Monday, February 27, 2006
The Tonbridge Robbers Are Guilty Of Bringing Balaclava Helmets Into Disrepute, And Deserve To Be Betrayed By Their Dandruff
For some time I have been irritated by the tone of coverage afforded to the Tonbridge bank robbery. When it was first reported, this criminal act was breathily described by television news reporters as "audacious". It was also called a "heist"; a word more usually encountered in police dramas, and one which prompts fond memories of bad lads in camel coats being apprehended by Mr Gordon Jackson in The Professionals. Both Channel 4 News and Newsnight gave airtime to a former bank robber, who - while adding nothing intelligent to the debate - expressed his hope that the thieves would get away with their crime, which was, according to every expert, a work conducted by a criminal gang of considerable sophistication.
Now, it seems, the robbers are bunglers, who have left a stream of clues behind them. Not the least of these clues are the abandoned balaclava helmets, which are thought likely to be festering with criminal DNA. According to some reports, the identities of the criminals may be betrayed by their dandruff.
If so, let it be soon. In the meantime, I hope this experience will do something to discourage the wearing of balaclavas in criminal endeavours. For too long, the jaggy woollen helmet of childhood has been appropriated by terrorists, rapists, skiers and thugs of every variety, leaving the heads of youngsters exposed to the elements or - worse - clad in the checked crown of the ned, the Burberry baseball cap.
Reports that the Tonbridge gang had their mittens attached by elastic to the sleeves of their duffel coats have yet to be subtantiated.