When one door closes another one opens, or so my father used to say. I’m not so sure about that. Yesterday, a judge sentenced me to 10 years for using a mobile phone!

Let me explain. Coming up to Christmas, last year, the boss (who shall remain nameless) he says to me, “Butch, I have a big job lined up for Tuesday, and I want you to drive the getaway car.” He calls me Butch. My name’s Damien. Anyways, I says, “What’s the job, Boss?” And he says, “That’s need to know, and you don’t need to know. Just make sure you have the Mondeo fuelled up and ready to go outside the Bradford and Bingley Building Society, Main Street fifteen minutes before closing time on Tuesday. Keep the engine running and be ready to make a quick exit when the lads arrive.” It’s not a standard Mondeo, in case you were wondering. This one has been Modified with a capital Vroom.

I started to put two and two together at that stage. Didn’t take a genius to work out what was going down.

Marylin and the kid were getting excited about Christmas. She was expecting something special, and I had something in mind. Damien junior, had his heart set on a scooter. I couldn’t see the point of it, myself, but I had the thing bought and wrapped and hidden in the garden shed ready for the big day. Marylin had promised to get me something special, too, but she wouldn’t tell me what.

Anyway, Tuesday, December 19, there I was parked in a line of cars outside the Bradford and Bingley. Fifteen minutes before closing time, the Mondeo’s engine was running and so was mine. I’d put an ‘out of service’ paper bag over the parking meter. No point wasting money. I had the radio on, trying to chill to the music, when I got the shock of my life. The Rolling Stones were belting out Ruby Tuesday – for Tuesday, I suppose – when I spotted Marylin and the kid striding up Main Street. At first, I thought maybe they’d spotted the car and wanted to talk to me, but when they reached the building society, they went inside. I knew the lads would be along within seconds. This could get really nasty, I thought.

I did the only thing I could. I turned the engine off, left the car and followed Marylin and D. Jr into the building society. They spotted me straightaway. “Outside, quick,” I said. The message they got from the look on my face must have fallen short. They stayed where they were in the queue. I thumbed 999 on my phone. Two minutes later, the lads arrived, all masked and tooled up. “Everybody on the ground,” they shouted, waving their guns about. Marylin, me and the kid hit the deck.

It took ten minutes for the cashiers to empty the tills. Luckily, none of the lads recognised me. I kept my face firmly glued to the carpet. As they ran outside with four sacks full of cash, the cops arrived, sirens blaring. The lads found the car abandoned, the doors locked. I had the keys in my pocket.

The lads were spitting nails. I can’t be sure which one shopped me; probably all three.

(C) Copyright JJ Toner