Sunday 4 December 2016

Kim, me, Johnny Depp and a killer's Magnum

Kim shouldn't live her life in fear after her robbery ordeal, says Victoria Mary Clarke, who was mugged five times herself

Victoria Mary Clarke

Published 09/10/2016 | 02:30

Flaunting: Kim Kardashian had millions of dollars worth of jewellery stolen from her when she was held at gunpoint during Paris Fashion Week last week Photo: Ian West/PA Wire
Flaunting: Kim Kardashian had millions of dollars worth of jewellery stolen from her when she was held at gunpoint during Paris Fashion Week last week Photo: Ian West/PA Wire

On Monday, Kim Kardashian was mugged in Paris. There has been an alarming lack of sympathy for Kim, based on the fact that she 'flaunted' her diamonds on social media, and tempted the burglars. Which makes me wonder what people would say had she been raped.

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Whether you own 10 million quids worth of diamonds or no diamonds, getting mugged can shock you to the very core. I speak from experience, having been mugged five times myself.

The first time it happened, I was a teenager walking home in Hoxton, East London. These days in Hoxton, you can't move for hipster baristas with beards on skateboards, but when I lived there it was still a working-class neighbourhood where you could get jellied eels served in a way that was not ironic.

It was in the spring, and it was very bright. I did not pay any attention to the young black man who was following me and I didn't register him sprinting up the stairs ahead of me. It was only when he jumped out at me with a knife that I realised what was happening.

I amazed myself by biting his hand very hard and then screaming my head off when he had dropped the knife. He ran away without having got my bag.

The next time it happened, I was sitting outside a restaurant in Islington when a man gave me a shove, grabbed my bag and was off down the street before I had time to see what he looked like.

Another time, myself and a friend were walking down the river to what was then the Point Depot in Dublin, on our way to a Pogues gig. As we passed the corner of Sheriff Street, four boys jumped out at us, pulling at our bag straps. We both had plastic carrier bags full of hardback books, and we swung at their heads and hit them hard. We were proud of ourselves when they ran away.

The fourth time that I got mugged was the most dramatic. It was early evening on Melrose Avenue in LA, which if you don't know it is a pretty posh neighbourhood.

Flaunting: Johnny Depp came to Victoria Mary Clarke’s aid when a would-be mugger
pointed a gun at her in LA Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA
Flaunting: Johnny Depp came to Victoria Mary Clarke’s aid when a would-be mugger pointed a gun at her in LA Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA

My friend Stephanie and I were at the door of her house when a young Latino man appeared at the gate, pointed a Magnum at me, and said 'Give me your purse, lady'. My first reaction was to laugh. My second reaction was to start screaming very loudly. Stephanie didn't want to give him her bag because she had just got her smog certificate, so we took a chance and we ran into the house.

I rang Johnny Depp, who told me to stay in the house with the doors locked, and he would come and get us. As Johnny handed me a cigarette and lit it for me, I distinctly remember thinking how exceptionally hot he was, and how cool I was having him to rescue me. Later, the cops told us that we should have given the guy our purses because he had just killed someone around the corner.

The last time was in the car park at Heuston Station, a few years ago. A woman came over to the car and signalled for me to roll down the window. Then she pulled out a syringe and told me she would give me Aids if I didn't come with her to the cash point and empty my account. Somehow I fooled her by giving her my card and a made up Pin and I got away.

On only one occasion did I actually lose a bag. Every other time I amazed myself by biting, screaming, kicking and refusing to get robbed. But you don't just get robbed of material things when you get mugged. You start to be afraid to walk around by yourself, you start to be suspicious of people, you lock the car doors when you are in rough neighbourhoods, you lose your innocence and your sense of the world as a nice place to live in.

My partner Shane MacGowan and I made a chat show in which he and Johnny and a collection of our LA friends talked about guns and violence in their lives. Almost everyone said that they would shoot someone who threatened their families. Even though everyone agreed that they would not want to have to do it. Being threatened makes you want to fight back.

But if the people that you feel threatened by are young black men, or Latinos or junkies, or kids from the inner city, you become prejudiced against those groups of people, you add to their sense of alienation, which contributes to the likelihood of their threatening you. The fear begets fear.

Some people say that everything happens for a reason. I don't know if that is true. But I do know that like Viktor Frankl says, when things happen, we have a choice.

We can choose to become violent or fearful or prejudiced, we can choose to hide ourselves away and stop taking risks.

When you get mugged, it is quite normal to feel afraid. But after a while you have to ask yourself 'Do I really want to live in fear? Or do I want to focus on the good people that I have met, and the good experiences that I have had? Which lets me feel glad to be here?'

When I think about having been mugged five times, I remind myself that most days, nothing bad happens. Which is good.

Kim Kardashian is an extremely influential woman. She is probably feeling very afraid right now. She allegedly says that she no longer wants to flaunt her wealth. If she stops wearing diamonds because she really wants to, that is cool. But if she stops out of fear, she is sending a message to millions that they should be afraid too, and afraid to wear diamonds if they want to. And that would be a shame. Because living in fear is no fun no matter what has happened to you.

Sunday Independent

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