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I Didn't Belong: Chapter Eight - Back With Mum

Young Ronnie Cook and another lad stole a JCB with the intention of using it to try and knock down a new police station. Despite being punished for this offence, further burglaries and robberies follow on. And now Ronnie is taking drugs...

Ronnie's inspirational and highly-readable book I Didn't Belong, which charts his progress from a life of crime to salvation, is obtainable from amazon.co.uk Type the title in the Amazon search box.

The next crime I committed a
short while later, after another lad and I had
absconded, was to steal a JCB from near to one of
parks in Doncaster. Along with one of the other
children, our intention was to attempt to knock
down the new police station in Doncaster, but we
managed to crash the vehicle so, we ran off and
went back to the Home to face the music for going
out without permission and we were duly sent to
bed until they could decide on a punishment.

The next day we heard what our punishment would be,
which was moving the coke from one end of the
yard to the boiler house on the following weekend,
which we were already due to do anyway. So much
for punishment.

This attitude of mine was, I am sure, my
biggest downfall, as at my new school I was doing
very well in fact at one time. This was probably due
to the fact that someone noticed I needed to wear
spectacles The headmaster asked me to write an
essay about James Cook, so I found a book read
about him and wrote him an essay. I must admit I

Shortly afterwards I was asked if I would
like to go to the local Grammar School. This I
declined, as I didnít want to start afresh with the
prejudice. Instead I decided it best if I stayed
where I was and sorted it out myself by fighting the
ones that were picking on me, as no one else would
listen or do anything about it - and I mean no one. I
seemed to be on my own still.

I suppose if I had
been born to a normal family, I would have been
accepted but I didnít even know how to play with
other children and when I tried I was always told
get lost Paki or Gypo.

At one time I found out there
were going to be football trials for Doncaster
Rovers held in our school by Laurie McMenemy, the
then manager, but he told me to leave as he didnít
want the likes of me on the football pitch. Now that
was a great boost to my ego! To me he became just
another foreigner that had learned to climb over a
wall for an easier life.

I did, however, do well at
music playing the clarinet. I was kicked out of
French classes, as I didnít answer the French
teacher in French when he spoke to me. Well it was
my first lesson, so what did he expect? Oddly
enough, his name was Mr French.

When I was thirteen, I was told my brother
Vincent and I could go to live with my mother as
she was out of hospital. To us she was just another
woman we had not seen for a long time.
Eventually we got to know her again and she was
just as loving, but Vincent and I were drawing
further and further apart.

He did what he wanted, and I
did what I wanted with the odd exception for
burglaries. In those days there wasnít anything like
after-care back up. If there was, it never came to our
door so we were literally left to our own devices
with a woman who was pumped full of what I feel
was a lot of unnecessary drugs.

Then she met a
bloke called Norman Biggs. What an ass. He was to
us at the time some sort of retard; it turned out that
he had spent most of his life in various mental
institutions, and that is where he met my mother.
We kept our thoughts to ourselves as we thought
we would be sent back to the Home. He was, it
seemed to us, a decent bloke a hard worker and a
good provider to my mother. But us, we werenít his,
so we were a bi-product. In the end he tried to get
Mum to kick us out, but she stuck up for us.

In the meantime I used to go out pinching cars driving to
places like Sheffield, Leeds, Barnsley and
Rotherham, where I used to go and do the odd
robbery, a few commercial burglaries or street
robberies - usually queer or Paki bashing.

In the end my mum suggested it might help her
if we took on his name as it could serve two
purposes, take away the stigma of our name and
appease old Norman. Well. could you imagine the
first thought I had - 'Ronald Biggs'! Now that would
surely make me more acceptable. I think not!
Could you imagine what would happen if I were to
be arrested and put in gaol, the name Charles
Bronson comes to my mind. They would bury me in
the system as they have done with him for thinking
I was clever and trying to be a Mister Big.

Which brings to mind my older brother Frank. Years ago
in towns like Doncaster they used to have a Lord
Mayor's parade. On this one occasion they decided
to have a big to do, the Lord Mayor from one end of
town, and to celebrate the new multi-million pound
police station they had the police parading from the

Well! Our Frank had organized a robbery
along the high street; I had to watch, as it had to
be a good laugh! Our Frank and his mate pulled up
outside the building society. Frank jumped out of
the car and ran into the place brandishing a shotgun.
As he went charging in, the Lord Mayor and his
entourage came walking round the corner of the
high street with the police marching from the other
end in full regalia, so the driver did a runner with
the car and our Frank the Plank came running out
with a bundle of money straight into the arms of
police and all the dignitaries of Doncaster Town
Council. The funny thing is Frank still blames his
mate for driving off as the reason he was caught.
Admittedly it would have been a daring robbery if
he had got away with it but, I mean, what on earth
was he thinking?

It was around this time I had given up any
thoughts of school and carried on with my life. I
went out of control. Perhaps if there were any kind
of support for my mum after leaving hospital or
myself after coming out of care, things may have
been different. Perhaps they werenít aware of the
crisis we were in, or they could have justified their
income. Eventually it came to be that Norman had
been hitting our mum. One morning she had a black
eye and said she had walked into a door. What a
load of rubbish!

So I found our Frank on one of his
short breaks from jail and told him about it. We went
to Mum's House waited for Norman to come home
from work and literally beat him to a pulp, threw
him into the passageway and left him to die. We
havenít seen him since, and we have no idea of what
happened to him.

It was around this time I realised
that through having to survive at an early age I
soon became an adult well before my time and
lived life appropriately. It was around this time I
started to go to the Top Rank at night then to the
other nightclubs and pubs in the Doncaster area. I
must have been really getting out of order, as one
night some blokes I had had a fight with a few days
before waited outside the nightclub, attacked me
and tried to cut my throat. Fortunately for me they
cut too low, but I still remember it. Each time I get a
shave I can see the scar.

I became interested in
Northern Soul music it was great! I actually found a
group of people that accepted me as one of them.
So I started to go to the all-nighters at Wigan,
Blackpool, Stoke (twisted wheel), Canvey Island,
Cleethorpes, etc. dancing to such tracks as Sidney
Barnes's 'I hurt on the other side' or Bobby Taylor
and the Vancouvers' 'Find my way back'.

But along with this there were the drugs I found myself
using more and more - whiz (amphetamine) and a
variety of other drugs to keep me going. I did work
of varying nature but found I needed more money,
so burglaries and robberies became my source of
income. Eventually, I was arrested for the burglary
of a market stall for £143.00 on a Saturday night - a
night when I can prove where I was, as I was in fact on
the town in Scunthorpe committing a burglary at
the time. This was of no use to me at all as they
had somehow found my fingerprints all over the
stall, but as I came from a Gypsy background along
with my brothers we werenít to be believed.

I went to magistrateís court the next morning and was
sentenced to three months Detention Centre. I still
feel that I was given such treatment due to the
antics of our Frank and my dad, as they say 'like
father like son', plus there was a policeman that
used to be friendly with my Mum before my dad got
his hands on her. I know this as he actually came
to my cell once and said, ďTo think I could have
been your dad, it sickens me to think it Ē.


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