Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Ronnie Biggs: Anti-Hero?

He was something of an anti-hero, a Ned Kelly/Dick Turpin figure who has entered British folklore. As he says himself, he was not a criminal~he never killed anyone~just a crook who got lucky. I can think of a few who would hop on the next plane to Brazil if they could. The trouble today is that the technology to track people down is better now than it was then. Neither was he the mastermind behind The Great Train Robbery~just one of the also-rans who went along for the ride. What added to the legend was his escape from jail and to Brazil, where he flaunted his life of Riley in the faces of the British authorities. He certainly didn't need to be given such a heavy sentence, particularly as cold-blooded murderers can be out on the streets, nowadays, after just ten years.

What's curious is that I'm currently involved with a story about a man who, having been taunted once too often by his enemies and unable to find justice in the conventional way, bumps one of them off in the most hilarious fashion and, aided by a policeman lover, escapes with him to a place where he can't be found! I love it when art replicates fact!

Ronnie Biggs dead: Most memorable quotes of Great Train Robber while on the run

Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs escaped from prison in 1965 and spent 36 years on the run before finally being arrested and jailed in 2001.

His escape and high-profile life in Rio de Janeiro brought him the sort of worldwide notoriety in which he seemed to revel.

Newspaper interviews, an autobiography and even a novelty record with the Sex Pistols kept him firmly in the limelight throughout the '70, '80s and '90s.

Here's a collection of his most memorable quotes while on the run:

"One report said that since my time on the run I've had 2,500 girlfriends. I mean you got to realise, I've been on the run for more than 30 years, I have got to have had more than that."

"There's a difference between criminals and crooks. Crooks steal. Criminals blow some guy's brains out. I'm a crook."

"It has been rumoured that I was the brains of the robbery, but that was totally incorrect. I've been described as the tea boy, which is also incorrect."

"I won a scholarship with the Brixton School of Building. I screwed around, not putting in a proper attendance."

"I used to have a list of things from my school buddies of what kind of art material they wanted. I'd go up to the West End of London and spend the whole day knocking stuff off."

"I don't have any intentions to return to England. I would go back if I could return as a free person. I don't want to return to prison."

"I am no longer a criminal. I gave up that practice years ago." 

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