Colin’s mates said he was the best getaway driver around and he liked to think they were right. “It’s about being prepared,” he told them.
He scoped out every job for weeks, running journeys at all times of the day and night. He knew bus timetables better than bus drivers did. He learned back streets and side alleys, escape routes and places to avoid. That’s what made him the best. That’s what made him so in demand.
Colin also knew his cars. Anyone planning a job came to him first and set him the task of finding the motor that would get them all away afterwards. He’d usually gone for sporty but older. In this area anything newer than a 55 plate stood out and even admiring attention was a total no-no on these jobs.
His favourite was when he had to get a few vehicles, the sort the others could arrive in and cause a diversion or a hold up. He’d done white vans with fake plumbers details painted on a few times. Once there was a Post Office van, complete with mail bags and postie on a bike. Colin’s proudest moment was when that police car had pulled up and the gang had taken a bit of convincing it was his, not the real Old Bill.
It was on regular car journeys that Colin wasn’t so good. His wife took over looking after their Escort after it ran out of petrol for a third time, on the roundabout at the top end of Ipswich High Street. Although Linda reminded him regularly that the engine was making a funny noise and had almost cut out on a hill start, Colin never quite got the servicing sorted out.
The gang decided on a barbeque in the sunshine to discuss last minute details, so Colin planned to drop Linda at her mother’s house for her afternoon visit, then make his escape. His mother-in-law was sat in a deckchair on the front lawn and waved as they drove up. He ushered Linda out, sticking the car in first gear. In his side mirror he could see the old lady get up and start walking down the path. As he tried to drive off, the engine choked and stalled. He turned the key repeatedly, trying to spark the Ford into life whilst Linda’s mother bore down on him.
“I haven’t seen you for so long, Colin dear,” she said. She opened his car door and pulling his arm said, “Come on in just for a little chat. I have some of that cake you like.” With the car still refusing to move, Colin had little choice. It took 2 hours of Battenberg before the recovery people got there. It was another hour before they’d towed him to a garage and he could go to meet the guys. When he arrived, the coals had gone cold and there was only warm beer left.
And so it was on a hot afternoon in June that Colin was taught the importance of giving as much attention to your wife’s nags as to your gang’s blueprints, by an elderly lady and no sausages.