 1953 and 65% in 1959.

 

The first successful Minicomputer, Digital Equipment Corporation’s 12-bit PDP-8, is marketed.

 

Toy of the year: Mr Potato Head

 

1964 USA

 

1964 as the war in Vietnam and US Congress Authorizes war against N Vietnam more American servicemen were dying, and after three civil rights workers were murdered in Mississippi the president signed the Civil Rights act of 1964 but this did not stop the violence as it continued to increase in many American Cities.

 

Lyndon Johnson was also returned to power after a landslide victory. This was also the year The Beatles took the world and America by storm and Beatlemania went into overdrive as they released a series of number one hits including "I want to hold your hand" , "All my Loving" . Other British groups also found success including The Rolling Stones and The Animals and together with the American Talent of The Supremes and Bob Dylan many say this was one of the greatest years for music in the last century.

 

Also one young loud talented boxer by the name of Cassius Clay won the Boxing World heavyweight championship from Sonny Liston.

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3PI95z_iMo

 

1964 World Headlines

 

13 Jan - Riots in Calcutta leave more than 100 dead

 

More than 100 people have been killed following Hindu-Muslim rioting in the Indian city of Calcutta.

 

06 Feb - Green light for Channel Tunnel

 

The British and French Governments have announced their commitment to build a tunnel under the English Channel.

 

07 Feb - Beatlemania arrives in the US

 

The four members of the British hit band, the Beatles, have arrived in New York at the start of their first tour of the United States.

 

12 Feb - Deaths follow Cyprus truce breach

 

Fighting between ethnic Turks and Greeks in the disputed island of Cyprus has left at least 16 people dead.

 

25 Feb - Cassius Clay crowned world champion

 

Cassius Clay, 22, has been crowned heavyweight champion of the world after beating Sonny Liston in one of the biggest upsets in boxing's history.

 

29 Feb - Royal baby for leap year day

 

The Queen's cousin, Princess Alexandra, has given birth to a son at her home in Surrey.

 

12 Mar - Hoffa faces eight years behind bars

 

The president of the powerful American Teamsters union has been sentenced to eight years in jail on bribery charges.

 

14 Mar - Jack Ruby sentenced to death

 

Jack Ruby has been sentenced to death after being found guilty of the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin of President John F Kennedy.

 

19 Mar - 'Ambitious' plans for south east

 

Three new cities are proposed for south east England as part of the largest regional expansion plan in Britain. The 'new towns' eventually created were Milton Keynes, Havant and Basingstoke.

 

16 Apr - 'Great Train Robbers' get 300 years

 

Some of the longest sentences in British criminal history have been imposed on men involved in the so-called "Great Train Robbery".

 

14 May - Nasser and Khrushchev divert the Nile

 

President Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev have marked the first stage in the building of the Aswan High Dam.

 

27 May - Light goes out in India as Nehru dies

 

Jawaharlal Nehru, founder of modern India and its current prime minister, has died suddenly at the age of 74.

 

12 Jun - Nelson Mandela jailed for life

 

The leader of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, Nelson Mandela, has been jailed for life for sabotage

 

17 Jun - Japan trade fair floats into London

 

The first purpose-built floating trade fair has docked at Tilbury in London with 22,000 samples of Japanese goods on board.

 

02 Jul - President Johnson signs Civil Rights Bill

 

The Civil Rights Bill - one of the most important piece of legislation in American history - has become law.

 

04 Aug - Three civil rights activists found dead

 

The bodies of three civil rights workers missing for six weeks have been found buried in a partially constructed dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi.

 

10 Aug - Guns fall silent in Cyprus

 

The United Nations has brokered another ceasefire in Cyprus, defusing the growing crisis between Greek and Turkish Cypriots and heading off the threat of invasion by Turkey.

 

04 Sep - Forth Road Bridge opened

 

The Queen has officially opened Europe's longest suspension bridge linking Edinburgh to Perth across the River Forth.

 

15 Sep - The Sun newspaper is born

 

The Sun newspaper is published today for the first time.

It is replacing the Mirror Group's Daily Herald, which has been losing readers and advertising revenue for several years.

 

28 Sep - Kennedy murder was 'no conspiracy'

 

There was no conspiracy surrounding the death of President Kennedy but there were serious failures by those responsible for his protection, according to a government report.

 

12 Oct - Labour voters are 'bonkers' says Hogg

 

A senior Conservative minister has stolen the show at the Conservative news conference by branding all Labour voters "bonkers".

 

Quintin Hogg, Lord President of the Council and Secretary for Education and Science, made his quip after mounting a stinging attack on Labour's policies.

 

15 Oct - Khrushchev 'retires' as head of USSR

 

Nikita Khrushchev has unexpectedly stepped down as leader of the Soviet Union.

 

25 Oct - President Kaunda takes power in Zambia

 

Zambia has become the ninth African state to gain independence from the British crown.

 

03 Nov - Election triumph for Lyndon B Johnson

 

Lyndon Baines Johnson has been elected president of the United States defeating hard-line Republican Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona by an overwhelming majority.

 

23 Dec - Beeching to leave British Railways

 

The chairman of the British Railways Board is to part company with the organisation and return to his post at Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI).

 

31 Dec - Campbell speeds to double record

 

Donald Campbell has broken the world water speed record, becoming the first man to break the world land and water speed records in the same year.

 

100 most popular hits in the UK singles music charts in 1964

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bx1982r049g

 

01 Jim Reeves - I Love You Because

02 Jim Reeves - I Won't Forget You

03 Roy Orbison - It's Over

04 Roy Orbison - Oh Pretty Woman

05 The Beatles - A Hard Day's Night

06 Cilla Black - You're My World

07 Cilla Black - Anyone Who Had A Heart

08 The Searchers - Needles And Pins

09 The Honeycombs - Have I The Right?

10 Manfred Mann - Do Wah Diddy Diddy

11 Herman's Hermits - I'm Into Something Good

12 Dave Clark Five - Glad All Over

13 The Bachelors - Diane

14 The Rolling Stones - It's All Over Now

15 The Beatles - Can't Buy Me Love

16 Billy J Kramer & The Dakotas - Little Children

17 The Bachelors - I Believe

18 The Beatles - I Want To Hold Your Hand

19 Julie Rogers - The Wedding

20 Peter & Gordon - World Without Love

21 The Four Pennies - Juliet

22 Millie - My Boy Lollipop

23 Brian Poole & The Tremeloes - Someone, Someone

24 The Swinging Blue Jeans - Hippy Hippy Shake

25 Sandie Shaw - (There's) Always Something There To Remind Me

26 The Kinks - You Really Got Me

27 The Searchers - Don't Throw Your Love Away

28 The Supremes - Baby Love

29 Gerry & The Pacemakers - I'm The One

30 The Supremes - Where Did Our Love Go

31 Dave Clark Five - Bits And Pieces

32 The Bachelors - I Wouldn't Trade You For The World

33 The Four Seasons - Rag Doll

34 The Beatles - I Feel Fine

35 The Rolling Stones - Not Fade Away

36 The Animals - House Of The Rising Sun

37 The Hollies - Just One Look

38 Matt Monro - Walk Away

39 The Merseybeats - I Think Of You

40 The Barron Knights - Call Up The Groups

41 Petula Clark - Downtown

42 Gene Pitney - I'm Gonna Be Strong

43 Gene Pitney - Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa

44 PJ Proby - Hold Me

45 Dusty Springfield - I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself

46 Brenda Lee - As Usual

47 The Kinks - All Day And All Of The Night

48 Dusty Springfield - I Only Want To Be With You

49 The Searchers - When You Walk In The Room

50 Cliff Richard - Constantly

51 Val Doonican - Walk Tall

52 The Rolling Stones - Little Red Rooster

53 The Beatles - She Loves You

54 Mary Wells - My Guy

55 The Nashville Teens - Tobacco Road

56 The Rockin' Berries - He's In Town

57 The Shadows - Rise And Fall Of Flingel Bunt

58 Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders - Um Um Um Um Um Um

59 The Bachelors - Ramona

60 Cliff Richard - On The Beach

61 The Swinging Blue Jeans - You're No Good

62 Manfred Mann - Sha La La

63 Manfred Mann - 5-4-3-2-1

64 Dave Berry - The Crying Game

65 Doris Day - Move Over Darling

66 The Beach Boys - I Get Around

67 Louis Armstrong - Hello, Dolly!

68 Marianne Faithfull - As Tears Go By

69 Chuck Berry - No Particular Place To Go

70 Dionne Warwick - Walk On By

71 Applejacks - Tell Me When

72 Eden Kane - Boys Cry

73 The Fourmost - A Little Loving

74 Brian Poole & The Tremeloes - Candy Man

75 Gene Pitney - That Girl Belongs To Yesterday

76 The Hollies - Here I Go Again

77 Frank Ifield - Don't Blame Me

78 The Ronettes - Baby I Love You

79 Lulu & The Luvvers - Shout

80 Big Dee Irwin - Swinging On A Star

81 Gerry & The Pacemakers - Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying

82 The Hollies - We're Through

83 Jim Reeves - There's A Heartache Following Me

84 Dean Martin - Everybody Loves Somebody

85 Gigliola Cinquetti - Non Ho L'Eta Per Amarti

86 Dave Clark Five - Can't You See That She's Mine

87 The Hollies - Stay

88 Freddie & The Dreamers - I Understand

89 Cilla Black - It's For You

90 The Migil Five - Mocking Bird Hill

91 Cliff Richard - Twelfth Of Never

92 Dusty Springfield - Losing You

93 PJ Proby - Together

94 The Animals - I'm Crying

95 Elvis Presley - Kissin' Cousins

96 Peter & Gordon - Nobody I Know

97 Kathy Kirby - Let Me Go Lover

98 Henry Mancini Orchestra - How Soon?

99 The Zombies - She's Not There

100 The Mojos - Everything's Alright

 

Top Twenty TV Shows in 1964 were

 

1. Steptoe and Son (BBC)

2. Sunday Palladium (ITV)

3. Coronation Street (ITV)

4. Dick Powell Theatre (BBC)

5. Take Your Pick (ITV)

6. Royal Variety Show (BBC)

7. No Hiding Place (ITV)

8. Armchair Theatre (ITV)

9. It's Tarbuck (ITV)

10. Crane (ITV)

11. Stars and Garters (ITV)

12. Double Your Money (ITV)

13. Emergency Ward Ten (ITV)

14. Around the Beatles (ITV)

15. Frank Ifield Show (ITV)

16. The Avengers (ITV)

17. Christmas Comedy (ITV)

18. Miss World 1964 (ITV)

19. Max Bygraves (ITV)

20. Love Story (ITV)

 

That Was the Year That Was - 1965

 

www.flickr.com/photos/brizzlebornandbred/17316629146/

 

Turn of a Friendly Card

************************************************************

Based on a true adventures of a rogue active in the waning years of the 1930’s as discovered in the criminal archives of Chatwick University.

 

Act 1

I begin my tale in the present…

 

That afternoon a soiree was given as part of the purchase price of the tickets for the annual Autumn Charity Ball to be presented later that evening at the manor’s great house. Since I was alone, I just went mainly for the free food and to rub my elbows with the wealthy guests who would be in happy attendance there, and at the Ball. I was alone, but certainly not bored. There was a game I enjoyed playing to pass the time at these affairs that entailed scoping out by their dress and day jewels worn, those ladies whom would be most likely to be wearing the better costumes and sparklers that evening. It often proved to be a most beneficial insight into the actions and mannerisms of the very rich. I walked amongst the cheerful guests, eying one here ( a lady in satin and pearls) and another there( a high spirited girl with a diamond pin at the throat of her frilly silken blouse). It was as I was passing the latter that the friend she had been talking too (dressed like a vamp), bumped up against me. I caught her, steadying her as they both giggled. I didn’t mind, for the lassie’s too tight satin sheath tea dress had been an enticement to hold, and the gold bracelet that had been dangling from her gloved wrist had been a pleasure to observe. I kissed her gloved hand, rings glittering, as I apologized gallantly for my clumsiness. Her eyes were bright, almost as bright as the twin necklaces of gold that hung swaying down pleasantly from between her ample bosom. I left them, moving on to greener pastures, and it was very green, all of it….

 

It was then that I detected another pretty lassie. It was her long fiery red hair with falling wispy curls that first captured my attention. She was wearing a fetchingly smart white chiffon party dress that commanded me to acquire a closer examination. She appeared to be a blithe spirit, seemingly content with just being by herself and roaming about with casual elegance, the extensive grounds of the manor proper. I began to discreetly follow her at a distance. Although she did not wear any jewelry, her manner and the eloquent way she moved is what attracted me the most. It would be very interesting to seek her out later that evening and she what she would have chosen to decorate herself with. I followed her as she sojourned into the depths of a traditional English garden with a maze of lushly green trimmed 8 foot high hedges

 

As I strolled through the hedgerows in her wake I allowed my mind to wander its own course. Suddenly I straightened up, my reverie broken by an epiphany of sorts. I allowed myself to grin and the lady whose enchantment I was swollen up in, at that moment turned, and seeing my beaming smile assumed it was for her and gave me a rather cute nod of her head. I answered in same, as I headed en route to a nearby stone garden bench to allow my thoughts to think through themselves.

 

But before I go on, allow me the pleasure to sojourn and reminisce about an incident that occurred several years prior:

*******************

I was still working unaided in those days, travelling on to a new next quest that would take me just outside of Surrey.

I had just purchased my train ticket and had seen my luggage safe on board when I decided to rest in the lounge, it being some 45 minutes before allowed to enter personally aboard. Being so early the lounge was almost deserted, only one other occupant. I assumed she was waiting for someone on an incoming train due to the fact she carried no luggage. She was obviously well off, well dressed in satins and lace, and her jewels shone magnificently in the dim lights. Especially one of her rings, noticeably lying loosely around a finger, it sparkled with an expensive brilliance. I had seen one like it in a tiffanies store, worth almost 250 pounds. But she did not appreciate the show her jewelry was putting on under the lounge lights, for she was fast asleep.

 

I circled around her, aiming for a seat next to her, eyeing her and her possessions carefully. I noticed her purse had fallen off her lap and lay on the floor. An idea popped into my head, and I picked the purse up, and looked around carefully, before placing my plan into action. But I was thwarted as an older, matronly lady was spotted heading our way. I slipped the purse into my jacket and moved off before I was noticed. Of course she came in and took the empty seat across form the sleeping princess, and soon busied herself with knitting. As the older lady had sat down, not quietly, the wealthy lady stirred waking up at the noise. I went into a corner and sat, waiting. The two ladies soon fell into conversation; the minute’s ticked by excruciatingly slow. Soon I noticed we even had more company.

He was a lad of only fourteen, but with a devilish look about him that marked him a kindred spirit to meself, and his quick eyes were darting about taking it all in as he stood outside the paned glass window.

 

It was as the first announcement of boarding the train that I saw a chance for opportunity to strike.

The older lady folded up her knitting and clinching her bag, bid adieu to her new friend,( befuddled a little by the old ladies constant stream of gossip), and headed to the train. I was twenty steps ahead of her and was standing behind the youth as she left the lounge. I tapped him on the shoulder; he looked around at me suspiciously, and then caught sight of the shilling I was holding in front of his nose. I quickly whispered a few words into his ear on how he could earn it, and his grin spread as he bought into my story. I still held onto the shilling as he darted around and inside the lounge. I watched as he ran up behind the lady, circling her, then running in front of her he tripped over her leg, as she helped him up, her hand with the ring reaching down, he turned and spat onto the wrist and sleeve of that hand, than standing he ran away. Running alongside me, I handed him the shilling in passing as he ran off, disappearing in to the street.

 

I went inside and approached the astonished lady, as she was looking for her purse to get a handkerchief, confused as to its absence, while she held up her soiled hand( ring glittering furiously) in utter disbelief. I approached, catching her attention by the soothing words I uttered to her. I took her hand, unbelieving with her at just had happened, and I as I apologized for the youth of today I produced my own silk handkerchief and starting with her silky sleeve, began to wipe it off, continuing my tirade of displeasure and contempt at what had just occurred to the dear lady as I did so. As I finishing wiping her down, ending with her warm slender fingers, I kissed them, just as the last boarding announcement came over (perfect timing!) I let her go, explaining that I must catch my train. I turned and without looking back made the train just as it was letting off steam before chugging off.

 

I gained my private carriage just as the train began to lurch away. It wasn’t until after the train began its journey that I casually removed my silk handkerchief from my pocket and unwrapped it carefully, admiring up close the shimmering, valuable tiffany ring that was lying inside. I pocketed it, and then remembered the purse. I took it out and examined its contents: coin and notes equaling a handsome amount, a gold (gilded) case, embroidered lacy handkerchief, small silver flask of perfume, and ( of all things)a large shimmering prism , like one that would have dangled from a fancy crystal chandelier. A prism?, I questioned with interest as I examined it. It was pretty thing, about the circumference of a cricket ball, but shaped like a pendulum, it shimmered and glittered like the most precious of jewels. Why she had it in her purse? I couldn’t guess, and I saw no value in it, so I pocketed it and allowed it to leave my mind.

 

As I settled into my seat I began to think of the lad I had just met, I had been right on the money as far as his eagerness for mischief. Actually he reminded me of myself at that age, and I wondered if that lad with the shifty eyes would also turn out to follow the same course I had explored.

 

Which Begs the question, what had I turned out to become. And since I’m still reminiscing

I’ll give little background material about me, hopefully I don’t come across as being too conceited about my self-taught skills..

 

I had never been one to take the hard road, and even at a young age I was always looking for angles, or short cuts to make some money.

Once, while watching for some time a street magician and his acts. I observed a pick pocket working the crowd. He approached a pair of well-dressed ladies in shiny clothes, and standing behind them bided his time and then lifted a small pouch from one velvet purse, and a fat wallet from a silken one, then he moved on. Now both ladies were wearing shiny bracelets, one with jewels. I thought that he could have realized a greater profit if he had nicked one or both of the bracelets first, than try for the contents of their purses. The bracelets’ alone would have realized a far greater profit than what he lifted from their purses. It further occurred to me that by mimicking some of the sleight of hand tricks and misdirection that the magician was using on his audience, it could be accomplished. A hand placed on the right shoulder and as the lady turned right, whisk off the bracelet from her left wrist, and excuse oneself, that sort of thing.

 

So, I practiced (on my sisters, who proved to be willing accomplices to “my game”) and learned to pick their purses and pockets. I than moved onto their jewelry, starting by lifting bracelets and slipping away rings, before advancing to the brooches, necklaces and earrings they were wearing. After I was satisfied at my skill level, I went out and worked the streets. Sometimes using my one sister who was also hooked on what I was doing as a willing partner.

But I found myself still not being satisfied, in the back of my mind I thought there had to be a more lucrative way to turn a profit.

 

I’d found my answer when an attractive lady in a rustling satin gown zeroed in on me while I was “visiting” a ballroom. She was jeweled like a princess right up to the diamond band she wore holding up her piles of soft locks like a glimmering crown. The more she drank, the closer she got and I decided that her necklace would definitely help pay my expenses more than the contents of her purse (although I had already lifted the fat wallet from her small purse), and I did have very expensive tastes to pay for. So I took her onto the dance floor.

 

I was amazed at how easily I had been able to open the necklace’s clasp , slipping it over her satiny shoulder, lifting it off and placing it safely in my pocket with almost no effort. Then she decided to be playful once the song ended and brushed up against me. She felt the necklace in my pocket and before I could act she had her hand in and pulled it out.

 

The silly naive twit thought I was teasing her and told me that for my penance I had to go up to her suite in order to put it back on for her. I kept up the charade as best as I could.

 

And that’s where we ended up. A little bit of light fondling began as I placed the necklace back around her throat. I began to tease her, plied her with more and more alcohol as I tried to keep my distance, and virginity. Finally she passed out in a drunken stupor, but not before I had learned where she hid her valuables by suggesting she should lock her jewels up for the night..

 

With her safely unconscious, I began to strip her clean off all her jewels, reclaiming the necklace first. Then I visited all her jewelry casket and began looting it. I even took her small rhinestone clutch with the diamond clasp; of course I already had liberated its small wallet.

 

When I’d left her lying happily asleep in bed, still in her satin gown( the only item left to her that shined), I knew I had found a much more profitable line of “work”

 

So I began making circuits around to the haunts of the very rich, I still kept may hand in pickpocketing, so to speak, but centered only on those “pockets” containing mainly jewelry. I also began to carefully explore new ways of acquiring jewels” in masse”, so to speak.

 

Soon I had accumulated many tricks and tools, having them at my disposal to put into action once required, and for the remaining years up till the present had managed to live quite comfortably off of the ill-gotten gains using them allowed me to acquire.

 

Which brings me back to the train ride, my prism, and the rest of my background story before I retun to the present tale. Please be patient.

*****

So, anyway, I reached Surry without any further incident and disembarking, made my way out to the large country house where I would be staying to take a short rest, vacation if you will. But, pardon the play on words, for there is never any rest for the wicked, is there?

 

I had become acquainted with a servant of the old mansion ( almost a small castle, really) , that was about a mile off. I managed to learn a great deal, and soon found myself, on the pretense of visiting her, exploring the grounds. There was to be a grand ball taking place a couple of weekends away , and the maid had filled my ears with the riches that would be displayed by the multitude of regal ladies making an appearance. I began to think about trying to make a little bit of profit from my vacation. I am not sure how the idea developed, but the prism that I still had in my possession, came up centrally into my plans.

 

Late on the evening of the regal affair, I snuck over, covered head to toe in black, with my small satchel off tools by my side. I set up a candle behind an old stone ivy covered wall in a far corner of the rather large and intricate English garden that surrounded the inner circle around the mansion. I than strung the jewel-like prism in front of it. Standing behind the wall, I would strike the prism with a long stick I was holding whenever I observed sparkles emanating from silkily gowned ladies walking in the distance, solitary or in pairs. The prism would flash fire, sort of like a showy lure being used when fishing in a crooked trout stream. Only I was fishing for far sweeter game than trout. My objective was to trick certain types of jeweled ladies (scatterbrains some may call them) by luring them down onto the path beyond the wall, using their natural curiosity to my advantage.

 

I had at least two strikes rise up to my lure in the second hour.

On was a pretty lady in flowing green satin number, decorated with plenty of emeralds, which, hidden in the shadows, I observed were probably paste. I let her wonder about; as she looked and played with the shiny toy, remaining hidden until she grew bored and wandered off.

The second was a slender maiden wearing a long sleek black gown with long ivory silk gloves. I had never before seen a lady so decked out in jewels, literally head to toe. With the exception of the rhinestones adorning her heels, the rest of the lot was real, so valuably real that I could feel my mouth salivating at the thoughts of acquiring her riches. Now in Edwardian times only older, married ladies would be allowed the privilege of wearing a diamond Tiara. But in these modern times, it had become culturally acceptable for any well-to do lady, single or otherwise, to wear one out in society. Even so, they were still rarely worn, and seldom seen outside the safety of large gatherings. But there it was, a small, delicately slender piece of intricate art that glistened from the top of her head like some elegant beacon. That piece alone was probably worth more than I had made all the last four months combined!

I began to skirt around in the shadows, placing myself in position to cut off her retreat. Her diamonds blazed as she approached, eyeing the swinging prism with total concentration. Which was unfortunate, because as I was about to leave the shadows, she walked into the thorns of a rose bush, screeching out, and attracting the notice of a pair of gentlemen who had just crossed the path quite a ways off, called out when they heard the commotion. She started to become chatty with them, obviously coming on to her rescuers, my prism all but forgotten. Than before I knew it, in a swishing of her long gown, she was gone, “swimming” off before I was able to set me ”hook”.

 

Which I was able to do on the third strike, almost an hour later, just as I was beginning to ponder wither I should call it off and head back home..

 

They were a pair of young damsels in their young twenties. They may have been sisters, or cousins at the least. I still remember how my heart leapt into my throat as they observed my colourful prism and turned down the old flagstone path. I had not seen anyone out and about for some time, so I knew they would be no would be rescuers around to come to their aid

And, best of all, they were both dressed for the kill!

One, the blonde, was clad in a black velvet number that one could cannily describe as quite form fitting. As were the small ropes of pearls that hung from all points of interest, pretty with a matching pricelessness.

But her cousin, as I will refer to her, out shone black velvet quite literally.

This one, a stunning raven haired beauty, wore a long streaming gown of liquid ivory satin. A diamond brooch sparkled as it held up a fold of the gown to her waist. The fold allowed her to show a rather daring amount of a slender bare calf. The brooch was not paste, but a real jewel that had been added for the nights festivities ( To be successful, one learns to read these signs accurately) Her ears and neckline were home to a matching set of pure white diamonds. A wide diamond bracelet graced a bare right wrist ,so she must be left handed I instinctively thought, an observation that would have aided me if I were planning on having a go for slipping the bracelet from her wrist, but tonight I was planning a much more daring attempt to empty the entire jewel casket, so to speak.

 

They went to the prism, playing with it a bit, I had begun to circle around, when I noticed black velvet pointing out with multiple ringed fingers, to something further down the path past the wall.

 

With a clicking of heels I let the pair pass, they apparently wanted to see what was on the other side of the wall. I followed; it was not hard, because the necklace the raven haired one wore, diamonds fully encircling her throat, rippled and sparkled from their perch, caught in the full harvest moon’s cast, giving me more than enough light to shadow them quietly .

 

After a while they caught on that something/someone was following them, but as they turned they could see nothing. I was in black, and hooded, invisible to them in the shadows of the trees. They whispered amongst themselves, now worried, realizing that there were dangers lurking beyond the pale, in their case, the safety of the gardens , especially for ones decked out as they were. They then turned and headed right back from where they had come, right into my waiting arms.

 

It is interesting what good breeding does for young, poised ladies. For, as I stepped out of the shadows, a finger of my right hand to my lips, my Fairborn in my left hand, its black blade glinting wickedly in the moonlight , they did not scream out or shout for help. Instead the pair merely let out small gasps, and then they both, in a quite charming synchronized display of disbelief, place each one hand over their open mouths, and the other upon their perspective necklaces.

 

And as I flourished my wicked looking Fairbairn–Sykes blade in their direction, they unquestioningly reached around and undid those pretty necklaces, tremblingly handing them out to me, like actresses following a well-read script. I took the little pretties and after stuffing them into my satchel, held out again my free hand, my fingers beckoning. Not a word was spoken between us, as the frightened pair of young ladies began removing their shimmering jewels and added them in a neat little growing pile along my open palm. The raven haired girl even undid her brooch without me having to command her to do so. Once I had stashed it all away, I motioned for them to turn back around, than with a little helpful prodding on my part, they began moving forward back down the hill, away from the garden. The one in white hobbling a little now as she kept tripping over the hem of her dress, now no longer held up by the stolen brooch.

 

After we had traveled about 200 meters I had them stop, and take off their high heels. Then picking the pretty things up, I motioned them to turn back around and made them walk back the way we had come in their bare feet, watching the pair awkwardly hobble barefooted down the wooded path. They would be quite a while on their journey back, allowing me more than ample time to make me escape. I threw their shoes off to the side and went briskly the other way, reaching the place was staying at , gaining my room without notice. But not before I had hidden the jewels inside an old stump to retrieve them at a later date. I never really heard so much as a whisper of the incident, other than from the pretty lips of my friendly maiden. The wee hours of the morning before my early departure for the train station found me revisiting the stump and retrieving my satchel and its precious cargo. After hiding it all in a false bottom of my case I laid my head on the pillow and drifted off to sleep as I wondered what had happened to the little prism, marveling at how useful it had ended up proving to be.

 

So, how does this story (journey rather) relate to the one I had already started? Please read on, and enrich your curiosity… my dear readers.

****************************************************************************

Act 2

 

So, with apologies for my lengthy elucidation, but I now return you back to the garden party I was now attending on that warm fall day. But, as you will see, my prism story needed to be told in order to add a bit of flavor to what was about to unfold.

 

As I sat on the garden bench I formulated my plans. I should be able to acquire the main piece tonight at the Ball, I would have time this afternoon to retrieve my ever handy satchel and its array of tools and have it hidden at the spot I had already selected. It was perfect, located at the end of the path I had found, or rather the charming lady in the smart chiffon dress had found for me. A gas lamp would provide adequate light for my “lure”, and it led to a back wood where I could lead any victims away and liberate them of their valuables before making my escape. I rose, just enough time to walk my escape route, before setting up and then be dressed for the evening’s festivities. I looked around, I was alone now, my lady in white had disappeared, following her own course, whatever it may have been.

 

The Autumn Ball that evening was in full swing by the time I arrived. Being a cool fall day, most of the women were wearing long gowns and dresses, and that, for whatever the reason, usually meant they were decked out with more layers of jewelry than say , if it had been the middle of summer. In order to put my plan in action I need and intrinsic piece of the trap, a prism. The one I had once had was long ago lost, a minor pawn in a game to take a pair of princesses.

 

I knew exactly the type of prism required for my plan, and so began mingling amongst the guests with that in mind.

 

I started out by walking through to the chamber like ballroom where a full orchestra was starting to play. The first person I saw from the garden party was the little tramp who had been wearing the too tight satin tea dress. That dress had been replaced with a long silky gown, her gold jewelry replaced with emeralds; including a thin bracelet that had taken the place of the gold one that she had so obligingly dangled in my larcenous path. I decided to avoid her In principle, and in doing so spied someone quite interesting.

 

That someone was a pretty lady in a long velvet gown standing off to one side, idly watching the many dancers out on the floor. The dancing couples were forming an imagery of a rainbow coloured sea of slinky swirling gowns and with erupting fireworks of sparkling jewels, ignited by pair of immensely large chandeliers that hung over the dance floor, setting them off. I made my way, skirting the dance floor to reach her, my eyes on her jewels, which were making pretty fireworks of their own. I happened to walk up just as a waiter with a tray of drinks was passing by. Plucking off a drink I offered it to the lady with one hand, my other hand placed on her back as If to steady myself. She laughed prettily, and taking the drink I met her eyes, as she was focused on reaching and holding the glass in her slippery gloved hand, mine was on the ruby and diamond necklace. My hand behind her had flicked open the simple hook and eye clasp of the antique piece and was in the process of lifting it up and whisking it away from her throat. As I said a few words to her, I pocketed it, while also taking in the rest of her lovely figure and its shiny decorations, before biding adieu. She smiled, her pale bare neckline now quite glaringly extinguished of its fire.

 

It was about an hour later, after spotting, but unable to make inroads with several likely candidates, that I finally struck gold (figuratively). It came in the form of a young couple arguing between themselves in a far corner of the chamber. She was lecturing a rather handsome man in a tux, her jeweled fingers flying in his face. If she hadn’t been moving about in such an animated fashion as she lectured, I may not have even noticed her. But as it happened I did, especially noticeable was the sanctimonious lady’s wide jeweled bracelet that was bursting out in a rainbow of colorful flickers as her hand was emphatically waving, as her long gown of silk swished around with every movement she made. Perfect. I watched for a bit, and sure enough they moved off, the man heading for the patio leading outside, the wealthy girl following him, still giving him lashes with her tongue. I moved and managed to have her bump into me simply by stepping on the hemline of her long gown. For a few seconds I was the one on the receiving end of her wrath, but I took it like a man, I could see in the eyes of her tongue lashed husband, that he was grateful for the respite. I was also grateful; grateful for the quite wide, very shimmering, bracelet that I had removed from her wrist and now was residing in my pocket.

 

I began to leave the patio, but was stopped by a matronly lady in ruffles, laces and pearls, her breath heavy with alcohol. She started to question me on what the couple had been on about. Then without waiting for an answer she launched herself into a tirade of her own, her gem encrusted, silken gloved fingers, waving in my face for emphasis. It was almost ten minutes before I was able to make my escape. Which I did, but not before slipping off one of the lecturing ladies vulgarly large cocktail rings.

 

I headed onto the patio; the time was getting ripe for my plan, which I was now ready to put into motion, now having acquired its most essential piece. I went to the end of the large patio, weaving in and out of the by now well liquored guests whom had assembled there. Across the way I saw a lady tripping over her own gown. By the time I reached her she had fallen down, giggling merrily. Two of us rushed to her aid, she was busy gushed her thanks to the rescuer she knew, while ignoring the one she didn’t! Which was unfortunate on her part, for by ignoring me, she also was ignorant of the fact that I was busy lifting the small stands of black pearls from her wrist. I left unnoticed, much like a shadow fading out of the light, or at least that’s how it seemed. Finally I reached the patios outer edge without further incident, or gain. I went on the grass and turned a corner with the intention of going, post haste around the house to reach the gardens by the long way, hoping not to be seen by anyone. But I no sooner turned the corner, when I realized that it was not to be the case.

 

It was my blithe spirit in white chiffon from the garden party, pardon me, soiree. She was unescorted, looking up at the moon above a stone turret with one lit window, so intently that my presence had not been noticed. I had been absolutely correct in my observation of her as far as what she would be wearing for the evening. For what she had lacked in ornaments at the soiree, she had more than made up for in the evening festivities. She was absolutely gorgeous, resplendent in as beautiful a silvery satin gown that I had ever witness. It was just pouring down, shimmering along her delightful figure. Her long blazing red hair was still curling down and free, but now a pair of long chandelier earrings cascading down from her earlobes, were peeking out every now and then as they swayed with her every movement. Her blazingly rippling necklace was all diamonds, dripping down the front of her tightly satin covered bosom, twinkling iridescently like an intensively glimmering waterfall. Her slender gloved wrists were home to a pair of dangling diamond bracelets that were almost outshone by her many glistening rings. All in all she was quite a lure all too herself

 

I came up to her, starling her from her reverie. Taking up her hand, I looked into her startled, suddenly blushing face. I complimented her on the fine gown she wore. She thanked me, and I could see I that she suddenly remembered she me as the chap who she thought smiled to her in the garden. She seemed to accept my compliment quite readily. I chanced it( although Lord knows I was short on time) and asked her to a dance. I did not think she would agree, so it was with a little bit of surprise, hoping she would politely decline and walk off, leaving me free to go about my business unobserved. But she accepted, and I will admit that my heart leapt as she agreed (although in the back of my mind I knew I should be off if my plan was to work). The music had stopped so we made small talk as we slowly walked back to the ballroom. Her name was Katrina. It seems she was waiting for someone, which suited my plans, but he was late and so she had time. Which may have sounded dismissive, but from the apologetic way she said it, it was anything but the sort.

 

The orchestra started to tune back up as we entered, and taking her offered hand up, was soon lost in the elegance of my appealing partner. It was a long dance, and a formal one, but I could tell she was subtly anxious to be off on her meeting, as I was to be off to my own adventure. But Katrina did not really allow it to show, which was very uncharacteristic of her someone with her obvious breeding. So I was ready when the by the end of the music she begged her condolences and took flight. I watched her as she fluidly moved away, her jewels sparkling, all of them. On her mission to meet Mr. X I thought, for whom I was already harboring a quite jealous dislike. I should be off I thought to meself.

 

But I stood, still as stone; totally mesmerized by the way Katrina’s swirling silvery satin gown was playing out along her petite, jewel sparkling figure. It wasn’t till the last of her gown swished around a corner out of sight that I moved, but not without having to shake my head to clear the thoughts of her out of it. Well old son, focus. For by now the guests were starting to wander a bit afield in the waning hours of the Autumn Ball, and my small window of opportunity was closing fast. If my little plan was going to have any chance of success it would have to be now.

 

I walked out and made my way to one of the outside exist of the garden wall. Reaching into my pocket as I did so, fingering the bracelet, now cold, that had belonged to the quarrelsome lady,and soon would be playing another role, far from one its former mistress would ever have dreamed off. I also felt my new acquisition, still warm from my dance partner’s body. I will admit that I had felt a twinge of regret for taking it from a lady I had found to be most charmingly captivating. But slipping off the diamonds up and away from her throat had been as temptingly easy as it had been automatic. I had advantageously made use of the sleekness of her scintillatingly silky gown, and with the distractions created by the movements of the dance, successfully managed to keep Katrina’s attention safely diverted from the reality of why my fingers were ever so gently, caressingly sliding along her slippery gowns neckline. The truth was I had originally placed my hand there because it had felt so right, and I was a little startled when my fingers had subconsciously started playing with her necklaces clasp. Before I knew it, they had flicked open the gemstone clasp of her obviously expensive diamond necklace, and had lifted up. As I watched out of the corner of my eye, almost like I was a spectator, as opposed to being the perpetrator, I saw the chain move up and over her shoulder; its diamonds sparkling with is as the necklace disappeared from view behind her back.

It was a favored technique that I had perfected to the point that by this stage of my career I nearly always acquired my objective. But, as odd as it sounds, I was not happy with myself on this occasion.

 

But I did not long dwell on my mixed feelings on taking the charming lass’s diamonds, for by now I had reached my place of ambush. It was in one of the farthest reaches of the garden, at a bend on the end of a long path that, with a gas lamp at its beginning just off the patio, would allow me to see from some distance off. Behind me was a break in the hedge wide enough for a person to walk through comfortably. It was here, off a tree limb, underneath a second ornate cast iron gas lamp, which was now lit, that I hung the shimmering bracelet that I had sought out and acquired for just that reason

 

I walked around and saw that it could be seen flickered off in the distance from the woods, Perfect! Earlier I had hidden my satchel with a hood and knife and bit of rope in the hollow of an old tree. I now retrieved them, and after getting ready, found my position and waited. At 10 minutes past the first hour of my wait, with nary a single glimpse of anyone, I started to fidget. My corner may be just a bit too desolated I was beginning to admit to myself. It seemed that most of the guests were staying by the patio. I was starting to think that I should pack it in, possibly rejoining the guests for one last parting( of someone from her Jewelry). I was just reaching down to pick up my satchel when I suddenly saw something flash under the gas lamp at the beginning of the path, and my senses immediately perked up. I watched as the wisps of rich shimmery satin moved closer, I stiffened, drooling with anticipation, the game was afoot.

  

I could see clearly the flickering jewels she wore, and by their blazing sparkles of rippling fire, I knew that my long vigil would not have been in vain. As the lady drew I recognized her gown of silvery satin! I knew who was making those tantalizing flashes of appealing treasures. Katrina!

 

I watched as she approached, in all her glittering elegance. My heart and conscious was in turmoil, but I knew I probably would not get a second chance. I could not let her get away unscathed. Beside, from the shock of being confronted with a masked scoundrel wielding a wicked blade, she would be in no shape to recognize her assailant. She stopped, apprehensively looking back towards the bright lights of the Manor, Then turning back I saw she had a self-satisfied smile creeping upon her face. She reached up, and undoing her hair, shook it down, curls of softness cascading down, hanging loosely down. It was as she performed this provocative act, that I saw her eyes open wide in curiosity; she had spied my pretty little “prism”. The charming fish was hooked.

 

I waited, watching her approaching ever closer to fate, and from my concealment, I basked in her glow. My heart beating fast, my adrenaline pumping, for the remaining jewels (I thought of her necklace in my custody) that she possessed I already had witnessed were quite valuable. She passed my hiding spot and went to the hanging, shimmering object. As she reached up, looking around, she failed to see me approaching in the shadows. I came up from behind, jabbing a finger in her back as I reached her, I gruffly in no uncertain terms, snarled for her to freeze and make no sound. She stiffened under my touch, but made no move or outcry. I went around; pointing my knife in her direction, looking into her sad doe wide eyes as she realized what was going to happen next. She was trembling; from fear I guessed, and knew I had her right where I wanted. As I made my demands upon her, gimme them jewels sister, she, not surprisingly, was very compliant in giving them up to me. She reached for her necklace last, and looked entirely shocked to find her throat bare, as she searched the neckline of her gown I saw her look into my hand, now dripping with her precious jewelry, almost as if to see if she had not already removed it. She looked apologetically into my eyes, startled; almost pleading that she didn’t know what had happened to it. I just played dump. She than spoke for the first time, sir, may I ask to keep my purse? Her words would have instantly melted even the coldest chunk of ice, I looked down at the little silvery clutch hanging from her arm on its rhinestone chain, I nodded, indicating that she could, and saw relief wash over her face. I told her she now needed to turn around and walk off into the woods ahead of me. She hesitated, and I told her no harm would befall her, I had no intentions along those lines.

 

About 5 meters in I stopped her, and had her remove her shoes, as she bent over to undo the high heels rhinestone clasps I watched her gown tightly outlining her figure. She tripped on the hem of her gown, and as she attempted to keep her balance, accidently let her purse slip off her shoulder. Without thinking I reached down to pick it up for her as she tried reached for it simultaneously

 

The small purse was far heavier than it should have been. Curious I opened it, finding that it contained a rather extensive array of mismatched jewelry, glittering in unbelievably expensive fire . I looked into Katrina’s horror struck eyes dumb founded, as she looked guiltily into mine. The gig was up. The jewels belonged to the lady of the manor, my muse in silver was a thief, a female version of me very self.

 

Aye, what’s this than luv? I questioned her as she looked into my eyes, hers large with a mixture of fright and disbelief. She melted before me, fainting, I caught her in my arms, and it was no ruse. I held her as she came to, holding her warm, silky figure lovingly to mine. I did not know what to think. Nor could I ever explain what possessed me to do what I did next. As she came to, her eyes opened, and I removed my mask, looking back into them deeply.

 

Oh, she gasped, I’m glad it was you, startled that she had said the words out loud. She than started to coyly blushes, quite demurely. Something sparked in me, and unless she was an incredibly good actress, it did also for Katrina. Our eyes both looked into the others, melting away in the lust of the moment. We embraced, deeply, and I held her squirming warm slick figure tight in my enveloping arms. I looked over her shoulder, eyeing the glistening bracelet hanging from its branch. To catch a thief, the thought suddenly opened in my mind, what a great title for a novel I thought to myself, as I buried my nose into Katrina’s luxuriously soft hair.

 

We talked for a bit, walking off into the woods, then she looked into my eyes again, a coy, look that melted me on the spot, and that was the end of it, we embraced again, and wholly gave ourselves to one another. What about your man I asked suddenly remembering, my man she questioned , than oh, you mean the Lord, I was waiting for him to come down from smoking in his tower study, that’s where the lady’s jewels are kept. She broke into an Irish brogue as she said the last bit, and that I guessed was her natural tongue. she laid a hand on the side of my face, thanks for being jealous though, me lad.

I should collect my lure I said, which made her smile; it was such an enticing smile at that. We started to head back and watched as it dangled in front of us flickering. With a far off look in her green eyes, Katrina spoke as if in deep though.

 

The daughter of the house, she has a bracelet on like the one you have dangling, a bracelet of diamonds that I had taken a fancy to, wishing it had been in the safe along with the rest of the ladies of manors jewelry. I knew who she was talking about. The one in green taffeta I asked? Aye lad, that’s the one. Actually her necklace would be just as easy, and worth more I said. Just then her bright green eyes gleamed, Give me about a half an hour, she told me, we will put your little lure to use again. She noticed my hesitation, don’t worry luv she said soothingly placing a gloved hand to my cheek, no longer was it sparkly with its stolen bracelet and rings. I’ll leave my purse with you, can’t very well be carrying it around now can I? I nodded my consent, my mind burning with the thoughts she had alluringly placed there.

  

She turned, and then hesitated; turning back she said I probably should not go back in naked luv. I smiled, reaching in I pulled out her necklace and placed it around her throat. With a little gasp she blurted, so it was you, I was wondering who and when it had happened. It’s not the first time I’ve had me jewels lifted, but it’s a bloody annoyance to have to let them get away with it, crawls under my skin to have pretend not to notice so that I don’t draw any attention to me self before making my move to steal the posh ones jewels.

 

But you, mister, I never felt as much as a prickling. I was ready to assume my pretties had been a victim of a broken clasp this time. I gave a little nod in acceptance. That wasn’t exactly a compliment lad, she said in what I hopped was a subtle jest. Just last summer some clumsy bugger slipped of me earrings, my favorite pearls, as we were danc… she stopped, seeing the guilt in my eyes. Men! As thieves you are all of the same skin she spat out angrily, or attempted to sound angry, for the look in her eyes to me she wasn’t. I best be off, before I change me mind about out little endeavor.

 

With that she swirled around on her heels, and started off, but not before turning and giving me an extremely coy look of interest. As she swirled back around I heard her say loud enough for my ears, I’ll learn me self to be a picker of pockets, see how males like to be taken advantage of in their vulnerabilities! She nodded to herself as she said it. Then suddenly she stopped, than twirled on her heels, her gown swirling enticingly along her figure. Looking me dead in the eye she said, “Vie ne est pas d'attendre que la tempête , mais d'apprendre à danser sous la pluie” !

 

What does that mean? I questioned in a low voice, perplexed.

 

Maybe, Mon Cheri, someday I will tell you… And with that she turned on her heel, her gown once again swirling about, and went, determinedly, swishing her way back up the path. I just watched. I had never heard anyone speak French with an Irish Brogue and I had found it to be rather provocative!

 

I watched as she swished and swayed her way back through the hedge and regained the path leading back to the manor. Her plan was simple; she would lead the daughter of the house to my corner and as she had done, go out with her to look at the swinging charm. I would then make my appearance, rob both ladies of their finery, and telling the daughter to wait until I released her friend, walk off with Katrina as a hostage, and we would both take off and make good our escape. A simple plan, so simple it should actually work.

 

So, there I was. Holding a purse with a small fortune in jewels, my pocket full of more jewels worth an additional pretty farthing, and her charms were wearing off by her leaving. And my thieving nature coming back, reawakened from the spell they had been under!

 

The devil of my conscious crept out on my shoulder, the angel markedly absent from the other.

 

Look mate, she may not be all she seems, and possibly has some other game in mind. Maybe she does have a male confidante helping her out… and was actually on her way to fetch him. He said in my inner ear. And, after all, you took her diamonds twice, didn’t ye now? Do you really think shell forgive you of that me lad?

 

And there is no honor amongst thieves, as the saying goes, he added as a closing argument...

 

I rolled it over in my mind…I could leave, absconding with it all, book a cruise to the states or down under where there lay untried fertile grounds to ply my trade. Not to mention working over my fellow passengers aboard the cruise ship while they attended the fancy affairs that were always going on, or so the brochures always seemed to show……

 

Then In the distance I caught a wisp of Katrina’s long silvery gown. She was coming, and not only with the daughter of the manor, but also with a spare. For I could see a purple coloured gown swishing alongside with the prey in rustling green taffeta.. I watched as all three ladies, resplendent with the rippling fiery gems they all possessed, came up the path, gowns sweeping out , shimmery from the now misty distance.

 

The thought of making my escape with all the loot continued to haunt me, there was still time now to take off without notice, or I could rob all three, and leave with purple silk as my hostage, Katrina would not be able to say anything on chance of giving up her part of the game, or I could just be a good lad and sty with the script that Katrina had written. Take a chance, roll the dice and believe that she was all she had me believing she could ever be.

 

As they came closer I knew my time was running out. The thoughts of just looking out for myself kept coming up playing the devil with my conscience as the precious seconds ticked away…

 

No honor amongst thieves…

What will it be, old boy I challenged myself,

What will you have it be?........

To see what his decision ultimately was, and the eventual path it led to, see the album question answered)

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Life is not about waiting out the storm, but about learning to dance in the rain.

Vie ne est pas d'attendre que la tempête , mais d'apprendre à danser sous la pluie .

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Courtesy of Chatwick University Archives

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Turn of a Friendly Card

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Based on a true adventures of a rogue active in the waning years of the 1930’s as discovered in the criminal archives of Chatwick University.

 

Act 1

I begin my tale in the present…

 

That afternoon a soiree was given as part of the purchase price of the tickets for the annual Autumn Charity Ball to be presented later that evening at the manor’s great house. Since I was alone, I just went mainly for the free food and to rub my elbows with the wealthy guests who would be in happy attendance there, and at the Ball. I was alone, but certainly not bored. There was a game I enjoyed playing to pass the time at these affairs that entailed scoping out by their dress and day jewels worn, those ladies whom would be most likely to be wearing the better costumes and sparklers that evening. It often proved to be a most beneficial insight into the actions and mannerisms of the very rich. I walked amongst the cheerful guests, eying one here ( a lady in satin and pearls) and another there( a high spirited girl with a diamond pin at the throat of her frilly silken blouse). It was as I was passing the latter that the friend she had been talking too (dressed like a vamp), bumped up against me. I caught her, steadying her as they both giggled. I didn’t mind, for the lassie’s too tight satin sheath tea dress had been an enticement to hold, and the gold bracelet that had been dangling from her gloved wrist had been a pleasure to observe. I kissed her gloved hand, rings glittering, as I apologized gallantly for my clumsiness. Her eyes were bright, almost as bright as the twin necklaces of gold that hung swaying down pleasantly from between her ample bosom. I left them, moving on to greener pastures, and it was very green, all of it….

 

It was then that I detected another pretty lassie. It was her long fiery red hair with falling wispy curls that first captured my attention. She was wearing a fetchingly smart white chiffon party dress that commanded me to acquire a closer examination. She appeared to be a blithe spirit, seemingly content with just being by herself and roaming about with casual elegance, the extensive grounds of the manor proper. I began to discreetly follow her at a distance. Although she did not wear any jewelry, her manner and the eloquent way she moved is what attracted me the most. It would be very interesting to seek her out later that evening and she what she would have chosen to decorate herself with. I followed her as she sojourned into the depths of a traditional English garden with a maze of lushly green trimmed 8 foot high hedges

 

As I strolled through the hedgerows in her wake I allowed my mind to wander its own course. Suddenly I straightened up, my reverie broken by an epiphany of sorts. I allowed myself to grin and the lady whose enchantment I was swollen up in, at that moment turned, and seeing my beaming smile assumed it was for her and gave me a rather cute nod of her head. I answered in same, as I headed en route to a nearby stone garden bench to allow my thoughts to think through themselves.

 

But before I go on, allow me the pleasure to sojourn and reminisce about an incident that occurred several years prior:

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I was still working unaided in those days, travelling on to a new next quest that would take me just outside of Surrey.

I had just purchased my train ticket and had seen my luggage safe on board when I decided to rest in the lounge, it being some 45 minutes before allowed to enter personally aboard. Being so early the lounge was almost deserted, only one other occupant. I assumed she was waiting for someone on an incoming train due to the fact she carried no luggage. She was obviously well off, well dressed in satins and lace, and her jewels shone magnificently in the dim lights. Especially one of her rings, noticeably lying loosely around a finger, it sparkled with an expensive brilliance. I had seen one like it in a tiffanies store, worth almost 250 pounds. But she did not appreciate the show her jewelry was putting on under the lounge lights, for she was fast asleep.

 

I circled around her, aiming for a seat next to her, eyeing her and her possessions carefully. I noticed her purse had fallen off her lap and lay on the floor. An idea popped into my head, and I picked the purse up, and looked around carefully, before placing my plan into action. But I was thwarted as an older, matronly lady was spotted heading our way. I slipped the purse into my jacket and moved off before I was noticed. Of course she came in and took the empty seat across form the sleeping princess, and soon busied herself with knitting. As the older lady had sat down, not quietly, the wealthy lady stirred waking up at the noise. I went into a corner and sat, waiting. The two ladies soon fell into conversation; the minute’s ticked by excruciatingly slow. Soon I noticed we even had more company.

He was a lad of only fourteen, but with a devilish look about him that marked him a kindred spirit to meself, and his quick eyes were darting about taking it all in as he stood outside the paned glass window.

 

It was as the first announcement of boarding the train that I saw a chance for opportunity to strike.

The older lady folded up her knitting and clinching her bag, bid adieu to her new friend,( befuddled a little by the old ladies constant stream of gossip), and headed to the train. I was twenty steps ahead of her and was standing behind the youth as she left the lounge. I tapped him on the shoulder; he looked around at me suspiciously, and then caught sight of the shilling I was holding in front of his nose. I quickly whispered a few words into his ear on how he could earn it, and his grin spread as he bought into my story. I still held onto the shilling as he darted around and inside the lounge. I watched as he ran up behind the lady, circling her, then running in front of her he tripped over her leg, as she helped him up, her hand with the ring reaching down, he turned and spat onto the wrist and sleeve of that hand, than standing he ran away. Running alongside me, I handed him the shilling in passing as he ran off, disappearing in to the street.

 

I went inside and approached the astonished lady, as she was looking for her purse to get a handkerchief, confused as to its absence, while she held up her soiled hand( ring glittering furiously) in utter disbelief. I approached, catching her attention by the soothing words I uttered to her. I took her hand, unbelieving with her at just had happened, and I as I apologized for the youth of today I produced my own silk handkerchief and starting with her silky sleeve, began to wipe it off, continuing my tirade of displeasure and contempt at what had just occurred to the dear lady as I did so. As I finishing wiping her down, ending with her warm slender fingers, I kissed them, just as the last boarding announcement came over (perfect timing!) I let her go, explaining that I must catch my train. I turned and without looking back made the train just as it was letting off steam before chugging off.

 

I gained my private carriage just as the train began to lurch away. It wasn’t until after the train began its journey that I casually removed my silk handkerchief from my pocket and unwrapped it carefully, admiring up close the shimmering, valuable tiffany ring that was lying inside. I pocketed it, and then remembered the purse. I took it out and examined its contents: coin and notes equaling a handsome amount, a gold (gilded) case, embroidered lacy handkerchief, small silver flask of perfume, and ( of all things)a large shimmering prism , like one that would have dangled from a fancy crystal chandelier. A prism?, I questioned with interest as I examined it. It was pretty thing, about the circumference of a cricket ball, but shaped like a pendulum, it shimmered and glittered like the most precious of jewels. Why she had it in her purse? I couldn’t guess, and I saw no value in it, so I pocketed it and allowed it to leave my mind.

 

As I settled into my seat I began to think of the lad I had just met, I had been right on the money as far as his eagerness for mischief. Actually he reminded me of myself at that age, and I wondered if that lad with the shifty eyes would also turn out to follow the same course I had explored.

 

Which Begs the question, what had I turned out to become. And since I’m still reminiscing

I’ll give little background material about me, hopefully I don’t come across as being too conceited about my self-taught skills..

 

I had never been one to take the hard road, and even at a young age I was always looking for angles, or short cuts to make some money.

Once, while watching for some time a street magician and his acts. I observed a pick pocket working the crowd. He approached a pair of well-dressed ladies in shiny clothes, and standing behind them bided his time and then lifted a small pouch from one velvet purse, and a fat wallet from a silken one, then he moved on. Now both ladies were wearing shiny bracelets, one with jewels. I thought that he could have realized a greater profit if he had nicked one or both of the bracelets first, than try for the contents of their purses. The bracelets’ alone would have realized a far greater profit than what he lifted from their purses. It further occurred to me that by mimicking some of the sleight of hand tricks and misdirection that the magician was using on his audience, it could be accomplished. A hand placed on the right shoulder and as the lady turned right, whisk off the bracelet from her left wrist, and excuse oneself, that sort of thing.

 

So, I practiced (on my sisters, who proved to be willing accomplices to “my game”) and learned to pick their purses and pockets. I than moved onto their jewelry, starting by lifting bracelets and slipping away rings, before advancing to the brooches, necklaces and earrings they were wearing. After I was satisfied at my skill level, I went out and worked the streets. Sometimes using my one sister who was also hooked on what I was doing as a willing partner.

But I found myself still not being satisfied, in the back of my mind I thought there had to be a more lucrative way to turn a profit.

 

I’d found my answer when an attractive lady in a rustling satin gown zeroed in on me while I was “visiting” a ballroom. She was jeweled like a princess right up to the diamond band she wore holding up her piles of soft locks like a glimmering crown. The more she drank, the closer she got and I decided that her necklace would definitely help pay my expenses more than the contents of her purse (although I had already lifted the fat wallet from her small purse), and I did have very expensive tastes to pay for. So I took her onto the dance floor.

 

I was amazed at how easily I had been able to open the necklace’s clasp , slipping it over her satiny shoulder, lifting it off and placing it safely in my pocket with almost no effort. Then she decided to be playful once the song ended and brushed up against me. She felt the necklace in my pocket and before I could act she had her hand in and pulled it out.

 

The silly naive twit thought I was teasing her and told me that for my penance I had to go up to her suite in order to put it back on for her. I kept up the charade as best as I could.

 

And that’s where we ended up. A little bit of light fondling began as I placed the necklace back around her throat. I began to tease her, plied her with more and more alcohol as I tried to keep my distance, and virginity. Finally she passed out in a drunken stupor, but not before I had learned where she hid her valuables by suggesting she should lock her jewels up for the night..

 

With her safely unconscious, I began to strip her clean off all her jewels, reclaiming the necklace first. Then I visited all her jewelry casket and began looting it. I even took her small rhinestone clutch with the diamond clasp; of course I already had liberated its small wallet.

 

When I’d left her lying happily asleep in bed, still in her satin gown( the only item left to her that shined), I knew I had found a much more profitable line of “work”

 

So I began making circuits around to the haunts of the very rich, I still kept may hand in pickpocketing, so to speak, but centered only on those “pockets” containing mainly jewelry. I also began to carefully explore new ways of acquiring jewels” in masse”, so to speak.

 

Soon I had accumulated many tricks and tools, having them at my disposal to put into action once required, and for the remaining years up till the present had managed to live quite comfortably off of the ill-gotten gains using them allowed me to acquire.

 

Which brings me back to the train ride, my prism, and the rest of my background story before I retun to the present tale. Please be patient.

*****

So, anyway, I reached Surry without any further incident and disembarking, made my way out to the large country house where I would be staying to take a short rest, vacation if you will. But, pardon the play on words, for there is never any rest for the wicked, is there?

 

I had become acquainted with a servant of the old mansion ( almost a small castle, really) , that was about a mile off. I managed to learn a great deal, and soon found myself, on the pretense of visiting her, exploring the grounds. There was to be a grand ball taking place a couple of weekends away , and the maid had filled my ears with the riches that would be displayed by the multitude of regal ladies making an appearance. I began to think about trying to make a little bit of profit from my vacation. I am not sure how the idea developed, but the prism that I still had in my possession, came up centrally into my plans.

 

Late on the evening of the regal affair, I snuck over, covered head to toe in black, with my small satchel off tools by my side. I set up a candle behind an old stone ivy covered wall in a far corner of the rather large and intricate English garden that surrounded the inner circle around the mansion. I than strung the jewel-like prism in front of it. Standing behind the wall, I would strike the prism with a long stick I was holding whenever I observed sparkles emanating from silkily gowned ladies walking in the distance, solitary or in pairs. The prism would flash fire, sort of like a showy lure being used when fishing in a crooked trout stream. Only I was fishing for far sweeter game than trout. My objective was to trick certain types of jeweled ladies (scatterbrains some may call them) by luring them down onto the path beyond the wall, using their natural curiosity to my advantage.

 

I had at least two strikes rise up to my lure in the second hour.

On was a pretty lady in flowing green satin number, decorated with plenty of emeralds, which, hidden in the shadows, I observed were probably paste. I let her wonder about; as she looked and played with the shiny toy, remaining hidden until she grew bored and wandered off.

The second was a slender maiden wearing a long sleek black gown with long ivory silk gloves. I had never before seen a lady so decked out in jewels, literally head to toe. With the exception of the rhinestones adorning her heels, the rest of the lot was real, so valuably real that I could feel my mouth salivating at the thoughts of acquiring her riches. Now in Edwardian times only older, married ladies would be allowed the privilege of wearing a diamond Tiara. But in these modern times, it had become culturally acceptable for any well-to do lady, single or otherwise, to wear one out in society. Even so, they were still rarely worn, and seldom seen outside the safety of large gatherings. But there it was, a small, delicately slender piece of intricate art that glistened from the top of her head like some elegant beacon. That piece alone was probably worth more than I had made all the last four months combined!

I began to skirt around in the shadows, placing myself in position to cut off her retreat. Her diamonds blazed as she approached, eyeing the swinging prism with total concentration. Which was unfortunate, because as I was about to leave the shadows, she walked into the thorns of a rose bush, screeching out, and attracting the notice of a pair of gentlemen who had just crossed the path quite a ways off, called out when they heard the commotion. She started to become chatty with them, obviously coming on to her rescuers, my prism all but forgotten. Than before I knew it, in a swishing of her long gown, she was gone, “swimming” off before I was able to set me ”hook”.

 

Which I was able to do on the third strike, almost an hour later, just as I was beginning to ponder wither I should call it off and head back home..

 

They were a pair of young damsels in their young twenties. They may have been sisters, or cousins at the least. I still remember how my heart leapt into my throat as they observed my colourful prism and turned down the old flagstone path. I had not seen anyone out and about for some time, so I knew they would be no would be rescuers around to come to their aid

And, best of all, they were both dressed for the kill!

One, the blonde, was clad in a black velvet number that one could cannily describe as quite form fitting. As were the small ropes of pearls that hung from all points of interest, pretty with a matching pricelessness.

But her cousin, as I will refer to her, out shone black velvet quite literally.

This one, a stunning raven haired beauty, wore a long streaming gown of liquid ivory satin. A diamond brooch sparkled as it held up a fold of the gown to her waist. The fold allowed her to show a rather daring amount of a slender bare calf. The brooch was not paste, but a real jewel that had been added for the nights festivities ( To be successful, one learns to read these signs accurately) Her ears and neckline were home to a matching set of pure white diamonds. A wide diamond bracelet graced a bare right wrist ,so she must be left handed I instinctively thought, an observation that would have aided me if I were planning on having a go for slipping the bracelet from her wrist, but tonight I was planning a much more daring attempt to empty the entire jewel casket, so to speak.

 

They went to the prism, playing with it a bit, I had begun to circle around, when I noticed black velvet pointing out with multiple ringed fingers, to something further down the path past the wall.

 

With a clicking of heels I let the pair pass, they apparently wanted to see what was on the other side of the wall. I followed; it was not hard, because the necklace the raven haired one wore, diamonds fully encircling her throat, rippled and sparkled from their perch, caught in the full harvest moon’s cast, giving me more than enough light to shadow them quietly .

 

After a while they caught on that something/someone was following them, but as they turned they could see nothing. I was in black, and hooded, invisible to them in the shadows of the trees. They whispered amongst themselves, now worried, realizing that there were dangers lurking beyond the pale, in their case, the safety of the gardens , especially for ones decked out as they were. They then turned and headed right back from where they had come, right into my waiting arms.

 

It is interesting what good breeding does for young, poised ladies. For, as I stepped out of the shadows, a finger of my right hand to my lips, my Fairborn in my left hand, its black blade glinting wickedly in the moonlight , they did not scream out or shout for help. Instead the pair merely let out small gasps, and then they both, in a quite charming synchronized display of disbelief, place each one hand over their open mouths, and the other upon their perspective necklaces.

 

And as I flourished my wicked looking Fairbairn–Sykes blade in their direction, they unquestioningly reached around and undid those pretty necklaces, tremblingly handing them out to me, like actresses following a well-read script. I took the little pretties and after stuffing them into my satchel, held out again my free hand, my fingers beckoning. Not a word was spoken between us, as the frightened pair of young ladies began removing their shimmering jewels and added them in a neat little growing pile along my open palm. The raven haired girl even undid her brooch without me having to command her to do so. Once I had stashed it all away, I motioned for them to turn back around, than with a little helpful prodding on my part, they began moving forward back down the hill, away from the garden. The one in white hobbling a little now as she kept tripping over the hem of her dress, now no longer held up by the stolen brooch.

 

After we had traveled about 200 meters I had them stop, and take off their high heels. Then picking the pretty things up, I motioned them to turn back around and made them walk back the way we had come in their bare feet, watching the pair awkwardly hobble barefooted down the wooded path. They would be quite a while on their journey back, allowing me more than ample time to make me escape. I threw their shoes off to the side and went briskly the other way, reaching the place was staying at , gaining my room without notice. But not before I had hidden the jewels inside an old stump to retrieve them at a later date. I never really heard so much as a whisper of the incident, other than from the pretty lips of my friendly maiden. The wee hours of the morning before my early departure for the train station found me revisiting the stump and retrieving my satchel and its precious cargo. After hiding it all in a false bottom of my case I laid my head on the pillow and drifted off to sleep as I wondered what had happened to the little prism, marveling at how useful it had ended up proving to be.

 

So, how does this story (journey rather) relate to the one I had already started? Please read on, and enrich your curiosity… my dear readers.

****************************************************************************

Act 2

 

So, with apologies for my lengthy elucidation, but I now return you back to the garden party I was now attending on that warm fall day. But, as you will see, my prism story needed to be told in order to add a bit of flavor to what was about to unfold.

 

As I sat on the garden bench I formulated my plans. I should be able to acquire the main piece tonight at the Ball, I would have time this afternoon to retrieve my ever handy satchel and its array of tools and have it hidden at the spot I had already selected. It was perfect, located at the end of the path I had found, or rather the charming lady in the smart chiffon dress had found for me. A gas lamp would provide adequate light for my “lure”, and it led to a back wood where I could lead any victims away and liberate them of their valuables before making my escape. I rose, just enough time to walk my escape route, before setting up and then be dressed for the evening’s festivities. I looked around, I was alone now, my lady in white had disappeared, following her own course, whatever it may have been.

 

The Autumn Ball that evening was in full swing by the time I arrived. Being a cool fall day, most of the women were wearing long gowns and dresses, and that, for whatever the reason, usually meant they were decked out with more layers of jewelry than say , if it had been the middle of summer. In order to put my plan in action I need and intrinsic piece of the trap, a prism. The one I had once had was long ago lost, a minor pawn in a game to take a pair of princesses.

 

I knew exactly the type of prism required for my plan, and so began mingling amongst the guests with that in mind.

 

I started out by walking through to the chamber like ballroom where a full orchestra was starting to play. The first person I saw from the garden party was the little tramp who had been wearing the too tight satin tea dress. That dress had been replaced with a long silky gown, her gold jewelry replaced with emeralds; including a thin bracelet that had taken the place of the gold one that she had so obligingly dangled in my larcenous path. I decided to avoid her In principle, and in doing so spied someone quite interesting.

 

That someone was a pretty lady in a long velvet gown standing off to one side, idly watching the many dancers out on the floor. The dancing couples were forming an imagery of a rainbow coloured sea of slinky swirling gowns and with erupting fireworks of sparkling jewels, ignited by pair of immensely large chandeliers that hung over the dance floor, setting them off. I made my way, skirting the dance floor to reach her, my eyes on her jewels, which were making pretty fireworks of their own. I happened to walk up just as a waiter with a tray of drinks was passing by. Plucking off a drink I offered it to the lady with one hand, my other hand placed on her back as If to steady myself. She laughed prettily, and taking the drink I met her eyes, as she was focused on reaching and holding the glass in her slippery gloved hand, mine was on the ruby and diamond necklace. My hand behind her had flicked open the simple hook and eye clasp of the antique piece and was in the process of lifting it up and whisking it away from her throat. As I said a few words to her, I pocketed it, while also taking in the rest of her lovely figure and its shiny decorations, before biding adieu. She smiled, her pale bare neckline now quite glaringly extinguished of its fire.

 

It was about an hour later, after spotting, but unable to make inroads with several likely candidates, that I finally struck gold (figuratively). It came in the form of a young couple arguing between themselves in a far corner of the chamber. She was lecturing a rather handsome man in a tux, her jeweled fingers flying in his face. If she hadn’t been moving about in such an animated fashion as she lectured, I may not have even noticed her. But as it happened I did, especially noticeable was the sanctimonious lady’s wide jeweled bracelet that was bursting out in a rainbow of colorful flickers as her hand was emphatically waving, as her long gown of silk swished around with every movement she made. Perfect. I watched for a bit, and sure enough they moved off, the man heading for the patio leading outside, the wealthy girl following him, still giving him lashes with her tongue. I moved and managed to have her bump into me simply by stepping on the hemline of her long gown. For a few seconds I was the one on the receiving end of her wrath, but I took it like a man, I could see in the eyes of her tongue lashed husband, that he was grateful for the respite. I was also grateful; grateful for the quite wide, very shimmering, bracelet that I had removed from her wrist and now was residing in my pocket.

 

I began to leave the patio, but was stopped by a matronly lady in ruffles, laces and pearls, her breath heavy with alcohol. She started to question me on what the couple had been on about. Then without waiting for an answer she launched herself into a tirade of her own, her gem encrusted, silken gloved fingers, waving in my face for emphasis. It was almost ten minutes before I was able to make my escape. Which I did, but not before slipping off one of the lecturing ladies vulgarly large cocktail rings.

 

I headed onto the patio; the time was getting ripe for my plan, which I was now ready to put into motion, now having acquired its most essential piece. I went to the end of the large patio, weaving in and out of the by now well liquored guests whom had assembled there. Across the way I saw a lady tripping over her own gown. By the time I reached her she had fallen down, giggling merrily. Two of us rushed to her aid, she was busy gushed her thanks to the rescuer she knew, while ignoring the one she didn’t! Which was unfortunate on her part, for by ignoring me, she also was ignorant of the fact that I was busy lifting the small stands of black pearls from her wrist. I left unnoticed, much like a shadow fading out of the light, or at least that’s how it seemed. Finally I reached the patios outer edge without further incident, or gain. I went on the grass and turned a corner with the intention of going, post haste around the house to reach the gardens by the long way, hoping not to be seen by anyone. But I no sooner turned the corner, when I realized that it was not to be the case.

 

It was my blithe spirit in white chiffon from the garden party, pardon me, soiree. She was unescorted, looking up at the moon above a stone turret with one lit window, so intently that my presence had not been noticed. I had been absolutely correct in my observation of her as far as what she would be wearing for the evening. For what she had lacked in ornaments at the soiree, she had more than made up for in the evening festivities. She was absolutely gorgeous, resplendent in as beautiful a silvery satin gown that I had ever witness. It was just pouring down, shimmering along her delightful figure. Her long blazing red hair was still curling down and free, but now a pair of long chandelier earrings cascading down from her earlobes, were peeking out every now and then as they swayed with her every movement. Her blazingly rippling necklace was all diamonds, dripping down the front of her tightly satin covered bosom, twinkling iridescently like an intensively glimmering waterfall. Her slender gloved wrists were home to a pair of dangling diamond bracelets that were almost outshone by her many glistening rings. All in all she was quite a lure all too herself

 

I came up to her, starling her from her reverie. Taking up her hand, I looked into her startled, suddenly blushing face. I complimented her on the fine gown she wore. She thanked me, and I could see I that she suddenly remembered she me as the chap who she thought smiled to her in the garden. She seemed to accept my compliment quite readily. I chanced it( although Lord knows I was short on time) and asked her to a dance. I did not think she would agree, so it was with a little bit of surprise, hoping she would politely decline and walk off, leaving me free to go about my business unobserved. But she accepted, and I will admit that my heart leapt as she agreed (although in the back of my mind I knew I should be off if my plan was to work). The music had stopped so we made small talk as we slowly walked back to the ballroom. Her name was Katrina. It seems she was waiting for someone, which suited my plans, but he was late and so she had time. Which may have sounded dismissive, but from the apologetic way she said it, it was anything but the sort.

 

The orchestra started to tune back up as we entered, and taking her offered hand up, was soon lost in the elegance of my appealing partner. It was a long dance, and a formal one, but I could tell she was subtly anxious to be off on her meeting, as I was to be off to my own adventure. But Katrina did not really allow it to show, which was very uncharacteristic of her someone with her obvious breeding. So I was ready when the by the end of the music she begged her condolences and took flight. I watched her as she fluidly moved away, her jewels sparkling, all of them. On her mission to meet Mr. X I thought, for whom I was already harboring a quite jealous dislike. I should be off I thought to meself.

 

But I stood, still as stone; totally mesmerized by the way Katrina’s swirling silvery satin gown was playing out along her petite, jewel sparkling figure. It wasn’t till the last of her gown swished around a corner out of sight that I moved, but not without having to shake my head to clear the thoughts of her out of it. Well old son, focus. For by now the guests were starting to wander a bit afield in the waning hours of the Autumn Ball, and my small window of opportunity was closing fast. If my little plan was going to have any chance of success it would have to be now.

 

I walked out and made my way to one of the outside exist of the garden wall. Reaching into my pocket as I did so, fingering the bracelet, now cold, that had belonged to the quarrelsome lady,and soon would be playing another role, far from one its former mistress would ever have dreamed off. I also felt my new acquisition, still warm from my dance partner’s body. I will admit that I had felt a twinge of regret for taking it from a lady I had found to be most charmingly captivating. But slipping off the diamonds up and away from her throat had been as temptingly easy as it had been automatic. I had advantageously made use of the sleekness of her scintillatingly silky gown, and with the distractions created by the movements of the dance, successfully managed to keep Katrina’s attention safely diverted from the reality of why my fingers were ever so gently, caressingly sliding along her slippery gowns neckline. The truth was I had originally placed my hand there because it had felt so right, and I was a little startled when my fingers had subconsciously started playing with her necklaces clasp. Before I knew it, they had flicked open the gemstone clasp of her obviously expensive diamond necklace, and had lifted up. As I watched out of the corner of my eye, almost like I was a spectator, as opposed to being the perpetrator, I saw the chain move up and over her shoulder; its diamonds sparkling with is as the necklace disappeared from view behind her back.

It was a favored technique that I had perfected to the point that by this stage of my career I nearly always acquired my objective. But, as odd as it sounds, I was not happy with myself on this occasion.

 

But I did not long dwell on my mixed feelings on taking the charming lass’s diamonds, for by now I had reached my place of ambush. It was in one of the farthest reaches of the garden, at a bend on the end of a long path that, with a gas lamp at its beginning just off the patio, would allow me to see from some distance off. Behind me was a break in the hedge wide enough for a person to walk through comfortably. It was here, off a tree limb, underneath a second ornate cast iron gas lamp, which was now lit, that I hung the shimmering bracelet that I had sought out and acquired for just that reason

 

I walked around and saw that it could be seen flickered off in the distance from the woods, Perfect! Earlier I had hidden my satchel with a hood and knife and bit of rope in the hollow of an old tree. I now retrieved them, and after getting ready, found my position and waited. At 10 minutes past the first hour of my wait, with nary a single glimpse of anyone, I started to fidget. My corner may be just a bit too desolated I was beginning to admit to myself. It seemed that most of the guests were staying by the patio. I was starting to think that I should pack it in, possibly rejoining the guests for one last parting( of someone from her Jewelry). I was just reaching down to pick up my satchel when I suddenly saw something flash under the gas lamp at the beginning of the path, and my senses immediately perked up. I watched as the wisps of rich shimmery satin moved closer, I stiffened, drooling with anticipation, the game was afoot.

  

I could see clearly the flickering jewels she wore, and by their blazing sparkles of rippling fire, I knew that my long vigil would not have been in vain. As the lady drew I recognized her gown of silvery satin! I knew who was making those tantalizing flashes of appealing treasures. Katrina!

 

I watched as she approached, in all her glittering elegance. My heart and conscious was in turmoil, but I knew I probably would not get a second chance. I could not let her get away unscathed. Beside, from the shock of being confronted with a masked scoundrel wielding a wicked blade, she would be in no shape to recognize her assailant. She stopped, apprehensively looking back towards the bright lights of the Manor, Then turning back I saw she had a self-satisfied smile creeping upon her face. She reached up, and undoing her hair, shook it down, curls of softness cascading down, hanging loosely down. It was as she performed this provocative act, that I saw her eyes open wide in curiosity; she had spied my pretty little “prism”. The charming fish was hooked.

 

I waited, watching her approaching ever closer to fate, and from my concealment, I basked in her glow. My heart beating fast, my adrenaline pumping, for the remaining jewels (I thought of her necklace in my custody) that she possessed I already had witnessed were quite valuable. She passed my hiding spot and went to the hanging, shimmering object. As she reached up, looking around, she failed to see me approaching in the shadows. I came up from behind, jabbing a finger in her back as I reached her, I gruffly in no uncertain terms, snarled for her to freeze and make no sound. She stiffened under my touch, but made no move or outcry. I went around; pointing my knife in her direction, looking into her sad doe wide eyes as she realized what was going to happen next. She was trembling; from fear I guessed, and knew I had her right where I wanted. As I made my demands upon her, gimme them jewels sister, she, not surprisingly, was very compliant in giving them up to me. She reached for her necklace last, and looked entirely shocked to find her throat bare, as she searched the neckline of her gown I saw her look into my hand, now dripping with her precious jewelry, almost as if to see if she had not already removed it. She looked apologetically into my eyes, startled; almost pleading that she didn’t know what had happened to it. I just played dump. She than spoke for the first time, sir, may I ask to keep my purse? Her words would have instantly melted even the coldest chunk of ice, I looked down at the little silvery clutch hanging from her arm on its rhinestone chain, I nodded, indicating that she could, and saw relief wash over her face. I told her she now needed to turn around and walk off into the woods ahead of me. She hesitated, and I told her no harm would befall her, I had no intentions along those lines.

 

About 5 meters in I stopped her, and had her remove her shoes, as she bent over to undo the high heels rhinestone clasps I watched her gown tightly outlining her figure. She tripped on the hem of her gown, and as she attempted to keep her balance, accidently let her purse slip off her shoulder. Without thinking I reached down to pick it up for her as she tried reached for it simultaneously

 

The small purse was far heavier than it should have been. Curious I opened it, finding that it contained a rather extensive array of mismatched jewelry, glittering in unbelievably expensive fire . I looked into Katrina’s horror struck eyes dumb founded, as she looked guiltily into mine. The gig was up. The jewels belonged to the lady of the manor, my muse in silver was a thief, a female version of me very self.

 

Aye, what’s this than luv? I questioned her as she looked into my eyes, hers large with a mixture of fright and disbelief. She melted before me, fainting, I caught her in my arms, and it was no ruse. I held her as she came to, holding her warm, silky figure lovingly to mine. I did not know what to think. Nor could I ever explain what possessed me to do what I did next. As she came to, her eyes opened, and I removed my mask, looking back into them deeply.

 

Oh, she gasped, I’m glad it was you, startled that she had said the words out loud. She than started to coyly blushes, quite demurely. Something sparked in me, and unless she was an incredibly good actress, it did also for Katrina. Our eyes both looked into the others, melting away in the lust of the moment. We embraced, deeply, and I held her squirming warm slick figure tight in my enveloping arms. I looked over her shoulder, eyeing the glistening bracelet hanging from its branch. To catch a thief, the thought suddenly opened in my mind, what a great title for a novel I thought to myself, as I buried my nose into Katrina’s luxuriously soft hair.

 

We talked for a bit, walking off into the woods, then she looked into my eyes again, a coy, look that melted me on the spot, and that was the end of it, we embraced again, and wholly gave ourselves to one another. What about your man I asked suddenly remembering, my man she questioned , than oh, you mean the Lord, I was waiting for him to come down from smoking in his tower study, that’s where the lady’s jewels are kept. She broke into an Irish brogue as she said the last bit, and that I guessed was her natural tongue. she laid a hand on the side of my face, thanks for being jealous though, me lad.

I should collect my lure I said, which made her smile; it was such an enticing smile at that. We started to head back and watched as it dangled in front of us flickering. With a far off look in her green eyes, Katrina spoke as if in deep though.

 

The daughter of the house, she has a bracelet on like the one you have dangling, a bracelet of diamonds that I had taken a fancy to, wishing it had been in the safe along with the rest of the ladies of manors jewelry. I knew who she was talking about. The one in green taffeta I asked? Aye lad, that’s the one. Actually her necklace would be just as easy, and worth more I said. Just then her bright green eyes gleamed, Give me about a half an hour, she told me, we will put your little lure to use again. She noticed my hesitation, don’t worry luv she said soothingly placing a gloved hand to my cheek, no longer was it sparkly with its stolen bracelet and rings. I’ll leave my purse with you, can’t very well be carrying it around now can I? I nodded my consent, my mind burning with the thoughts she had alluringly placed there.

  

She turned, and then hesitated; turning back she said I probably should not go back in naked luv. I smiled, reaching in I pulled out her necklace and placed it around her throat. With a little gasp she blurted, so it was you, I was wondering who and when it had happened. It’s not the first time I’ve had me jewels lifted, but it’s a bloody annoyance to have to let them get away with it, crawls under my skin to have pretend not to notice so that I don’t draw any attention to me self before making my move to steal the posh ones jewels.

 

But you, mister, I never felt as much as a prickling. I was ready to assume my pretties had been a victim of a broken clasp this time. I gave a little nod in acceptance. That wasn’t exactly a compliment lad, she said in what I hopped was a subtle jest. Just last summer some clumsy bugger slipped of me earrings, my favorite pearls, as we were danc… she stopped, seeing the guilt in my eyes. Men! As thieves you are all of the same skin she spat out angrily, or attempted to sound angry, for the look in her eyes to me she wasn’t. I best be off, before I change me mind about out little endeavor.

 

With that she swirled around on her heels, and started off, but not before turning and giving me an extremely coy look of interest. As she swirled back around I heard her say loud enough for my ears, I’ll learn me self to be a picker of pockets, see how males like to be taken advantage of in their vulnerabilities! She nodded to herself as she said it. Then suddenly she stopped, than twirled on her heels, her gown swirling enticingly along her figure. Looking me dead in the eye she said, “Vie ne est pas d'attendre que la tempête , mais d'apprendre à danser sous la pluie” !

 

What does that mean? I questioned in a low voice, perplexed.

 

Maybe, Mon Cheri, someday I will tell you… And with that she turned on her heel, her gown once again swirling about, and went, determinedly, swishing her way back up the path. I just watched. I had never heard anyone speak French with an Irish Brogue and I had found it to be rather provocative!

 

I watched as she swished and swayed her way back through the hedge and regained the path leading back to the manor. Her plan was simple; she would lead the daughter of the house to my corner and as she had done, go out with her to look at the swinging charm. I would then make my appearance, rob both ladies of their finery, and telling the daughter to wait until I released her friend, walk off with Katrina as a hostage, and we would both take off and make good our escape. A simple plan, so simple it should actually work.

 

So, there I was. Holding a purse with a small fortune in jewels, my pocket full of more jewels worth an additional pretty farthing, and her charms were wearing off by her leaving. And my thieving nature coming back, reawakened from the spell they had been under!

 

The devil of my conscious crept out on my shoulder, the angel markedly absent from the other.

 

Look mate, she may not be all she seems, and possibly has some other game in mind. Maybe she does have a male confidante helping her out… and was actually on her way to fetch him. He said in my inner ear. And, after all, you took her diamonds twice, didn’t ye now? Do you really think shell forgive you of that me lad?

 

And there is no honor amongst thieves, as the saying goes, he added as a closing argument...

 

I rolled it over in my mind…I could leave, absconding with it all, book a cruise to the states or down under where there lay untried fertile grounds to ply my trade. Not to mention working over my fellow passengers aboard the cruise ship while they attended the fancy affairs that were always going on, or so the brochures always seemed to show……

 

Then In the distance I caught a wisp of Katrina’s long silvery gown. She was coming, and not only with the daughter of the manor, but also with a spare. For I could see a purple coloured gown swishing alongside with the prey in rustling green taffeta.. I watched as all three ladies, resplendent with the rippling fiery gems they all possessed, came up the path, gowns sweeping out , shimmery from the now misty distance.

 

The thought of making my escape with all the loot continued to haunt me, there was still time now to take off without notice, or I could rob all three, and leave with purple silk as my hostage, Katrina would not be able to say anything on chance of giving up her part of the game, or I could just be a good lad and sty with the script that Katrina had written. Take a chance, roll the dice and believe that she was all she had me believing she could ever be.

 

As they came closer I knew my time was running out. The thoughts of just looking out for myself kept coming up playing the devil with my conscience as the precious seconds ticked away…

 

No honor amongst thieves…

What will it be, old boy I challenged myself,

What will you have it be?........

To see what his decision ultimately was, and the eventual path it led to, see the album question answered)

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Life is not about waiting out the storm, but about learning to dance in the rain.

Vie ne est pas d'attendre que la tempête , mais d'apprendre à danser sous la pluie .

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The Avengers is a spy-fi British television series created in the 1960s. The Avengers initially focused on Dr. David Keel (Ian Hendry) and his assistant John Steed (Patrick Macnee). Hendry left after the first series and Steed became the main character, partnered with a succession of assistants. Steed's most famous assistants were intelligent, stylish and assertive women: Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman), Emma Peel (Diana Rigg), and later Tara King (Linda Thorson). Later episodes increasingly incorporated elements of science fiction and fantasy, parody and British eccentricity. The Avengers ran from 1961 until 1969, screening as one hour episodes its entire run.

 

The pilot episode, "Hot Snow", aired on 7 January 1961.

The final episode, "Bizarre", aired on 21 May 1969.

 

The Avengers was produced by ABC Television, a contractor within the ITV network. After a merger in July 1968 ABC Television became Thames Television, which continued production of the series although it was still broadcast under the ABC name. By 1969 The Avengers was shown in more than 90 countries. ITV produced a sequel series The New Avengers (1976–1977) with Patrick Macnee returning as John Steed, and two new partners.

 

In 2007 The Avengers was ranked #20 on TV Guide's Top Cult Shows Ever

 

1961: With Dr David Keel (Ian Hendry)

 

The Avengers began in the episode Hot Snow, with medical doctor, Dr David Keel (Ian Hendry), investigating the murder of his fiancée and office receptionist Peggy by a drug ring. A stranger named John Steed, who was investigating the ring, appeared and together they set out to avenge her death in the first two episodes. Afterwards, Steed asked Keel to partner him as needed to solve crimes.

 

The Avengers followed Hendry's Police Surgeon, in which he played police surgeon Geoffrey Brent.[3] While Police Surgeon did not last long, viewers praised Hendry. Hendry was considered the star of the new series, receiving top billing over Macnee, and Steed did not appear in two episodes.

 

As the series progressed, Steed's importance increased, and he carried the final episode solo. While Steed and Keel used wit while discussing crimes and dangers, the series also depicted the interplay—and often tension—between Keel's idealism and Steed's professionalism. As seen in one of the two surviving episodes from the first series, "The Frighteners", Steed also had helpers among the population who provided information, similar to the "Baker Street Irregulars" of Sherlock Holmes.

 

The other regular in the first series was Carol Wilson (Ingrid Hafner), the nurse and receptionist who replaced the slain Peggy. Carol assisted Keel and Steed in cases, without being part of Steed's inner circle. Hafner had played opposite Hendry as a nurse in Police Surgeon.[3]

 

The series was shot on 405-line videotape using a multicamera setup. There was little provision for editing and virtually no location footage (although the very first shot of the first episode consisted of location footage). As was standard practice at the time, videotapes of early episodes of The Avengers were reused. Of the first series, two complete episodes still exist, as 16 mm film telerecordings. One of the episodes remaining does not feature Steed. The first 15 minutes of the first episode also exists as a telerecording; the extant footage ends at the conclusion of the first act, prior to the introduction of John Steed.

 

The missing television episodes are currently being re-created for audio by Big Finish Productions under the title of The Avengers - The Lost Episodes[4] and star Julian Wadham as Steed, Anthony Howell as Dr. Keel and Lucy Briggs-Owen as Carol Wilson.

 

1962–64: With Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman), Venus Smith (Julie Stevens) and Dr Martin King (Jon Rollason)

  

Patrick Macnee as John Steed and Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale

Production of the first series was cut short by a strike. By the time production could begin on the second series, Hendry had quit to pursue a film career. Macnee was promoted to star and Steed became the focus of the series, initially working with a rotation of three different partners. Dr Martin King (Jon Rollason), a thinly disguised rewriting of Keel, saw action in only three episodes produced from scripts written for the first series. King was intended to be a transitional character between Keel and Steed's two new female partners, but while the Dr. King episodes were shot first, they were shown out of production order in the middle of the season. The character was thereafter quickly and quietly dropped.

 

Nightclub singer Venus Smith (Julie Stevens) appeared in six episodes. She was a complete "amateur", meaning that she did not have any professional crime-fighting skills as did the two doctors. She was excited to be participating in a "spy" adventure alongside secret agent Steed (although at least one episode—"The Removal Men"—indicates she is not always enthusiastic). Nonetheless, she appears to be attracted to him and their relationship appears similar to that later displayed between Steed and Tara King. Her episodes featured musical interludes showcasing her singing performances. The character of Venus underwent some revision during her run, adopting more youthful demeanour and dress.

 

The first episode broadcast in the second series had introduced the partner who would change the show into the format for which it is most remembered. Honor Blackman played Dr Cathy Gale, a self-assured, quick-witted anthropologist who was skilled in judo and had a passion for wearing leather clothes.[5] Widowed during the Mau Mau years in Kenya, she was the "talented amateur" who saw her aid to Steed's cases as a service to her nation. Gale was said to have been born 5 October 1930 at midnight, and was raised in Africa. Gale was early-to-mid 30s during her tenure, in contrast to female characters in similar series who tended to be younger.

 

Gale was unlike any female character seen before on British TV and became a household name. Reportedly, part of her charm came from the fact that her earliest appearances were episodes in which dialogue written for Keel was simply transferred to her. Said series script writer Dennis Spooner "there's the famous story of how Honor Blackman played Ian Hendry's part, which is why they stuck her in leather and such—it was so much cheaper than changing the lines!"[6]

 

Venus Smith did not return for the third series and Cathy Gale became Steed's only regular partner. The series established a level of sexual tension between Steed and Gale, but the writers were not allowed to go beyond flirting and innuendo. Despite this the relationship between Steed and Gale was progressive for 1962–63. In "The Golden Eggs" it is revealed that Gale lived in Steed's flat; her rent according to Steed was to keep the refrigerator well-stocked and to cook for him (she appears to do neither). However, this was said to be a temporary arrangement while Gale looked for a new home, and Steed was sleeping at a hotel.

 

During the first series there were hints Steed worked for a branch of British Intelligence, and this was expanded in the second series. Steed initially received orders from different superiors, including someone referred to as "Charles", and "One-Ten" (Douglas Muir). By the third series the delivery of Steed's orders was not depicted on screen or explained. In "The Nutshell" the secret organisation to which Steed belongs is shown, and it is Gale's first visit to their HQ.

 

Small references to Steed's background were occasionally made. In series three's "Death of a Batman" it was said that Steed was with I Corps in World War II, and in Munich in 1945. In series four episode "The Hour That Never Was" Steed goes to a reunion of his RAF regiment.

 

A film version of the series was in its initial planning stages by late 1963 after series three was completed. An early story proposal paired Steed and Gale with a male and female duo of American agents, to make the movie appeal to the American market. Before the project could gain momentum Blackman was cast opposite Sean Connery in Goldfinger, requiring her to leave the series.

 

Series transformation

 

During the Gale era, Steed was transformed from a rugged trenchcoat-wearing agent into the stereotypical English gentleman (he had first donned bowler and carried his distinctive umbrella part way through the first season as 'The Frighteners' depicts), complete with Savile Row suit, bowler hat and umbrella with clothes later designed by Pierre Cardin. (The bowler and umbrella were soon changed to be full of tricks, including a sword hidden within the umbrella handle and a steel plate concealed in the hat.) These items were referred to in the French, German and Polish titles of the series, Chapeau melon et bottes de cuir ("Bowler hat and leather boots"), Mit Schirm, Charme und Melone ("With Umbrella, Charm and Bowler Hat") and Rewolwer i melonik ("A Revolver and a Bowler Hat"), respectively. With his impeccable manners, old world sophistication, and vintage automobiles, Steed came to represent the traditional Englishman of an earlier era.

 

By contrast his partners were youthful, forward-looking, and always dressed in the latest mod fashions. Gale's innovative leather outfits suited her many athletic fight scenes. Honor Blackman became a star in Britain with her black leather outfits and boots (nicknamed "kinky boots") and her judo-based fighting style. Macnee and Blackman even released a novelty song called "Kinky Boots". Some of the clothes seen in The Avengers were designed at the studio of John Sutcliffe who published the AtomAge fetish magazine.

 

Series script writer Dennis Spooner said that the series would frequently feature Steed visiting busy public places such as the main airport in London, without anyone else present in the scene. "'Can't you afford extras?' they'd ask. Well it wasn't like that; it's just that Steed had to be alone to be accepted. Put him in a crowd and he sticks out like a sore thumb! Let's face it, with normal people he's weird. The trick to making him acceptable is never to show him in a normal world, just fighting villains who are odder than he is!"[6]

 

1965–68: With Emma Peel (Diana Rigg)

 

In 1965 the show was sold to United States network, the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). The Avengers became one of the first British series to be aired on prime time U.S. television. The ABC network paid the then-unheard of sum of $2 million for the first 26 episodes. The average budget for each episode was reportedly £56,000, high for the British industry. The fourth series aired in the U.S. from March to December 1966.

 

Previously The Avengers had been shot on 405-line videotape using a multicamera setup, with very little provision for editing and virtually no location footage. The U.S. deal meant that the producers could afford to start shooting the series on 35mm film. The use of film rather than videotape was essential, as British 405-line video was technically incompatible with the U.S. NTSC videotape format. Filmed productions were standard on U.S. prime time television at that time. The Avengers continued to be produced in black and white.

 

The transfer to film meant that episodes would be shot using the single camera setup, giving the production greater flexibility. The use of film production and the single camera production style allowed more sophisticated visuals and camera angles and more outdoor location shots, all of which greatly improved the look of the series. As was standard on British television filmed production through the 1960s, all location work on series four was shot mute with the soundtrack created in post production. Dialogue scenes were filmed in the studio, leading to some jumps between location and studio footage.

     

Diana Rigg as Mrs Emma Peel

New female partner Mrs Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) debuted in this series, in October 1965. The name of the character derived from a comment by writers, during development, that they wanted a character with "man appeal". In an early attempt to incorporate this concept into the character's name, she was called "Samantha Peel", shortened to the awkward "Mantha Peel".[7] Eventually the writers began referring to the idea by the verbal shorthand, "M. Appeal",[8] which gave rise to the character's ultimate name. Emma Peel, whose husband went missing while flying over the Amazon, retained the self-assuredness of Gale, combined with superior fighting skills, intelligence, and a contemporary fashion sense.

 

After more than 60 actresses had been auditioned, the first choice to play the role was Elizabeth Shepherd. However, after filming one and a half episodes (the pilot; 'The Town of No Return' and part of 'The Murder Market'), Shepherd was released. Her on-screen personality was deemed less interesting than that of Blackman's Gale and it was decided she was not right for the role. Another 20 actresses were auditioned before the show's casting director suggested that producers Brian Clemens and Albert Fennell check out a televised drama featuring the relatively unknown Rigg (she had earlier guested in an episode of the TV show; 'The Sentimental Agent' that Clemens had written). Her screen test with Macnee showed that the two immediately worked well together, and a new era in Avengers history began.

 

A prologue was added to the beginning of all the fourth series episodes for the American transmissions. This was to clarify some initial confusion audiences had regarding the characters and their mission. In the opener, a waiter holding a champagne bottle falls dead onto a human-sized chessboard; a dagger protruding from a target on his back. Steed and Mrs. Peel (dressed in her trademark leather catsuit) walk up to the body as the voice over explains: "Extraordinary crimes against the people, and the state, have to be avenged by agents extraordinary. Two such people are John Steed, top professional, and his partner Emma Peel, talented amateur. Otherwise known as The Avengers." During this voice over, Steed pours two drinks from the wine bottle and Mrs Peel replaces her gun in her boot. They clink glasses and depart together. Fade to black and then the opening titles proper begin.

     

Film location plate presented by ABC TV to the Stapleford Miniature Railway, which is still in use today

In contrast to the Gale episodes, there was a lighter, comic touch in Steed and Peel's interactions with each other and their reactions to other characters and situations. Earlier series had a harder tone, with the Gale era including some quite serious espionage dramas. This almost completely disappeared as Steed and Peel visibly enjoyed topping each other's witticisms. The layer of conflict with Gale – who on occasion openly resented being used by Steed, often without her permission – was absent from Steed's interaction with Peel. Also the sexual tension between Steed and Gale was not present with Peel. In both cases, the exact relationship between the partners was left ambiguous, although they seemed to have carte blanche to visit each other's homes whenever they pleased and it was not uncommon for scenes to suggest Steed had spent the night at Gale's or Peel's home, or vice-versa. Although nothing "improper" was displayed, the obviously much closer chemistry between Steed and Peel constantly suggests intimacy between the two.

 

Science fiction fantasy elements (a style later known as Spy-fi) emerged in stories. The duo encountered killer robots ("The Cybernauts") and giant alien carnivorous plants ("The Man-Eater of Surrey Green").

 

In her fourth episode, "Death at Bargain Prices", Mrs Peel takes an undercover job at a department store. Her uniform for promoting space-age toys is an elaborate leather catsuit plus silver boots, sash, and welder's gloves. The suit minus the silver accessories became her signature outfit, which she wore primarily for fight scenes, in early episodes, and in the titles. There was a fetishistic undercurrent in some episodes. In "A Touch of Brimstone" Mrs Peel dressed in a dominatrix outfit of corset, laced boots and spiked collar to become the "Queen of Sin".

 

Peel's avant-garde fashions, featuring bold accents and high-contrast geometric patterns, emphasized her youthful, contemporary personality. She represented the modern England of the Sixties – just as Steed, with his vintage style and mannerisms, personified Edwardian era nostalgia. According to Macnee in his book The Avengers and Me, Rigg disliked wearing leather and insisted on a new line of fabric athletic wear for the fifth series. Alun Hughes, who had designed clothing for Diana Rigg's personal wardrobe, was suggested by the actress to design Emma Peel's "softer" new wardrobe. Pierre Cardin was brought in to design a new wardrobe for Macnee. In America, TV Guide ran a four-page photospread on Rigg's new "Emmapeeler" outfits (10–16 June 1967). Eight tight-fitting jumpsuits in a variety of bright colors were created using the stretch fabric crimplene.

 

Another memorable feature of the show from this point onwards was its automobiles. Steed's signature cars were vintage 1926–1928 Bentley racing or town cars, including Blower Bentleys and Bentley Speed Sixes (although, uniquely, in "The Thirteenth Hole" he drives a Vauxhall 30/98), while Peel drove a sporty Lotus Elan convertible which, like her clothes, emphasized her independence and vitality. During the first Peel series, each episode ended with a short, comedic scene of the duo leaving the scene of their most recent adventure in some unusual vehicle.

 

For this series Diana Rigg's stunt double was stuntman Billy Westley, Patrick Macnee's stunt double was Peter Clay.

 

Fifth series

 

After one filmed series (of 26 episodes) in black and white, The Avengers began filming in colour for the fifth series in 1966. It was three years before Britain's ITV network began full colour broadcasting.

 

This series was broadcast in the U.S. from January to May 1967. The American prologue of the previous series was rejigged for the colour episodes. It opened with the caption The Avengers In Color (required by ABC for colour series at that time). This was followed by Steed unwrapping the foil from a champagne bottle and Peel shooting the cork away. (Unlike the "chessboard" opening of the previous series, this new prologue was also included in UK broadcasts of the series.)

 

The first 16 episodes of the fifth series begin with Peel receiving a call-to-duty message from Steed: "Mrs Peel, we're needed." Peel was conducting her normal activities when she unexpectedly received a message on a calling card or within a delivered gift, at which point Steed suddenly appeared (usually in her apartment). The messages were delivered by Steed in increasingly bizarre ways as the series progressed: in a newspaper Peel had just bought, or on traffic lights while she was out driving. On one occasion Steed appeared on her television set, interrupting an old science-fiction movie (actually clips from their Year Four episode "The Cybernauts") to call her to work. Another way Steed contacted her was in the beginning of episode 13, "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Station" when she enters her flat and sees a Meccano Percy the Small Engine going around a circular track with a note on one of the train cars that says "Mrs. Peel" in bold letters, she then walks over to Steed who says "you're needed". At the start of "The Hidden Tiger" Peel is redecorating her apartment (wearing a jumpsuit and drinking champagne); she peels off a strip of wallpaper, revealing the words "Mrs Peel" painted on the wall beneath. She turns to see Steed in the apartment removing another strip of wallpaper, revealing "We're needed" painted underneath on another wall. In another instance Emma enters Steed's flat to find he has just fallen down the stairs, and he painfully gasps, "Mrs Peel, you're needed." Often the episode's tag scene returned to the situation of the "Mrs Peel, we're needed" scene. "The Hidden Tiger" returns to the partially redecorated apartment where Steed begins painting a love heart and arrow and the initials of two people on the wall, but paints over the initials when Peel sees his graffito. In "The Superlative Seven" the call to duty and the tag both involve a duck shooting situation where unexpected items fall from the sky after shots are fired.

 

The series also introduced a comic tag line caption to the episode title, using the format of "Steed [does this], Emma [does that]." For example "The Joker" had the opening caption: "Steed trumps an ace, Emma plays a lone hand".('The Joker' was to a large extent a re-write colour episode of the earlier Cathy Gale b/w era story; 'Don't Look Behind You' as were a few other later episodes re-writes in colour of b/w era tales.)

 

The "Mrs Peel, we're needed" scenes and the alternate tag lines were dropped after the first 16 episodes, after a break in production, for financial reasons. They were deemed by the U.K. networks as disposable if The Avengers was to return to ITV screens. (Dave Rogers' book The Avengers Anew lists a set for every Steed/Peel episode except "The Forget-Me-Knot".)

 

Stories were increasingly characterised by a futuristic, science fiction bent, with mad scientists and their creations wreaking havoc. The duo dealt with being shrunk to doll size ("Mission... Highly Improbable"), pet cats being electrically altered into ferocious and lethal "miniature tigers" ("The Hidden Tiger"), killer automata ("Return of The Cybernauts"), mind-transferring machines ("Who's Who???"), and invisible foes ("The See-Through Man").

 

The series parodied its American contemporaries with episodes such as "The Girl From AUNTIE", "Mission... Highly Improbable" and "The Winged Avenger" (spoofing The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Mission: Impossible and Batman, respectively). The show still carried the basic format – Steed and his associate were charged with solving the problem in the space of a 50-minute episode, thus preserving the safety of 1960s Britain.

 

Comedy was evident in the names and acronyms of the organizations. For example, in "The Living Dead", two rival groups examine reported ghost sightings: FOG (Friends Of Ghosts) and SMOG (Scientific Measurement Of Ghosts). "The Hidden Tiger" features the Philanthropic Union for Rescue, Relief and Recuperation of Cats—PURRR—led by characters named Cheshire, Manx, and Angora.

 

The series also occasionally adopted a metafictional tone, coming close to breaking the fourth wall. In the series 5 episode "Something Nasty in the Nursery" Peel directly references the series' storytelling convention of having potentially helpful sources of information killed off just before she or Steed arrive. This then occurs a few minutes later. In the tag scene for the same episode, Steed and Peel tell viewers – indirectly – to tune in next week.

 

For this series Diana Rigg's stunt double was stuntwoman Cyd Child, though stuntman Peter Elliot doubled for Rigg in a stunt dive in "The Bird Who Knew Too Much".

 

Rigg's departure

 

Rigg was initially unhappy with the way she was treated by the show's producers. During her first series she learned she was being paid less than the camera man. She demanded a raise, to put her more on a par with her co-star, or she would leave the show. The producers gave in, thanks to the show's great popularity in the US.

 

At the end of the fifth series in 1967, Rigg left to pursue other projects. This included following Honor Blackman to play a leading role in a James Bond film, in this case On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

 

Rigg and Macnee have remained lifelong friends.

 

1968–69: With Tara King (Linda Thorson)

  

Thorson and Macnee

When Diana Rigg left the series in October 1967, the British network executives decided that the current series formula, despite resulting in popular success, could not be pursued further. Thus they decided that a "return to realism" was appropriate for the sixth series (1968–69). Brian Clemens and Albert Fennel were replaced by John Bryce, producer of most of the Cathy Gale-era episodes.

 

Bryce had a difficult situation in hand. He had to find a replacement for Diana Rigg and shoot the first seven episodes of the new series, which were supposed to be shipped to America together with the last eight Emma Peel colour episodes.

 

Bryce signed his then-girlfriend, 20-year-old newcomer Linda Thorson, as the new female costar and chose the name "Tara King" for her character. Thorson played the role with more innocence in mind and at heart; and unlike the previous partnerships with Cathy and Emma, the writers allowed subtle hints of romance to blossom between Steed and King. King also differed from Steed's previous partners in that she was a fully fledged (albeit initially inexperienced) agent working for Steed's organisation; his previous partners had all been (in the words of the prologue used for American broadcasts of the first Rigg series) talented amateurs. Bryce wanted Tara to be blonde, so Thorson's brown hair was bleached. However the process badly damaged Thorson's hair, so she had to wear wigs for the first third of her episodes, until her own hair grew back. Her natural brown hair was not seen until the episode "All Done with Mirrors".

 

Production of the first seven episodes of the sixth series began. However financial problems and internal difficulties undermined Bryce's effort. He only managed to complete three episodes: "Invitation to a Killing" (a 90-minute episode introducing Tara King), "The Great, Great Britain Crime" (some of its original footage was reused in the 1969 episode "Homicide and Old Lace") and "Invasion of the Earthmen" (which survived relatively intact except for the scenes in which Tara wears a brown wig.)

 

After a rough cut screening of these episodes to studio executives, Bryce was fired and Clemens and Fennel were summoned back. At their return, a fourth episode called "The Murderous Connection" was in its second day of production. After revising the script, it was renamed as "The Curious Case of the Countless Clues" and production was resumed. Production of the episode "Split!", a leftover script from the Emma Peel colour series, proceeded. Two completely new episodes were also shot: "Get-A-Way", and "Look (Stop Me If You've Heard This One) But There Were These Two Fellers".

 

Dennis Spooner said of the event that "Brian left The Avengers for about three episodes, someone took over, and when Brian came back, it was in a terrible state. He was faced with doing a rewrite on a film they'd already shot." The episode had a story error where Steed leaves for a destination. The villains then realise this and pursue him – yet arrive there before Steed does. It was fixed by having a character ask Steed 'What took you so long?', to which he replies 'I came the pretty way'. "You can only do that on The Avengers you see. It was just my favourite show to work on."[10]

 

Clemens and Fennel decided to film a new episode to introduce Tara King. This, the third episode filmed for the sixth series, was titled "The Forget-Me-Knot" and bade farewell to Emma Peel and introduced her successor, a trained but inexperienced agent named Tara King. It would be broadcast as the first episode of the sixth series. Tara debuts in dynamic style: when Steed is called to Headquarters, he is attacked and knocked down by trainee agent King who mistakes him for her training partner.

 

No farewell scenes for Emma Peel had been shot when Diana Rigg left the series. Rigg was recalled for "The Forget-Me-Knot", through which Emma acts as Steed's partner as usual. Rigg also filmed a farewell scene for Emma which appeared as the tag scene of the episode. It was explained that Emma's husband, Peter Peel, was found alive and rescued, and she left the British secret service to be with him. Emma visits Steed to say goodbye, and while leaving she passes Tara on the stairway giving the advice that "He likes his tea stirred anti-clockwise." Steed looks out the window as a departing Emma enters the Bentley driven by Peter – who from a distance seems to resemble Steed (and was played by Patrick Macnee, wearing a bowler hat and umbrella).

 

Bryce's original episode introducing Tara, "Invitation to a Killing", was revised as a regular 60-minute episode named "Have Guns Will Haggle". These episodes, together with "Invasion of the Earthmen" and the last eight Peel colour episodes, were shipped to America in February 1968.

 

For this series the government official who gave Steed his orders was depicted on screen. Mother, introduced in "The Forget-Me-Knot", is a man in a wheelchair. The role was taken by Patrick Newell who had played different roles in two earlier episodes, most recently in series five. Mother's headquarters would shift from place to place, including one episode where his complete office was on the top level of a double-decker bus. (Several James Bond films of the 1970s would make use of a similar gimmick for Bond's briefings.)

 

Added later as a regular was Mother's mute Amazonian assistant, Rhonda (Rhonda Parker). There was one appearance by an agency official code-named "Father", a blind older woman played by Iris Russell. (Russell had appeared in the series several times previously in other roles.) In one episode, "Killer", Steed is paired with Lady Diana Forbes Blakeney (Jennifer Croxton) while King is on holiday.

 

Scriptwriter Dennis Spooner later reflected on this series. "When I wrote "Look (Stop Me If You've Heard This One) But There Were These Two Fellers", that was definitely the last series. They were going to make no more, so in that series we went right over the top; we went really weird, because they knew there weren't going to be any more."[11]

 

Spooner said the series "worked because it became a parody on itself, almost. You can only do that so long." Overall he attributes the success of the show to its light approach. "We spoofed everything, we took Mission: Impossible, Bad Day at Black Rock, High Noon, The Dirty Dozen, The Birds... we took them all. The film buffs used to love it. There were always lines in it that people knew what we were talking about."[11]

 

Vehicle wise, Steed continued to drive vintage green Bentleys in the first seven episodes in production. His regular transport for the remainder of the series were two yellow Rolls-Royce cars. Mother also occasionally appeared in silver Rolls-Royces. Tara King drove an AC 428 and a Lotus Europa. Lady Diana Forbes Blakeney drove an MGC Roadster.

 

The revised series continued to be broadcast in America. The episodes with Linda Thorson as King proved to be highly rated in Europe and the UK. In the United States however, the ABC network that carried the series chose to air it opposite the number one show in the country at the time, Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. Steed and King could not compete, and the show was cancelled in the US. Without this vital commercial backing, production could not continue in Britain either, and the series ended in May 1969. The final scene of the final episode ("Bizarre") has Steed and King, champagne glasses in hand, accidentally launching themselves into orbit aboard a rocket, as Mother breaks the fourth wall and says to the audience, "They'll be back!" before adding in shock, "They're unchaperoned up there!"

 

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Courtesy of Chatwick University Archives, 1960

 

SPECIAL PRICE APPLIES - CONSULT CAMERA PRESS OR ITS LOCAL AGENT. Stars of Spielberg's big screen adaptation of 'Warhorse' pictured at Tilsey Farm, in Bramley in Surrey, England. PICTURED: Tom Hiddleston *** Local Caption *** 01570893

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Based on a true adventures of a rogue active in the waning years of the 1930’s as discovered in the criminal archives of Chatwick University.

 

Act 1

I begin my tale in the present…

 

That afternoon a soiree was given as part of the purchase price of the tickets for the annual Autumn Charity Ball to be presented later that evening at the manor’s great house. Since I was alone, I just went mainly for the free food and to rub my elbows with the wealthy guests who would be in happy attendance there, and at the Ball. I was alone, but certainly not bored. There was a game I enjoyed playing to pass the time at these affairs that entailed scoping out by their dress and day jewels worn, those ladies whom would be most likely to be wearing the better costumes and sparklers that evening. It often proved to be a most beneficial insight into the actions and mannerisms of the very rich. I walked amongst the cheerful guests, eying one here ( a lady in satin and pearls) and another there( a high spirited girl with a diamond pin at the throat of her frilly silken blouse). It was as I was passing the latter that the friend she had been talking too (dressed like a vamp), bumped up against me. I caught her, steadying her as they both giggled. I didn’t mind, for the lassie’s too tight satin sheath tea dress had been an enticement to hold, and the gold bracelet that had been dangling from her gloved wrist had been a pleasure to observe. I kissed her gloved hand, rings glittering, as I apologized gallantly for my clumsiness. Her eyes were bright, almost as bright as the twin necklaces of gold that hung swaying down pleasantly from between her ample bosom. I left them, moving on to greener pastures, and it was very green, all of it….

 

It was then that I detected another pretty lassie. It was her long fiery red hair with falling wispy curls that first captured my attention. She was wearing a fetchingly smart white chiffon party dress that commanded me to acquire a closer examination. She appeared to be a blithe spirit, seemingly content with just being by herself and roaming about with casual elegance, the extensive grounds of the manor proper. I began to discreetly follow her at a distance. Although she did not wear any jewelry, her manner and the eloquent way she moved is what attracted me the most. It would be very interesting to seek her out later that evening and she what she would have chosen to decorate herself with. I followed her as she sojourned into the depths of a traditional English garden with a maze of lushly green trimmed 8 foot high hedges

 

As I strolled through the hedgerows in her wake I allowed my mind to wander its own course. Suddenly I straightened up, my reverie broken by an epiphany of sorts. I allowed myself to grin and the lady whose enchantment I was swollen up in, at that moment turned, and seeing my beaming smile assumed it was for her and gave me a rather cute nod of her head. I answered in same, as I headed en route to a nearby stone garden bench to allow my thoughts to think through themselves.

 

But before I go on, allow me the pleasure to sojourn and reminisce about an incident that occurred several years prior:

*******************

I was still working unaided in those days, travelling on to a new next quest that would take me just outside of Surrey.

I had just purchased my train ticket and had seen my luggage safe on board when I decided to rest in the lounge, it being some 45 minutes before allowed to enter personally aboard. Being so early the lounge was almost deserted, only one other occupant. I assumed she was waiting for someone on an incoming train due to the fact she carried no luggage. She was obviously well off, well dressed in satins and lace, and her jewels shone magnificently in the dim lights. Especially one of her rings, noticeably lying loosely around a finger, it sparkled with an expensive brilliance. I had seen one like it in a tiffanies store, worth almost 250 pounds. But she did not appreciate the show her jewelry was putting on under the lounge lights, for she was fast asleep.

 

I circled around her, aiming for a seat next to her, eyeing her and her possessions carefully. I noticed her purse had fallen off her lap and lay on the floor. An idea popped into my head, and I picked the purse up, and looked around carefully, before placing my plan into action. But I was thwarted as an older, matronly lady was spotted heading our way. I slipped the purse into my jacket and moved off before I was noticed. Of course she came in and took the empty seat across form the sleeping princess, and soon busied herself with knitting. As the older lady had sat down, not quietly, the wealthy lady stirred waking up at the noise. I went into a corner and sat, waiting. The two ladies soon fell into conversation; the minute’s ticked by excruciatingly slow. Soon I noticed we even had more company.

He was a lad of only fourteen, but with a devilish look about him that marked him a kindred spirit to meself, and his quick eyes were darting about taking it all in as he stood outside the paned glass window.

 

It was as the first announcement of boarding the train that I saw a chance for opportunity to strike.

The older lady folded up her knitting and clinching her bag, bid adieu to her new friend,( befuddled a little by the old ladies constant stream of gossip), and headed to the train. I was twenty steps ahead of her and was standing behind the youth as she left the lounge. I tapped him on the shoulder; he looked around at me suspiciously, and then caught sight of the shilling I was holding in front of his nose. I quickly whispered a few words into his ear on how he could earn it, and his grin spread as he bought into my story. I still held onto the shilling as he darted around and inside the lounge. I watched as he ran up behind the lady, circling her, then running in front of her he tripped over her leg, as she helped him up, her hand with the ring reaching down, he turned and spat onto the wrist and sleeve of that hand, than standing he ran away. Running alongside me, I handed him the shilling in passing as he ran off, disappearing in to the street.

 

I went inside and approached the astonished lady, as she was looking for her purse to get a handkerchief, confused as to its absence, while she held up her soiled hand( ring glittering furiously) in utter disbelief. I approached, catching her attention by the soothing words I uttered to her. I took her hand, unbelieving with her at just had happened, and I as I apologized for the youth of today I produced my own silk handkerchief and starting with her silky sleeve, began to wipe it off, continuing my tirade of displeasure and contempt at what had just occurred to the dear lady as I did so. As I finishing wiping her down, ending with her warm slender fingers, I kissed them, just as the last boarding announcement came over (perfect timing!) I let her go, explaining that I must catch my train. I turned and without looking back made the train just as it was letting off steam before chugging off.

 

I gained my private carriage just as the train began to lurch away. It wasn’t until after the train began its journey that I casually removed my silk handkerchief from my pocket and unwrapped it carefully, admiring up close the shimmering, valuable tiffany ring that was lying inside. I pocketed it, and then remembered the purse. I took it out and examined its contents: coin and notes equaling a handsome amount, a gold (gilded) case, embroidered lacy handkerchief, small silver flask of perfume, and ( of all things)a large shimmering prism , like one that would have dangled from a fancy crystal chandelier. A prism?, I questioned with interest as I examined it. It was pretty thing, about the circumference of a cricket ball, but shaped like a pendulum, it shimmered and glittered like the most precious of jewels. Why she had it in her purse? I couldn’t guess, and I saw no value in it, so I pocketed it and allowed it to leave my mind.

 

As I settled into my seat I began to think of the lad I had just met, I had been right on the money as far as his eagerness for mischief. Actually he reminded me of myself at that age, and I wondered if that lad with the shifty eyes would also turn out to follow the same course I had explored.

 

Which Begs the question, what had I turned out to become. And since I’m still reminiscing

I’ll give little background material about me, hopefully I don’t come across as being too conceited about my self-taught skills..

 

I had never been one to take the hard road, and even at a young age I was always looking for angles, or short cuts to make some money.

Once, while watching for some time a street magician and his acts. I observed a pick pocket working the crowd. He approached a pair of well-dressed ladies in shiny clothes, and standing behind them bided his time and then lifted a small pouch from one velvet purse, and a fat wallet from a silken one, then he moved on. Now both ladies were wearing shiny bracelets, one with jewels. I thought that he could have realized a greater profit if he had nicked one or both of the bracelets first, than try for the contents of their purses. The bracelets’ alone would have realized a far greater profit than what he lifted from their purses. It further occurred to me that by mimicking some of the sleight of hand tricks and misdirection that the magician was using on his audience, it could be accomplished. A hand placed on the right shoulder and as the lady turned right, whisk off the bracelet from her left wrist, and excuse oneself, that sort of thing.

 

So, I practiced (on my sisters, who proved to be willing accomplices to “my game”) and learned to pick their purses and pockets. I than moved onto their jewelry, starting by lifting bracelets and slipping away rings, before advancing to the brooches, necklaces and earrings they were wearing. After I was satisfied at my skill level, I went out and worked the streets. Sometimes using my one sister who was also hooked on what I was doing as a willing partner.

But I found myself still not being satisfied, in the back of my mind I thought there had to be a more lucrative way to turn a profit.

 

I’d found my answer when an attractive lady in a rustling satin gown zeroed in on me while I was “visiting” a ballroom. She was jeweled like a princess right up to the diamond band she wore holding up her piles of soft locks like a glimmering crown. The more she drank, the closer she got and I decided that her necklace would definitely help pay my expenses more than the contents of her purse (although I had already lifted the fat wallet from her small purse), and I did have very expensive tastes to pay for. So I took her onto the dance floor.

 

I was amazed at how easily I had been able to open the necklace’s clasp , slipping it over her satiny shoulder, lifting it off and placing it safely in my pocket with almost no effort. Then she decided to be playful once the song ended and brushed up against me. She felt the necklace in my pocket and before I could act she had her hand in and pulled it out.

 

The silly naive twit thought I was teasing her and told me that for my penance I had to go up to her suite in order to put it back on for her. I kept up the charade as best as I could.

 

And that’s where we ended up. A little bit of light fondling began as I placed the necklace back around her throat. I began to tease her, plied her with more and more alcohol as I tried to keep my distance, and virginity. Finally she passed out in a drunken stupor, but not before I had learned where she hid her valuables by suggesting she should lock her jewels up for the night..

 

With her safely unconscious, I began to strip her clean off all her jewels, reclaiming the necklace first. Then I visited all her jewelry casket and began looting it. I even took her small rhinestone clutch with the diamond clasp; of course I already had liberated its small wallet.

 

When I’d left her lying happily asleep in bed, still in her satin gown( the only item left to her that shined), I knew I had found a much more profitable line of “work”

 

So I began making circuits around to the haunts of the very rich, I still kept may hand in pickpocketing, so to speak, but centered only on those “pockets” containing mainly jewelry. I also began to carefully explore new ways of acquiring jewels” in masse”, so to speak.

 

Soon I had accumulated many tricks and tools, having them at my disposal to put into action once required, and for the remaining years up till the present had managed to live quite comfortably off of the ill-gotten gains using them allowed me to acquire.

 

Which brings me back to the train ride, my prism, and the rest of my background story before I retun to the present tale. Please be patient.

*****

So, anyway, I reached Surry without any further incident and disembarking, made my way out to the large country house where I would be staying to take a short rest, vacation if you will. But, pardon the play on words, for there is never any rest for the wicked, is there?

 

I had become acquainted with a servant of the old mansion ( almost a small castle, really) , that was about a mile off. I managed to learn a great deal, and soon found myself, on the pretense of visiting her, exploring the grounds. There was to be a grand ball taking place a couple of weekends away , and the maid had filled my ears with the riches that would be displayed by the multitude of regal ladies making an appearance. I began to think about trying to make a little bit of profit from my vacation. I am not sure how the idea developed, but the prism that I still had in my possession, came up centrally into my plans.

 

Late on the evening of the regal affair, I snuck over, covered head to toe in black, with my small satchel off tools by my side. I set up a candle behind an old stone ivy covered wall in a far corner of the rather large and intricate English garden that surrounded the inner circle around the mansion. I than strung the jewel-like prism in front of it. Standing behind the wall, I would strike the prism with a long stick I was holding whenever I observed sparkles emanating from silkily gowned ladies walking in the distance, solitary or in pairs. The prism would flash fire, sort of like a showy lure being used when fishing in a crooked trout stream. Only I was fishing for far sweeter game than trout. My objective was to trick certain types of jeweled ladies (scatterbrains some may call them) by luring them down onto the path beyond the wall, using their natural curiosity to my advantage.

 

I had at least two strikes rise up to my lure in the second hour.

On was a pretty lady in flowing green satin number, decorated with plenty of emeralds, which, hidden in the shadows, I observed were probably paste. I let her wonder about; as she looked and played with the shiny toy, remaining hidden until she grew bored and wandered off.

The second was a slender maiden wearing a long sleek black gown with long ivory silk gloves. I had never before seen a lady so decked out in jewels, literally head to toe. With the exception of the rhinestones adorning her heels, the rest of the lot was real, so valuably real that I could feel my mouth salivating at the thoughts of acquiring her riches. Now in Edwardian times only older, married ladies would be allowed the privilege of wearing a diamond Tiara. But in these modern times, it had become culturally acceptable for any well-to do lady, single or otherwise, to wear one out in society. Even so, they were still rarely worn, and seldom seen outside the safety of large gatherings. But there it was, a small, delicately slender piece of intricate art that glistened from the top of her head like some elegant beacon. That piece alone was probably worth more than I had made all the last four months combined!

I began to skirt around in the shadows, placing myself in position to cut off her retreat. Her diamonds blazed as she approached, eyeing the swinging prism with total concentration. Which was unfortunate, because as I was about to leave the shadows, she walked into the thorns of a rose bush, screeching out, and attracting the notice of a pair of gentlemen who had just crossed the path quite a ways off, called out when they heard the commotion. She started to become chatty with them, obviously coming on to her rescuers, my prism all but forgotten. Than before I knew it, in a swishing of her long gown, she was gone, “swimming” off before I was able to set me ”hook”.

 

Which I was able to do on the third strike, almost an hour later, just as I was beginning to ponder wither I should call it off and head back home..

 

They were a pair of young damsels in their young twenties. They may have been sisters, or cousins at the least. I still remember how my heart leapt into my throat as they observed my colourful prism and turned down the old flagstone path. I had not seen anyone out and about for some time, so I knew they would be no would be rescuers around to come to their aid

And, best of all, they were both dressed for the kill!

One, the blonde, was clad in a black velvet number that one could cannily describe as quite form fitting. As were the small ropes of pearls that hung from all points of interest, pretty with a matching pricelessness.

But her cousin, as I will refer to her, out shone black velvet quite literally.

This one, a stunning raven haired beauty, wore a long streaming gown of liquid ivory satin. A diamond brooch sparkled as it held up a fold of the gown to her waist. The fold allowed her to show a rather daring amount of a slender bare calf. The brooch was not paste, but a real jewel that had been added for the nights festivities ( To be successful, one learns to read these signs accurately) Her ears and neckline were home to a matching set of pure white diamonds. A wide diamond bracelet graced a bare right wrist ,so she must be left handed I instinctively thought, an observation that would have aided me if I were planning on having a go for slipping the bracelet from her wrist, but tonight I was planning a much more daring attempt to empty the entire jewel casket, so to speak.

 

They went to the prism, playing with it a bit, I had begun to circle around, when I noticed black velvet pointing out with multiple ringed fingers, to something further down the path past the wall.

 

With a clicking of heels I let the pair pass, they apparently wanted to see what was on the other side of the wall. I followed; it was not hard, because the necklace the raven haired one wore, diamonds fully encircling her throat, rippled and sparkled from their perch, caught in the full harvest moon’s cast, giving me more than enough light to shadow them quietly .

 

After a while they caught on that something/someone was following them, but as they turned they could see nothing. I was in black, and hooded, invisible to them in the shadows of the trees. They whispered amongst themselves, now worried, realizing that there were dangers lurking beyond the pale, in their case, the safety of the gardens , especially for ones decked out as they were. They then turned and headed right back from where they had come, right into my waiting arms.

 

It is interesting what good breeding does for young, poised ladies. For, as I stepped out of the shadows, a finger of my right hand to my lips, my Fairborn in my left hand, its black blade glinting wickedly in the moonlight , they did not scream out or shout for help. Instead the pair merely let out small gasps, and then they both, in a quite charming synchronized display of disbelief, place each one hand over their open mouths, and the other upon their perspective necklaces.

 

And as I flourished my wicked looking Fairbairn–Sykes blade in their direction, they unquestioningly reached around and undid those pretty necklaces, tremblingly handing them out to me, like actresses following a well-read script. I took the little pretties and after stuffing them into my satchel, held out again my free hand, my fingers beckoning. Not a word was spoken between us, as the frightened pair of young ladies began removing their shimmering jewels and added them in a neat little growing pile along my open palm. The raven haired girl even undid her brooch without me having to command her to do so. Once I had stashed it all away, I motioned for them to turn back around, than with a little helpful prodding on my part, they began moving forward back down the hill, away from the garden. The one in white hobbling a little now as she kept tripping over the hem of her dress, now no longer held up by the stolen brooch.

 

After we had traveled about 200 meters I had them stop, and take off their high heels. Then picking the pretty things up, I motioned them to turn back around and made them walk back the way we had come in their bare feet, watching the pair awkwardly hobble barefooted down the wooded path. They would be quite a while on their journey back, allowing me more than ample time to make me escape. I threw their shoes off to the side and went briskly the other way, reaching the place was staying at , gaining my room without notice. But not before I had hidden the jewels inside an old stump to retrieve them at a later date. I never really heard so much as a whisper of the incident, other than from the pretty lips of my friendly maiden. The wee hours of the morning before my early departure for the train station found me revisiting the stump and retrieving my satchel and its precious cargo. After hiding it all in a false bottom of my case I laid my head on the pillow and drifted off to sleep as I wondered what had happened to the little prism, marveling at how useful it had ended up proving to be.

 

So, how does this story (journey rather) relate to the one I had already started? Please read on, and enrich your curiosity… my dear readers.

****************************************************************************

Act 2

 

So, with apologies for my lengthy elucidation, but I now return you back to the garden party I was now attending on that warm fall day. But, as you will see, my prism story needed to be told in order to add a bit of flavor to what was about to unfold.

 

As I sat on the garden bench I formulated my plans. I should be able to acquire the main piece tonight at the Ball, I would have time this afternoon to retrieve my ever handy satchel and its array of tools and have it hidden at the spot I had already selected. It was perfect, located at the end of the path I had found, or rather the charming lady in the smart chiffon dress had found for me. A gas lamp would provide adequate light for my “lure”, and it led to a back wood where I could lead any victims away and liberate them of their valuables before making my escape. I rose, just enough time to walk my escape route, before setting up and then be dressed for the evening’s festivities. I looked around, I was alone now, my lady in white had disappeared, following her own course, whatever it may have been.

 

The Autumn Ball that evening was in full swing by the time I arrived. Being a cool fall day, most of the women were wearing long gowns and dresses, and that, for whatever the reason, usually meant they were decked out with more layers of jewelry than say , if it had been the middle of summer. In order to put my plan in action I need and intrinsic piece of the trap, a prism. The one I had once had was long ago lost, a minor pawn in a game to take a pair of princesses.

 

I knew exactly the type of prism required for my plan, and so began mingling amongst the guests with that in mind.

 

I started out by walking through to the chamber like ballroom where a full orchestra was starting to play. The first person I saw from the garden party was the little tramp who had been wearing the too tight satin tea dress. That dress had been replaced with a long silky gown, her gold jewelry replaced with emeralds; including a thin bracelet that had taken the place of the gold one that she had so obligingly dangled in my larcenous path. I decided to avoid her In principle, and in doing so spied someone quite interesting.

 

That someone was a pretty lady in a long velvet gown standing off to one side, idly watching the many dancers out on the floor. The dancing couples were forming an imagery of a rainbow coloured sea of slinky swirling gowns and with erupting fireworks of sparkling jewels, ignited by pair of immensely large chandeliers that hung over the dance floor, setting them off. I made my way, skirting the dance floor to reach her, my eyes on her jewels, which were making pretty fireworks of their own. I happened to walk up just as a waiter with a tray of drinks was passing by. Plucking off a drink I offered it to the lady with one hand, my other hand placed on her back as If to steady myself. She laughed prettily, and taking the drink I met her eyes, as she was focused on reaching and holding the glass in her slippery gloved hand, mine was on the ruby and diamond necklace. My hand behind her had flicked open the simple hook and eye clasp of the antique piece and was in the process of lifting it up and whisking it away from her throat. As I said a few words to her, I pocketed it, while also taking in the rest of her lovely figure and its shiny decorations, before biding adieu. She smiled, her pale bare neckline now quite glaringly extinguished of its fire.

 

It was about an hour later, after spotting, but unable to make inroads with several likely candidates, that I finally struck gold (figuratively). It came in the form of a young couple arguing between themselves in a far corner of the chamber. She was lecturing a rather handsome man in a tux, her jeweled fingers flying in his face. If she hadn’t been moving about in such an animated fashion as she lectured, I may not have even noticed her. But as it happened I did, especially noticeable was the sanctimonious lady’s wide jeweled bracelet that was bursting out in a rainbow of colorful flickers as her hand was emphatically waving, as her long gown of silk swished around with every movement she made. Perfect. I watched for a bit, and sure enough they moved off, the man heading for the patio leading outside, the wealthy girl following him, still giving him lashes with her tongue. I moved and managed to have her bump into me simply by stepping on the hemline of her long gown. For a few seconds I was the one on the receiving end of her wrath, but I took it like a man, I could see in the eyes of her tongue lashed husband, that he was grateful for the respite. I was also grateful; grateful for the quite wide, very shimmering, bracelet that I had removed from her wrist and now was residing in my pocket.

 

I began to leave the patio, but was stopped by a matronly lady in ruffles, laces and pearls, her breath heavy with alcohol. She started to question me on what the couple had been on about. Then without waiting for an answer she launched herself into a tirade of her own, her gem encrusted, silken gloved fingers, waving in my face for emphasis. It was almost ten minutes before I was able to make my escape. Which I did, but not before slipping off one of the lecturing ladies vulgarly large cocktail rings.

 

I headed onto the patio; the time was getting ripe for my plan, which I was now ready to put into motion, now having acquired its most essential piece. I went to the end of the large patio, weaving in and out of the by now well liquored guests whom had assembled there. Across the way I saw a lady tripping over her own gown. By the time I reached her she had fallen down, giggling merrily. Two of us rushed to her aid, she was busy gushed her thanks to the rescuer she knew, while ignoring the one she didn’t! Which was unfortunate on her part, for by ignoring me, she also was ignorant of the fact that I was busy lifting the small stands of black pearls from her wrist. I left unnoticed, much like a shadow fading out of the light, or at least that’s how it seemed. Finally I reached the patios outer edge without further incident, or gain. I went on the grass and turned a corner with the intention of going, post haste around the house to reach the gardens by the long way, hoping not to be seen by anyone. But I no sooner turned the corner, when I realized that it was not to be the case.

 

It was my blithe spirit in white chiffon from the garden party, pardon me, soiree. She was unescorted, looking up at the moon above a stone turret with one lit window, so intently that my presence had not been noticed. I had been absolutely correct in my observation of her as far as what she would be wearing for the evening. For what she had lacked in ornaments at the soiree, she had more than made up for in the evening festivities. She was absolutely gorgeous, resplendent in as beautiful a silvery satin gown that I had ever witness. It was just pouring down, shimmering along her delightful figure. Her long blazing red hair was still curling down and free, but now a pair of long chandelier earrings cascading down from her earlobes, were peeking out every now and then as they swayed with her every movement. Her blazingly rippling necklace was all diamonds, dripping down the front of her tightly satin covered bosom, twinkling iridescently like an intensively glimmering waterfall. Her slender gloved wrists were home to a pair of dangling diamond bracelets that were almost outshone by her many glistening rings. All in all she was quite a lure all too herself

 

I came up to her, starling her from her reverie. Taking up her hand, I looked into her startled, suddenly blushing face. I complimented her on the fine gown she wore. She thanked me, and I could see I that she suddenly remembered she me as the chap who she thought smiled to her in the garden. She seemed to accept my compliment quite readily. I chanced it( although Lord knows I was short on time) and asked her to a dance. I did not think she would agree, so it was with a little bit of surprise, hoping she would politely decline and walk off, leaving me free to go about my business unobserved. But she accepted, and I will admit that my heart leapt as she agreed (although in the back of my mind I knew I should be off if my plan was to work). The music had stopped so we made small talk as we slowly walked back to the ballroom. Her name was Katrina. It seems she was waiting for someone, which suited my plans, but he was late and so she had time. Which may have sounded dismissive, but from the apologetic way she said it, it was anything but the sort.

 

The orchestra started to tune back up as we entered, and taking her offered hand up, was soon lost in the elegance of my appealing partner. It was a long dance, and a formal one, but I could tell she was subtly anxious to be off on her meeting, as I was to be off to my own adventure. But Katrina did not really allow it to show, which was very uncharacteristic of her someone with her obvious breeding. So I was ready when the by the end of the music she begged her condolences and took flight. I watched her as she fluidly moved away, her jewels sparkling, all of them. On her mission to meet Mr. X I thought, for whom I was already harboring a quite jealous dislike. I should be off I thought to meself.

 

But I stood, still as stone; totally mesmerized by the way Katrina’s swirling silvery satin gown was playing out along her petite, jewel sparkling figure. It wasn’t till the last of her gown swished around a corner out of sight that I moved, but not without having to shake my head to clear the thoughts of her out of it. Well old son, focus. For by now the guests were starting to wander a bit afield in the waning hours of the Autumn Ball, and my small window of opportunity was closing fast. If my little plan was going to have any chance of success it would have to be now.

 

I walked out and made my way to one of the outside exist of the garden wall. Reaching into my pocket as I did so, fingering the bracelet, now cold, that had belonged to the quarrelsome lady,and soon would be playing another role, far from one its former mistress would ever have dreamed off. I also felt my new acquisition, still warm from my dance partner’s body. I will admit that I had felt a twinge of regret for taking it from a lady I had found to be most charmingly captivating. But slipping off the diamonds up and away from her throat had been as temptingly easy as it had been automatic. I had advantageously made use of the sleekness of her scintillatingly silky gown, and with the distractions created by the movements of the dance, successfully managed to keep Katrina’s attention safely diverted from the reality of why my fingers were ever so gently, caressingly sliding along her slippery gowns neckline. The truth was I had originally placed my hand there because it had felt so right, and I was a little startled when my fingers had subconsciously started playing with her necklaces clasp. Before I knew it, they had flicked open the gemstone clasp of her obviously expensive diamond necklace, and had lifted up. As I watched out of the corner of my eye, almost like I was a spectator, as opposed to being the perpetrator, I saw the chain move up and over her shoulder; its diamonds sparkling with is as the necklace disappeared from view behind her back.

It was a favored technique that I had perfected to the point that by this stage of my career I nearly always acquired my objective. But, as odd as it sounds, I was not happy with myself on this occasion.

 

But I did not long dwell on my mixed feelings on taking the charming lass’s diamonds, for by now I had reached my place of ambush. It was in one of the farthest reaches of the garden, at a bend on the end of a long path that, with a gas lamp at its beginning just off the patio, would allow me to see from some distance off. Behind me was a break in the hedge wide enough for a person to walk through comfortably. It was here, off a tree limb, underneath a second ornate cast iron gas lamp, which was now lit, that I hung the shimmering bracelet that I had sought out and acquired for just that reason

 

I walked around and saw that it could be seen flickered off in the distance from the woods, Perfect! Earlier I had hidden my satchel with a hood and knife and bit of rope in the hollow of an old tree. I now retrieved them, and after getting ready, found my position and waited. At 10 minutes past the first hour of my wait, with nary a single glimpse of anyone, I started to fidget. My corner may be just a bit too desolated I was beginning to admit to myself. It seemed that most of the guests were staying by the patio. I was starting to think that I should pack it in, possibly rejoining the guests for one last parting( of someone from her Jewelry). I was just reaching down to pick up my satchel when I suddenly saw something flash under the gas lamp at the beginning of the path, and my senses immediately perked up. I watched as the wisps of rich shimmery satin moved closer, I stiffened, drooling with anticipation, the game was afoot.

  

I could see clearly the flickering jewels she wore, and by their blazing sparkles of rippling fire, I knew that my long vigil would not have been in vain. As the lady drew I recognized her gown of silvery satin! I knew who was making those tantalizing flashes of appealing treasures. Katrina!

 

I watched as she approached, in all her glittering elegance. My heart and conscious was in turmoil, but I knew I probably would not get a second chance. I could not let her get away unscathed. Beside, from the shock of being confronted with a masked scoundrel wielding a wicked blade, she would be in no shape to recognize her assailant. She stopped, apprehensively looking back towards the bright lights of the Manor, Then turning back I saw she had a self-satisfied smile creeping upon her face. She reached up, and undoing her hair, shook it down, curls of softness cascading down, hanging loosely down. It was as she performed this provocative act, that I saw her eyes open wide in curiosity; she had spied my pretty little “prism”. The charming fish was hooked.

 

I waited, watching her approaching ever closer to fate, and from my concealment, I basked in her glow. My heart beating fast, my adrenaline pumping, for the remaining jewels (I thought of her necklace in my custody) that she possessed I already had witnessed were quite valuable. She passed my hiding spot and went to the hanging, shimmering object. As she reached up, looking around, she failed to see me approaching in the shadows. I came up from behind, jabbing a finger in her back as I reached her, I gruffly in no uncertain terms, snarled for her to freeze and make no sound. She stiffened under my touch, but made no move or outcry. I went around; pointing my knife in her direction, looking into her sad doe wide eyes as she realized what was going to happen next. She was trembling; from fear I guessed, and knew I had her right where I wanted. As I made my demands upon her, gimme them jewels sister, she, not surprisingly, was very compliant in giving them up to me. She reached for her necklace last, and looked entirely shocked to find her throat bare, as she searched the neckline of her gown I saw her look into my hand, now dripping with her precious jewelry, almost as if to see if she had not already removed it. She looked apologetically into my eyes, startled; almost pleading that she didn’t know what had happened to it. I just played dump. She than spoke for the first time, sir, may I ask to keep my purse? Her words would have instantly melted even the coldest chunk of ice, I looked down at the little silvery clutch hanging from her arm on its rhinestone chain, I nodded, indicating that she could, and saw relief wash over her face. I told her she now needed to turn around and walk off into the woods ahead of me. She hesitated, and I told her no harm would befall her, I had no intentions along those lines.

 

About 5 meters in I stopped her, and had her remove her shoes, as she bent over to undo the high heels rhinestone clasps I watched her gown tightly outlining her figure. She tripped on the hem of her gown, and as she attempted to keep her balance, accidently let her purse slip off her shoulder. Without thinking I reached down to pick it up for her as she tried reached for it simultaneously

 

The small purse was far heavier than it should have been. Curious I opened it, finding that it contained a rather extensive array of mismatched jewelry, glittering in unbelievably expensive fire . I looked into Katrina’s horror struck eyes dumb founded, as she looked guiltily into mine. The gig was up. The jewels belonged to the lady of the manor, my muse in silver was a thief, a female version of me very self.

 

Aye, what’s this than luv? I questioned her as she looked into my eyes, hers large with a mixture of fright and disbelief. She melted before me, fainting, I caught her in my arms, and it was no ruse. I held her as she came to, holding her warm, silky figure lovingly to mine. I did not know what to think. Nor could I ever explain what possessed me to do what I did next. As she came to, her eyes opened, and I removed my mask, looking back into them deeply.

 

Oh, she gasped, I’m glad it was you, startled that she had said the words out loud. She than started to coyly blushes, quite demurely. Something sparked in me, and unless she was an incredibly good actress, it did also for Katrina. Our eyes both looked into the others, melting away in the lust of the moment. We embraced, deeply, and I held her squirming warm slick figure tight in my enveloping arms. I looked over her shoulder, eyeing the glistening bracelet hanging from its branch. To catch a thief, the thought suddenly opened in my mind, what a great title for a novel I thought to myself, as I buried my nose into Katrina’s luxuriously soft hair.

 

We talked for a bit, walking off into the woods, then she looked into my eyes again, a coy, look that melted me on the spot, and that was the end of it, we embraced again, and wholly gave ourselves to one another. What about your man I asked suddenly remembering, my man she questioned , than oh, you mean the Lord, I was waiting for him to come down from smoking in his tower study, that’s where the lady’s jewels are kept. She broke into an Irish brogue as she said the last bit, and that I guessed was her natural tongue. she laid a hand on the side of my face, thanks for being jealous though, me lad.

I should collect my lure I said, which made her smile; it was such an enticing smile at that. We started to head back and watched as it dangled in front of us flickering. With a far off look in her green eyes, Katrina spoke as if in deep though.

 

The daughter of the house, she has a bracelet on like the one you have dangling, a bracelet of diamonds that I had taken a fancy to, wishing it had been in the safe along with the rest of the ladies of manors jewelry. I knew who she was talking about. The one in green taffeta I asked? Aye lad, that’s the one. Actually her necklace would be just as easy, and worth more I said. Just then her bright green eyes gleamed, Give me about a half an hour, she told me, we will put your little lure to use again. She noticed my hesitation, don’t worry luv she said soothingly placing a gloved hand to my cheek, no longer was it sparkly with its stolen bracelet and rings. I’ll leave my purse with you, can’t very well be carrying it around now can I? I nodded my consent, my mind burning with the thoughts she had alluringly placed there.

  

She turned, and then hesitated; turning back she said I probably should not go back in naked luv. I smiled, reaching in I pulled out her necklace and placed it around her throat. With a little gasp she blurted, so it was you, I was wondering who and when it had happened. It’s not the first time I’ve had me jewels lifted, but it’s a bloody annoyance to have to let them get away with it, crawls under my skin to have pretend not to notice so that I don’t draw any attention to me self before making my move to steal the posh ones jewels.

 

But you, mister, I never felt as much as a prickling. I was ready to assume my pretties had been a victim of a broken clasp this time. I gave a little nod in acceptance. That wasn’t exactly a compliment lad, she said in what I hopped was a subtle jest. Just last summer some clumsy bugger slipped of me earrings, my favorite pearls, as we were danc… she stopped, seeing the guilt in my eyes. Men! As thieves you are all of the same skin she spat out angrily, or attempted to sound angry, for the look in her eyes to me she wasn’t. I best be off, before I change me mind about out little endeavor.

 

With that she swirled around on her heels, and started off, but not before turning and giving me an extremely coy look of interest. As she swirled back around I heard her say loud enough for my ears, I’ll learn me self to be a picker of pockets, see how males like to be taken advantage of in their vulnerabilities! She nodded to herself as she said it. Then suddenly she stopped, than twirled on her heels, her gown swirling enticingly along her figure. Looking me dead in the eye she said, “Vie ne est pas d'attendre que la tempête , mais d'apprendre à danser sous la pluie” !

 

What does that mean? I questioned in a low voice, perplexed.

 

Maybe, Mon Cheri, someday I will tell you… And with that she turned on her heel, her gown once again swirling about, and went, determinedly, swishing her way back up the path. I just watched. I had never heard anyone speak French with an Irish Brogue and I had found it to be rather provocative!

 

I watched as she swished and swayed her way back through the hedge and regained the path leading back to the manor. Her plan was simple; she would lead the daughter of the house to my corner and as she had done, go out with her to look at the swinging charm. I would then make my appearance, rob both ladies of their finery, and telling the daughter to wait until I released her friend, walk off with Katrina as a hostage, and we would both take off and make good our escape. A simple plan, so simple it should actually work.

 

So, there I was. Holding a purse with a small fortune in jewels, my pocket full of more jewels worth an additional pretty farthing, and her charms were wearing off by her leaving. And my thieving nature coming back, reawakened from the spell they had been under!

 

The devil of my conscious crept out on my shoulder, the angel markedly absent from the other.

 

Look mate, she may not be all she seems, and possibly has some other game in mind. Maybe she does have a male confidante helping her out… and was actually on her way to fetch him. He said in my inner ear. And, after all, you took her diamonds twice, didn’t ye now? Do you really think shell forgive you of that me lad?

 

And there is no honor amongst thieves, as the saying goes, he added as a closing argument...

 

I rolled it over in my mind…I could leave, absconding with it all, book a cruise to the states or down under where there lay untried fertile grounds to ply my trade. Not to mention working over my fellow passengers aboard the cruise ship while they attended the fancy affairs that were always going on, or so the brochures always seemed to show……

 

Then In the distance I caught a wisp of Katrina’s long silvery gown. She was coming, and not only with the daughter of the manor, but also with a spare. For I could see a purple coloured gown swishing alongside with the prey in rustling green taffeta.. I watched as all three ladies, resplendent with the rippling fiery gems they all possessed, came up the path, gowns sweeping out , shimmery from the now misty distance.

 

The thought of making my escape with all the loot continued to haunt me, there was still time now to take off without notice, or I could rob all three, and leave with purple silk as my hostage, Katrina would not be able to say anything on chance of giving up her part of the game, or I could just be a good lad and sty with the script that Katrina had written. Take a chance, roll the dice and believe that she was all she had me believing she could ever be.

 

As they came closer I knew my time was running out. The thoughts of just looking out for myself kept coming up playing the devil with my conscience as the precious seconds ticked away…

 

No honor amongst thieves…

What will it be, old boy I challenged myself,

What will you have it be?........

To see what his decision ultimately was, and the eventual path it led to, see the album question answered)

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Life is not about waiting out the storm, but about learning to dance in the rain.

Vie ne est pas d'attendre que la tempête , mais d'apprendre à danser sous la pluie .

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Courtesy of Chatwick University Archives

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Wood-burning 0-6-0WT 'M.N.No.1 Elouise' OK 9998 of 1922 shunting an open wagon conveying its fuel on the 2'0" gauge demonstration line at the Old Kiln Railway, Tilford, Farnham on 21st May 1989.

 

She was supplied new to Servicios Florestais, Portugal (Portuguese Forestry Commission) via an O&K agent in Madrid, Spain. The reason for this being In the First World War, O&K built railway engines and Rolling stock of all sizes for the German Government. With the collapse of Imperial Germany in November 1918, the Allies put further restrictions on German manufacturing and military capacity, seizing all army Feldbahn engines as per the terms of the Versailles Treaty that ended the First World war. The treaty also removed access to export markets; this had such an impact on the company at the end of 1925, work stopped for three months as a result of the lost business (Hence the works plates say Madrid even though she was built in Berlin.).

 

Little is known about her life in Portugal other than she ended up outside a cafe in Cascais as a tourist attraction. In 1969/70 she was brought over to Britain where, after several changes of ownership, she ended up on the Old Kiln Light Railway in 1986. She now runs without the spark-arresting chimney and in a red livery.

 

For more information, visit the Old Kiln Light Railway website is here: www.shepheard.plus.com/rlc/oklr/index.html

 

:copyright: Copyright Gordon Edgar - All rights reserved. Please do not use any of these images without my explicit permission

The rest of the tour behind me as I get my shots! This is looking towards the dead end, the track ends about 25m down this tunnel.

 

Aldwych tube station is a closed station on the London Underground, located in the City of Westminster in central London. It was opened in 1907 with the name Strand, after the street on which it is located, and was the terminus and only station on the short Piccadilly line branch from Holborn that was a relic of the merger of two railway schemes. The station building is close to the junction of Strand and Surrey Street, near Aldwych. During its lifetime, the branch was the subject of a number of unrealised extension proposals that would have seen the tunnels through the station extended southwards, usually to Waterloo.

Served by a shuttle train for most of their life and suffering from low passenger numbers, the station and branch were considered for closure several times. A weekday peak hours-only service survived until closure in 1994, when the cost of replacing the lifts was considered too high compared to the income generated.

Disused parts of the station and the running tunnels were used during both World Wars to shelter artworks from London's public galleries and museums from bombing.

The station has long been popular as a filming location and has appeared as itself and as other London Underground stations in a number of films. In recognition of its historical significance, the station is a Grade II listed building.

 

The Great Northern and Strand Railway (GN&SR) first proposed a station in the Strand area in a private bill presented to Parliament in November 1898.[2] The station was to be the southern terminus of an underground railway line planned to run from Wood Green station (now Alexandra Palace) via Finsbury Park and King's Cross and was originally to be located at the corner of Stanhope Street and Holles Street, north of the Strand. When the two streets were scheduled for demolition as part of the London County Council's plans for the construction of Kingsway and Aldwych, the GN&SR moved the location to the junction of the two new roads.[3] Royal Assent to the bill was given and the Great Northern and Strand Railway Act 1899 was enacted on 1 August.[4]

In September 1901, the GN&SR was taken over by the Brompton and Piccadilly Circus Railway (B&PCR), which planned to build an underground line from South Kensington to Piccadilly Circus via Knightsbridge. Both were under the control of Charles Yerkes through his Metropolitan District Electric Traction Company and, in June 1902, were transferred to Yerkes' new holding company, the Underground Electric Railways Company of London (UERL).[5] Neither of the railways had carried out any construction, but the UERL obtained permission for new tunnels between Piccadilly Circus and Holborn to connect the two routes. The companies were formally merged as the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway (GNP&BR) following parliamentary approval in November 1902.[6][7][8] Prior to confirmation of the merger, the GN&SR had sought permission to extend its line southwards from the future junction of Kingsway and Aldwych, under Norfolk Street to a new interchange under the Metropolitan District Railway's station at Temple. The extension was rejected following objections from the Duke of Norfolk under whose land the last part of the proposed tunnels would have run.[9]

In 1903, the GNP&BR sought permission for a branch from Piccadilly Circus to run under Leicester Square, Strand, and Fleet Street and into the City of London. The branch would have passed and interchanged with the already approved Strand station,[10] allowing travel on the GNP&BR from Strand in three directions. The deliberations of a Royal Commission on traffic in London prevented parliamentary consideration of the proposal, which was withdrawn.[11]

In 1905, with the Royal Commission's report about to be published, the GNP&BR returned to Parliament with two bills for consideration. The first bill revived the 1903 proposal for a branch from Piccadilly Circus to the City of London, passing and interchanging with Strand station. The second proposed an extension and relocation of Strand station to the junction of Strand and Surrey Street. From there the line was to continue as a single tunnel under the River Thames to Waterloo. The first bill was again delayed and withdrawn. Of the second, only the relocation of Strand station was permitted.

 

The linking of the GN&SR and B&PCR routes meant that the section of the GN&SR south of Holborn became a branch from the main route. The UERL began constructing the main route in July 1902. Progress was rapid, so that it was largely complete by the Autumn of 1906.[13] Construction of the Holborn to Strand section was delayed while the London County Council constructed Kingsway and the tramway subway running beneath it and while the UERL decided how the junction between the main route and the branch would be arranged at Holborn.[14][note 1]

Strand station was built on the site of the Royal Strand Theatre, which had closed on 13 May 1905 and been demolished. Construction of the station began on 21 October 1905,[16] to a design by the UERL's architect Leslie Green in the UERL house style of a two-storey steel-framed building faced with red glazed terracotta blocks, with wide semi-circular windows on the upper floor.[17] The station building is L-shaped, with two façades separated by the building on the corner of Strand and Surrey Street. The Strand façade is narrow with a single semi-circular window above the entrance. The façade in Surrey Street is wider with a separate entrance and exit and a shop unit. In anticipation of a revival of the extension to Waterloo and the City route, the station was built with three circular lift shafts able to accommodate six trapezium-shaped lifts. Only one of the shafts was fitted out, with two lifts.[18] The other two shafts rose from the lower concourse to the basement of the station, but could have been extended upwards into the space of the shop unit when required. A fourth smaller-diameter shaft accommodated an emergency spiral stair.[19]

The platforms are 92 feet 6 inches (28.19 m) below street level and are 250 feet (76 m) long;[16] shorter than the GNP&BR's standard length of 350 feet (110 m).[20] As with other UERL stations, the platform walls were tiled with distinctive patterns, in this case cream and dark green. Only parts of the platform walls were decorated because it was planned to operate the branch with short trains.[16] Due to the reduced lift provision, a second route between the platforms and lifts was never brought into use and was left in an unfinished condition without tiling.

 

The GNP&BR's main route opened on 15 December 1906, but the Strand branch was not opened until 30 November 1907.[22] Initially, shuttle trains operated to Holborn from the eastern platform into the through platform at Holborn. At peak times, an additional train operated alternately in the branch's western tunnel into the bay platform at Holborn. During the first year of operation, a train for theatregoers operated late on Monday to Saturday evenings from Strand through Holborn and northbound to Finsbury Park; this was discontinued in October 1908.[16]

In March 1908, the off-peak shuttle service began to use the western platform at Strand and the through platform at Holborn, crossing between the two branch tunnels south of Holborn. Low usage led to the withdrawal of the second peak-hour shuttle and the eastern tunnel was taken out of use in 1914.[23][24] On 9 May 1915, three of the Underground stations in the area were renamed and Strand station became Aldwych.[22][note 2] Sunday services ended in April 1917 and, in August of the same year, the eastern tunnel and platform at Aldwych and the bay platform at Holborn were formally closed.[25] A German bombing campaign in September 1917 led the disused platform being used as storage for 300 pictures from the National Gallery until December 1918.

 

In October 1922, the ticket office was replaced by a facility in the lifts.[25] Passenger numbers remained low: when the station was one of a number on the network considered for closure in 1929, its annual usage was 1,069,650 and takings were £4,500.[27][note 3] The branch was again considered for closure in 1933, but remained open.[25]

Wartime efficiency measures led to the branch being closed temporarily on 22 September 1940, shortly after the start of The Blitz, and it was partly fitted out by the City of Westminster as an air-raid shelter. The tunnels between Aldwych and Holborn were used to store items from the British Museum, including the Elgin Marbles. The branch reopened on 1 July 1946, but patronage did not increase.[28] In 1958, the station was one of three that London Transport announced would be closed. Again it survived, but the service was reduced in June 1958 to run only during Monday to Friday peak hours and Saturday morning and early afternoons.[29][note 4] The Saturday service was withdrawn in June 1962.[29]

  

Shelterers inside Aldwych station during the Blitz, 1940.

 

After operating only during peak hours for more than 30 years, the closure announcement came on 4 January 1993. The original 1907 lifts required replacement at a cost of £3 million. This was not justifiable as only 450 passengers used the station each day and it was losing London Regional Transport £150,000 per year. The Secretary of State for Transport granted permission on 1 September 1994 to close the station and the branch closed on 30 September.

 

Although the Piccadilly Circus to City of London branch proposal of 1905 was never revisited after its withdrawal, the early plan to extend the branch south to Waterloo was revived a number of times during the station's life. The extension was considered in 1919 and 1948, but no progress towards constructing the link was made.[28]

In the years after the Second World War, a series of preliminary plans for relieving congestion on the London Underground had considered various east-west routes through the Aldwych area, although other priorities meant that these were never proceeded with. In March 1965, a British Rail and London Transport joint planning committee published "A Railway Plan for London" which proposed a new tube railway, the Fleet line (later renamed the Jubilee line), to join the Bakerloo line at Baker Street then run via Bond Street, Green Park, Charing Cross, Aldwych and into the City of London via Ludgate Circus, Cannon Street and Fenchurch Street before heading into south-east London. An interchange was proposed at Aldwych and a second recommendation of the report was the revival of the link from Aldwych to Waterloo.[31][32] London Transport had already sought parliamentary approval to construct tunnels from Aldwych to Waterloo in November 1964,[33] and in August 1965, parliamentary powers were granted. Detailed planning took place, although public spending cuts led to postponement of the scheme in 1967 before tenders were invited.[29]

Planning of the Fleet line continued and parliamentary approval was given in July 1969 for the first phase of the line, from Baker Street to Charing Cross.[34] Tunnelling began on the £35 million route in February 1972 and the Jubilee line opened north from Charing Cross in May 1979.[35] The tunnels of the approved section continued east of Charing Cross under Strand almost as far as Aldwych station, but no work at Aldwych was undertaken and they were used only as sidings.[36] Funding for the second phase of the work was delayed throughout the 1970s whilst the route beyond Charing Cross was reviewed to consider options for serving anticipated development in the London Docklands area. By 1979, the cost was estimated as £325 million, a six-fold increase from the £51 million estimated in 1970.[37] A further review of alternatives for the Jubilee line was carried out in 1980, which led to the a change of priorities and the postponement of any further effort on the line.[38] When the extension was eventually constructed in the late 1990s it took a different route, south of the River Thames via Westminster, Waterloo and London Bridge to provide a rapid link to Canary Wharf, leaving the tunnels between Green Park and Aldwych redundant.[39]

In July 2005, Ove Arup & Partners produced a report, DLR Horizon 2020 Study, for the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) examining "pragmatic development schemes" to expand and improve the DLR network between 2012 and 2020. One of the proposals was an extension of the DLR from Bank to Charing Cross via City Thameslink and Aldwych. The disused Jubilee line tunnels would be enlarged to accommodate the larger DLR trains and Aldwych station would form the basis for a new station on the line, although requiring considerable reconstruction to accommodate escalators. The estimated cost in 2005 was £232 million for the infrastructure works and the scheme was described as "strongly beneficial" as it was expected to attract passengers from the London Underground's existing east-west routes and from local buses and reduce overcrowding at Bank station. The business case assessment was that the proposal offered high value, although similar values were calculated for other exten