Friday, March 30, 2012

What you took, and what I got...

In which the Hobo actually carries all her worldly possessions in a plastic bag, and encounters a person who knows the price of various things and the value of nothing:

Dear thief,

There are no pictures in this post.  Just, you know, in keeping with the pared-back nature of this post.  It's a long post, by the way.  I hope you're sitting down.

Last Saturday night, at around about 8.30pm, you stole my handbag.  Look, I get it.  My dear friend Becky had just loudly foisted £50 on me.  I'm sure you saw us.  
No, I said, don’t give me £50, it’s only £45 that you owe me and besides, you always pay for things and I’m sure I owe you rather than you needing to give me £5.
Take it, she said, 
no, I said, 
yes, she said and back and forth it went, for a wee while, until we both got fed up and I stashed the cash into my bag with plans of buying her a drink later on.  I can see how, out of the piles of stuff on the table we were standing around, my bag was easy pickings.  It was the smallest, and as you had seen, it had £50 in it.  I can also see how you may have thought, from the above conversation, that Bex and I have a lot of cash to splash.  And not only the two of us, but the other girls we were with.  We were all dressed up, after all.  Buying bottles of cava, celebrating, enjoying each other’s company.  Just in case you were wondering now though, I couldn’t really spare that £50.  You see, my husband and I are saving up for a house.  We are watching our spending, to the point where I get up fifteen minutes early each morning to make us packed lunches, where we walk from zone 3 to zone 2 to save the odd pound on longer journeys.   I should also add here that this Saturday night out was something I’d looked forward to for a long time.  It was the culmination of a close friend’s hard work on a blog which had brought a bunch of like-minded girls together.  It was a chance for all of us to get dressed up and feel a bit special.  I’ll just tell you now, for the record, that it came after a pretty abysmal time for me at work.  4 weeks of agony, to be precise, where I was questioning everything about my ability to work in an industry that I’ve spent nearly 10 years building my career.  A month or so where every other part of my life suffered because I was having such a bad run of it 9-5, a month or so of sleepless nights, letting other people down, and me being fairly difficult to live with.  So every pound of the £50 (well, let’s call it £45 - £5 of it was Becky’s) was money that involved metaphorical blood and sweat and literal tears in the earning.
The bag, incidentally, may have looked a little bit shabby to you, but perhaps that’s because it’s over 50 years old.  My paternal grandfather (who, by the way, I can’t remember because he died when I was 3) used to like to buy my grandma beautiful things, and she liked to look after them.  He bought her that bag, and she passed it on to me.  You, thief, have jumped the chain of custody on that bag.  Both my cousins wanted it, and my Aunt has eyed it off in the past as well.  It was not meant to end up where I imagine it may be now: dumped by the side of the road once it had been stripped of anything of monetary value.  If you’re wondering why there’s a sticker on the inside of it that says ‘you’re hot’, that’s a reminder of the night that my friend Kellie and I spent the night dancing, following one particular Avril Lavigne song from club to club and anytime we heard it playing from outside a venue, pushing our way in shamelessly to dance.  We picked up the stickers (hers said ‘phwoar’ or something) at club number 6.  I vaguely remember it being a drag queen sticking it on my chest, and then peeling it off carefully later on and sticking in my bag. I took it off, to clarify.  Not sure what happened to the drag queen.
I hope you’re enjoying the Dior lipgloss.  I suppose it serves me right, taking that out with me, and ditto my brand new Bodyshop bronzer.  I hope you appreciate how lush that bronzer is.  The top is all, quilted.  Yes, I know that quilted isn’t the right word, but I can’t think of a better one to describe its texture.  Let me know if you do.  I didn’t buy that bronzer, incidentally.  It was part of a goody bag that I got for going to London Fashion Week.  And before you start thinking that I am a spoilt girl about town with a cushy job or rich parents, I won tickets to LFW after a pretty terrible time which included, but wasn’t limited to, a huge move, a bereavement and being turned down for my dream job because I lacked Fashion Week experience.  Ironic, eh?  That’s the story of that bronzer.  Incidentally I didn’t even take it with me because I thought I’d need to re-apply it – I got it because I wanted to show it to the other girls and see if they knew what I meant about it being quilty.
And yeah, most pressingly, you got my phone and my keys.  You probably didn’t think as far ahead as this, but without those two items I was in trouble.  Had you taken everything but just had the carelessness to drop my keys onto the ground, things would have gone a little smoother for me.  My husband was in Scotland for the weekend, you see.  My best girlfriend in London was in Poland.  I couldn't remember anyone’s number.  I think I was in shock, a bit.  But don’t worry – I was well looked after.  Because although you got cash, a weekly travel card, a dior lipgloss, a vial of perfume, an HTC phone, my bankcard, a makeup brush, the aforementioned bronzer and an Estee Lauder mascara, here’s what I got:

Mrs Joan Hunter Dunn, whom I’d met for the first time that night, pressing £20 into my hands with incredible gentleness, who said to me, as I burst into tears, that she was just helping and someone had done it for her when she’d been in a similar situation. 

A bed for the night in a beautiful spare bedroom of the cousin of Becky’s husband Nik, complete with brand new pyjamas of comical disproportions, amid bookshelves laden with Douglas Adams, Salman Rushdie and Danielle Steele (an unbeatable combination in my view) and an exquisite cup of coffee in the morning from my host who was so friendly and gracious towards me, a strange girl with not a penny to her name, that you’d think his calling was not the law but rather the provision of services to foundlings.

The loan of a dress, cardigan, tights and shoes from Becky, who then developed blisters because I was wearing her only pair of flats.  Not to mention the way that I monopolized her phone, or how she sent a number of reassuring messages to my worried husband who thought he needed to fly back early.

6 emails, some from girls I’d met for the first time that night, to see if I was all right.

The loan of her mobile by a girl who saw me crying at the DLR station on Sunday night as I tried to make my way to our estate agent’s second office in Greenwich, where I’d never been, when I realised I may not make it on time.  

Yep, I came out on top with this one.  I gained more than I lost.


  1. Oh Gemma :-( I know I've seen you since this happened but reading about the value (sentimental of course) of your things made me feel so sad and angry...

    (oh and I really do want to meet that cousin...)

  2. Oh my gosh. I just stumbled across your blog via asafemooring and you have absolutely captured me with this post. I do hope you are feeling better this week and I wanted to tell you that you have restored my faith in humanity! Thanks!