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“Every Saint has a Past, Every Sinner a Future”

Marilyn Wisbey

My father played a part in the biggest robbery, in 1963. A moving train was held up and 2 and a half million pounds was taken in cash, was on its way to be burnt, 16 robbers were caught after, and Mr Big remains free. No one was killed, they just used coshes, although driver Mills had a slight cut on his head.

My father along with another robber, gave driver Mills a cup of tea, and bandaged his head but he passed away 7 years later. Many officials, and the media trumped this up, to say the driver was so badly traumatised from this that he got cancer, but my mother campaigned over the worst sentences they received of thirty years – and they missed hanging by 2 years, as it was against the state. My argument has always been, whose pockets was it going into, as it was untraceable, although it’s never been answered!

Schooling for both my sister and I, of 15 months difference in age, was always a little bit traumatised. While the teacher was reading the newspapers to the class – “Train robbers escape!” – all the children would turn round and giggle and look at me. I loved music, singing in the school choir, I played the violin, loved art, and cooking and reading.

My writing was very good, in fact, prior to this happening, I got all the kids from the block of flats and decided to do a musical aged eight, both Racheal Rumbol, my sister and I raised ten shillings, towards Dr Barnados Children’s homes in 1963 (that was quite a lot of money then!)

I ended up working in Selfridges as a senior sales consultant, aged 18, that was where I met my son’s dad which took away the heavy duty depression, which I use to get in whirlwinds – dark mood swings that lead me to drink, as I loved a party or dancing!

At 21, I went to the States which opened my eyes to the other side of life. I always said I would go back. But life goes on. For a time I ran a pub for my mother in the 80’s, before I had a conviction. Here, I placed ads in the newspaper and later found out that most of my staff were ex-offenders. We paid well, they did not thieve off us, we gave them a good wage, much more than the minimum wage! That’s why they loved working their shifts, and always turned up, without being ill, they were reliable, they enjoyed the atmosphere. I believe this or any other Government has to push up the minimum wage to at least £12 an hour, as even professional workers are struggling with their bills.

They spend so much sending people to the moon, and spend far too much on armoury for wars. Let’s get our own people employed, in homes, with proper causes, and stop the greed with corporations that are taking advantage of low paid workers, in this country. This is a first world country, not a third world country!

Being out of work, trying for work at 42 years old, and not getting replies back, feeling worthless, the desperation of going to the Job Centre, even to the point of getting a Christmas job, delivering the Royal Mail.

I had not had a conviction, only for a driving offence, 21 people got work that year, except me, the man said he couldn’t believe it. I leaned over and said “You don’t think it’s because my father robbed the train in 1963, do you?” He said “No, you have a clean CRB.” Or was it age discrimination?

Looking back, I could have taken them to court, see studying law was not my forte. Eventually my drinking turned into drug taking, and I got in a relationship that was violent, a down hill battle.

I can truly say drink and drugs do take away the time, and pain of issues, that you have to face.
More drinking led to my bills not getting paid, wrong judgement on friends, until, a relationship you thought was okay, turned into a controlling, abusive relationship, with me being cut on my left ear.

I never had him charged, and eventually, I managed to leave. But still not in my right head, got involved with some drug dealers, who I owed money to. To pay them back, I decided to take a chance, with fraud, to get my ticket away from being jobless, it never happened, it was my cry for help.

Nicked, with a tag round my ankle, with a big notice on my door not to go out after 7pm-7am, that was then I knew I had to get myself together…

My mum was not well at all and I was a part-time addict, but was not a red faced old lady with a can in her hand. A decent lunch, tea and coffees proved very helpful.

How on earth does any government expect a jobless person, prison leaver, homeless person or a human being on a very low income, to get back their lives and pay bills, (that’s if their lucky enough to have a roof over their heads)?
But I did have the help of a good probation officer. I did ask questions and showed her I was willing to learn, whilst under her wing, which looking back, I still believe, is not for everyone. The support should start from the Job Centre and Social Security, for those people that are heading the benders of drink and drug issues.

I engaged in support groups, with “Women in Prison” and did a screen writing course, which was very basic but good. I got nothing from a Probation service organization.

Then there was a place in Great Portland Street where the staff were excellent, but I could tell, it was a window dressing course (cheap and cheerful). This is where they all fall down, instead of giving the people the right further education, in progressing forward, most of the courses are just plain, uncredited courses.

However I then went to another place for drama, which was a bit better. What really did help me was a charity that did help ex-offenders with some small investment. They gave me a small notebook for my writing, Malcolm the advisor understood my plight, my age, and issues and knew I had written a book. They asked me what I wanted, I said I want to help others, that I have creative brains, and am interested in singing.

At the time, I was so upset about a girl contestant called Rachel, who entered the X-Factor, and the media leaked it out that she had been a ex-offender.

This was a disgrace! I don’t have to explain, because I know most of you will agree with me, that, society does have to change its attitudes. We are not going to change 60% of ex-offenders, but the 40% who are willing should really have that extra support, within the arts, I mean not just using paint and a paint brush, but music technology – proper courses.

So now I’ve just recorded a song called “Gone on ahead” wrote by an old friend called Billy Brindle, a mature man who grew up without a father. He could not read or write, yet has wrote many good songs.

He found a young blind girl, Hayley aged 14 years, and she ended up on Children In Need on BBC plus then went to the States for the Country and Western, over in Nashville.

As I researched his talent of songs, it came to me that with my other plan, in mind for January next year, I have found a new venture. My plan is for a talent show and I’m willing to take on voluntary workers, or entries and would be available to advise the route to go down on the straight and narrow.

My song has only been up a few weeks and it has 200 hits, so far, on I have been invited to sing for the Amy Winehouse foundation over in Belgium which I’m looking forward to. It’s a fashion show… So things are finally looking up!

You can buy Marilyn’s book, Gangster’s Moll on Amazon, here or to volunteer to work with Marilyn on one of her projects email Also, check out Marilyn’s song on Youtube, here.

Taken from Issue 15

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