The train robber

In Rio de Janeiro, whilst occupied with The Little Theatre, the American expatriate group, I had a few contacts with The Players, the British counterpart. It was all very friendly, each side viewing the other’s plays and auditioning, as well. I recall their hilarious production, whose title I forget, but it was a film first made in the UK. It’s the sort of job that only the Brits can do so well, as the backstage crew tries to maintain silence while the play is in progress in front. The near misses and saves made us, the audience, roar.

But then the name of Ronnie Biggs, the notorious British train robber, taking refuge in Brazil, began to circulate amongst the expatriates. I was invited to a party featuring Biggs, and I did not go. I did not think meeting him was some sort of cachet. He and his gang had caused a death. The English-language Brazil Herald went on about him and his new Brazilian wife and child as if he were local color and nothing more. As a matter of fact, Brazil was haven for quite a few criminals, among them Nazi fugitives, one of whom lived next door to us.

Eventually, as the media would have it, Biggs returned to England, giving himself up because he was homesick. Now this sounds even more weird. He was homesick, so he went to prison in England, where he died last month. His funeral was conducted as though for a folk hero.

A vast number of our Earth’s population seems to have its values skewed, viewed through electronic devices as mere antics like Sesame Street. This sickness of thought is growing, a disconnect that is every bit as dangerous as crossing the street without looking up from texting.


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