My first lesson in the dangers of trusting strangers came in 1983, not long after I turned five, when an unfamiliar woman entered our house. Doris, from Glasgow, was in her late 20s and starting as our nanny. My mum had found her through a posh magazine called The Lady.
Doris arrived wearing a Salvation Army uniform, complete with bonnet. “I remember her thick Scottish accent,” Mum recalls. “She told me she’d worked with kids of a similar age and was a member of the Salvation Army because she enjoyed helping people. But, honestly, she had me at hello.”
Doris lived with us for 10 months. For the most part she was a good nanny – cheerful, reliable and helpful. There was nothing unusual about her, aside from a few unexplained absences at weekends.
Back then, our neighbours, the Luxemburgs, had an au pair Doris spent a lot of time with. Late one evening, Mr Luxemburg knocked on our door after discovering the pair had been involved in running a drugs ring. “They had even been in an armed robbery,” my father later related, “and Doris was the getaway driver.” The getaway car, it transpired, was our family’s Volvo estate.
My parents decided to search Doris’s room. In a shoebox under her bed, she had stuffed piles of foreign currency, stolen from my parents’ home office. My dad stood on guard by our front door all night with a baseball bat, scared Doris would come home. Thankfully, she didn’t.