Back in London, I met my present husband in 1989. We decided to live in Australia. Although I could get casual work in catering, my new husband found doors shut. We jumped at the chance of running a pub together in a country town. The Park Hotel boasted three busy bars, a drive-through bottle shop and a restaurant. Over the period of a year, local conditions caused a loss of business and we were out of work again. Rather than continue in the declining economy of those times, we came back to England.
The hold-up occurred during a quiet period in a small shop in the East End. I looked up to find a customer with a gun. The manager flashed me a nervous look.
The man said, "Give me all your money. I said ALL your money." Those words are stained on my memory.
After the manager's nod to comply, I hastened to scoop the change from the cash register into a cloth sack while the manager handed over notes from another position. I didn't feel fear, and remained calm during the two minutes the robber remained in the shop.
After he left, we sagged. The manager rang the police, who arrived within minutes. They said we did the right thing by complying with the thief's wishes.
Our employers treated us to a drink at the pub and gave us the rest of the day off. Those words rang in my head while I drifted off to sleep. I recalled the cold look in the gunman's eyes and his instructions for weeks. However, the episode didn't warp my outlook. There are good and bad situations wherever you go.
I was 47 years old and I wasn't meant to die that day. Twenty three years later, I'm still walking, although I'm more likely to be pushing a rollator than a stroller.