He wandered aimlessly through the museum, seeking any form of distraction to avoid his mother. She was running loose with her camera, even though taking photos of the exhibits was strictly verboten. And rather than be discreet and use her phone, she was waving around a piece of apparatus that was probably in vogue when the Titanic sank. Bloody hell, thought Clifford, all she needed was the wooden tray of magnesium powder and a black cape over her head.
He caught up with her in the diamond room. And watched a security guard bearing down on her as she snapped off photos, the flashes bouncing off the assembled rows of jewels like a disco ball.
By god, it was working! He stepped back in disbelief as the guard politely but firmly told her off. His mother played a blinder with her confused, deaf, little old lady routine. He edged closer, as with fumbling hands, she tried to take the film out of the camera and spilt the contents of her handbag all over the floor. Quite the crowd was gathering. Even the CCTV monitors had turned their blank eyes to watch the fun. He nodded and positioned himself in front of the display containing the Noor diamonds.
A heartbeat later, the alarms started, and he felt a hand slip into his pocket. People screamed in shock as the gates slammed down. In the chaos, he brushed past his mother and what followed was textbook perfect.
The security guys calmed down when they discovered nothing appeared to be missing, and everyone in the Noor room agreed to be searched. Mother joined the queue, but the guards waved her away.
“Off you go, Granny,” said one of them. “You were with us the whole time.”
They escorted her from the building and even called her a cab.
Clifford grinned at the thought of five million pounds worth of precious gemstones making their way to an abandoned office block in Neasden.