- The Autobiography of a Thief by Bruce Reynolds
Bantam, 320 pp, £15.99, April 1995, ISBN 0 593 03779 0
A robber is a bandit, an outlaw, a desperado. A thief is a tea-leaf. A robber ends up at the Old Bailey – the London Palladium of the nation’s courts – and gets a ten stretch. A thief appears before the beak at Old Street magistrate’s court and gets three months. A robber takes the girlfriend off to Longchamp for the weekend. A thief goes home to the wife in Up-minster. So why did Bruce Reynolds, a main player in this country’s robbery of the century, choose to call his book The Autobiography of a Thief ?
Vol. 17 No. 23 · 30 November 1995
From Boris Ford
Duncan Campbell’s review of The Autobiography of a Thief (LRB, 19 October) convinces me that it must have been Bruce Reynolds who delivered one of the great utterances of the 20th century, one that should not be lost to posterity. He was being interviewed on Radio 4 about the possibilty of Biggs returning to England and was asked what people like Biggs and himself hoped to get out of big robberies. ‘Well,’ he replied in a gravelly voice and accent that made him seem a rough toff, ‘for myself I always hoped it would bring me my Nirvana. But when we brought off the Great Train Robbery, I knew that this was going to be not only my Nirvana, but my Sistine Chapel!’