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Two women robbed playwright Alan Bennett of £1,500 in London


English playwright Alan Bennett has talked about his experience of losing £1,500 in a pickpocket scam, which left him ‘less ready to believe in the kindness of strangers’.

The 76-year-old fell victim to two women, suspected to be Romanian, who posed as ‘Good Samaritans’.

The writer of The History Boys said the encounter left him wary of offering to help strangers in trouble.

The women approached the pensioner in Marks & Spencer in Camden Town and said he had ice cream down his back and offered to clean it.

They said it had dripped everywhere and convinced him to remove his jacket, which contained £1,500 he had just taken out of the bank.  When he returned to his car he realised the money had gone.

Writing in the London Review of Books (LRB) he said:  ‘They very kindly helped me to clean it up with tissues from one of their handbags and another man, English, I think, big and in his fifties, goes away and comes back with more tissues.’

‘The ice-cream (coffee-flavoured) seems to have got everywhere and they keep finding fresh smears of it so that I take my jacket off too to clean it up. No more being found, I put my jacket on again, thanking the women profusely, though they brush off my gratitude and abruptly disappear.’

‘I go back to the car, thinking how good it is that there are still people who, though total strangers, can be so selflessly helpful.  It’s only when I’m about to get into the car that I remember the money, look in my inside pocket to find, of course, that the envelope has gone.’

Bennett didn’t talk about his experience at the time but has since told the story in his annual LRB diary.

You can read the full story in The Independent.

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