During the summer months, I would often walk through the local park next to the river on my way to Peddler’s Point nearRichmond Bridge. Here I rented a small riverfront workshop in between the Water Gallery and Richmond Bridge Boathouse. It was a friendly, picturesque workplace, with a wonderful view of the Thames. When business was slow, I enjoyed relaxing in a deck chair with a pint of Guinness, viewing activity and boats on the river. But quaint surroundings, the inquisitive hum of tourists, or debating students sunbathing on the terraced hill close by, never distracted me from noticing a wealthy resident. Usually an attractive older lady with an Ascot hat, many of whom I recognised from earlier reconnaissance stints in the area.
As always in those early days, life, in all of its glorious beautifulness and total bastardness, presented its fair share of hardship. But I did what I could to survive back then. Some may have called me a Mod, and I had the appearance to prove it, as well a decked out off-white Lambretta. At work though, I dressed like a proper businessman, in a blue shirt and jeans. Some days I even wore a necktie, a two-toned waistcoat and a trilby. Hardly overstated, but it did instil confidence in many of my customers, who would sometimes even praise my seemingly guiltless attire.
Thus, my livelihood in those days was mainly selling reinforced hinges, window-bars, and locks, to lockless locals. A profession with a vague similarity to Robin Hood’s alleged occupation once upon a time. So far so good, we often thought I recall. You see … we were a few mates who made certain that the locals realised the advantage of taking preventive measures against criminal deeds. Therefore a constant demand for increasingly sturdy locks, and reinforced extras shortly arose. Indeed the business boomed, and soon every lock, window, and cranny in town, was so well protected that it had become practically impossible to break back in. The business failed eventually for this reason. Need I say we forgot that we had keys to all the locks that had recently been installed in the aria. But, being the dimwits we were, we had already thrown them in theThames, and so merrily reverted back to the incomparable excitement of genuine burglary, after acquiring an unusually rigid set of new tools.
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