Tuesday, June 30, 2009

'Ware Whitstable

You couldn't make it up. Forty years I've been gadding about London, ( my Regular Reader knows to what extent) without getting mugged, accosted or insulted. Well, that's not quite true. A few weeks ago a doglover called me an Old Bag on Lewisham Station , when I took precedence over her mutt getting on a train. She'd spread her arms to protect its progress, but I had the cheek to dodge past.

As I was saying, in forty years inside the M25 (although I'm not sure it was built when I arrived in 1969) nothing like that happened. Admittedly, I once fell asleep at a brass band concert in St James Park and when I awoke my bag had gone from beside the deckchair. Another time in the NFT cafe I sat down, then got up for a knife and fork. Less than a minute, and my bag was gone. That exemplary institution's dedicated room with a free phone and list of number helped ease the pain. Even so, the thief had time to get cashback on a purchase at the nearest M&S. It was pre-chip and pin days. Arguably, I was careless. and on neither occasion was the purse on my person.

Whitstable was my nemesis. After an relaxed Sunday afternoon of strolling by the shingle, sampling seafood and trawling the charity shops it was time to go home. As R approached the counter of the very last shop with a pile of £1 paperbacks ( the nearly-new one on how to use Windows XP will be particularly useful) my rucksack seemed unnaturally light. A quick glance at the outside pocket showed the zip was open and my heavy wallet-purse was gone. 'Are you sure you had it?' says R. It's true I had checked before I set out, found no money in it, so maybe I'd just left it on the table

It wasn’t at home, though. The absence of money was a good thing, but what the wallet did contain was all my cards - bank, building society, all my library and gallery cards, Cineworld and BFI membership tickets -plus my Freedom Pass!. A lot of palaver ahead. Then I remembered two door keys. 'That's OK, it didn't have your address?' Well, yes, it would be on the business cards those nice people at prontoprint provide free (except for postage)

So apart from all the phoning round we had to call out a locksmith. £155 for two locks! Yes, I know it was Sunday and the guy drove from Haywards Heath.

So I'd say don't put your wallet in your rucksack pocket if you go to Whitstable. Or anywhere else outside London, for that matter. As for my Freedom Pass, after the locks it was the first thing to be replaced, of course.

No comments: