The insanely elaborate nature of the heist – coupled with the fact that its architects appeared to have got away scot-free, despite having set off a silent alarm halfway through – led a lot of people who ought really to have known better to feel a pang of admiration for this rag-tag band of “bad grandpas” (Daily Mail) who would have pulled off a seemingly brilliant plot against all the odds and without recourse to violence. Within hours of the first reports there was already talk of a film, with Michael Caine said to be interested (isn’t he always, though?), and the man who took over the lease of 88-90 Hatton Garden earlier this year has declared his intention to have the hole in the wall through which the robbers gained entry re-drilled, with a view to building a themed restaurant around it.
Now, call me an old fuddy-duddy but I can’t help thinking that there is not much to admire here. Yes, the raid was audacious – but so are a lot of murders and sexual assaults. Audacity is not, in itself, a virtue. And was it really bravery that made them go back and try again on the Saturday after failing and going home on the Friday, or just a rather more humdrum mixture of overweening greed and extreme stupidity? I’d certainly have to say that even I, green as I am, would not be thick enough to hold all my robbery-planning meetings in a pub and then argue about how to divvy up the takings in a small pavement cafe. As for the whole no-violence thing, we have no way of knowing whether that was a deliberate policy or just the way things turned out. If someone had interrupted them – not the police but a perfectly innocent civilian like, say the one train driver Ronnie Biggs coshed in 1963 – the outcome might have been very different. Word does have it that one or two of these “grandpas” were a bit tasty back in the day.
But even if none of that were true, I still wouldn’t identify too strenuously with the Hatton Garden robbers – or, indeed, any criminals. In many, if not most cases, they were only able to become criminals because they felt no empathy for their victims, so professing to have empathy with them actually just demonstrates how different you are. Why not celebrate that, instead of pretending to have some sort of
affinity with people who would do you over without a second thought? It can be a fine thing to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, but not if they’re only going to make off with yours.
• Isn’t it about time we started giving out an ironic award – à la the film industry’s “Razzies” – for the most offensively meaningless company name of the year? Boomf, Shpock, Deezer, Carwow (my spellcheck is going nuts!); we have seen the emergence of so many plucky, young contenders for this crown in the last few months alone that old faithfuls like Giffgaff and Boohoo.com are beginning to look achingly retro by comparison.
The reason for all these unconnected syllable pile-ups is apparently that it is no longer possible to buy a “.com” web address which actually means anything (unless you are prepared to fork over huge
amounts of your start-up lettuce to whichever jammy git had the foresight to nab it back in the days when the internet was still ruled by chess club alumni), but it seems likely that these companies are also dreaming of one day becoming a verb – as in “to Google”.
Sadly, though, their inane sobriquets will more likely work against their becoming globally recognised internet sensations, because even if prospective customers manage to retain these un-words for longer than ten seconds (hey, was that “boof” or “boomf”?), it isn’t always obvious how you are meant to spell them (was there a “p” in “boom(p)f”?). And if things are this weird now, what are they going to be like when all the nonsensical-yet-vaguely-pertinent-sounding two-syllable web domain names have been taken as well? Don’t come crying to
me if you end up having to buy all your food from a shop called “ng”…
• Speaking of stupid names, it turns out that one in seven Britons now owns a Fitbit – the revolutionary gadget which “helps you stay motivated” by teaching you to despise your own weakness. So it’s
a safe bet that one in seven British eBay pages will soon have one, too.