Nelson no more

This is my 112th post. Listened to the end of the Chris Evans show on Radio 2 this afternoon. Johnny Saunders is interviewing Will Carling at the end of the show. Chris, having recently discovered Twitter, and being very excited by it, interrupts.
“So, Will, I was following you on Twitter today, and I see you were out on your bike this afternoon…?”
Gosh. I must really get myself onto Twitter, there’s a lot of interesting news going down there. Perhaps I could call myself @frequentlyburgled or something. I arrived home one Friday night recently from a conference in Ascot, somewhat empty-handed, BA having lost my bag in Terminal 5, as is their wont. My key wouldn’t turn in the Yale lock. I feared the worst, as the only person who could have snibbed the lock from the inside (legally) was my mother, and she was in London. And if she had snibbed the lock, she must have left by the window. Which it seems is what the burglars did, having entered the same way, before spurning my entire CD and DVD collection (again) on their way to finding my digital camera. Installing pretty-looking window locks, as I did after the last burglary, appears to have been the equivalent of owning a nightclub and hiring a couple of teenage girls as bouncers. Attractive, but ineffectual. The electrified steel bars with barbed wire and sensor-triggered shotgun, which I have just added to the back of the property, should put paid to them when they come back for my new camera.
Shopping for the new camera was an interesting experience. Last time, my insurance company insisted I buy a replacement from Jessops, which suited me fine, as they know things about cameras in there, not to mention customer service. I duly was given a full explanation and demonstration of my chosen camera, and the photographic miracles it could perform. This time, I had to buy from Comet. When I asked about a specific model, I was taken to the nearest computer screen, where the young chap helpfully read out the list of features that appeared. Still, he was very pleasant.
I subscribe to a weekly cricket email, called the Spin, which is sent out from the Guardian HQ, and brightens up my inbox of a Tuesday. This week, the author, in passing, made reference to the UK Citizenship Test, and I followed the link to have a go at it. It appears I am ineligible to live in my own country. I have now lived in the UK for thirty-five and a half years, and I failed the test that they give people who want to live here. I deeply regret that I do not know the year that married women gained the right to divorce their husband, or how many people in the UK declared themselves to be Muslims in 2001. I imagine there are many, many people in the UK who know how many parliamentary constituencies we have, but I trust that I will be able to continue to survive without that knowledge. How embarrassing, that prospective UK dwellers have to answer these questions. Personally, I think that Norman Tebbit’s Cricket Test makes more sense. After all, that’s what we’re all here for, right? ‘Course it is. Apart from Wiseman, who’s only here for the kick-boxing. And beer…

This time next week

“Just think,” remarked Wiseman, as we walked to my car this afternoon. “This time next week we won’t be walking along this road.”

Next Saturday he and I embark on a holiday together, which begins with what he euphemistically refers to as a cruise, from Cairnryan to Larne, and then an ocean drive to somewhere in Donegal.

We wistfully considered how, by this time next week, we could be grumpily sitting at opposite ends of our cottage, he sending me a text to let me know that he’d finished using the kitchen, and had cleared away “my” mess. Or one of us pushing a boat out from a deserted beach in Donegal and rowing for home, having had enough. It would be a sad indictment on our friendship if any of this had come to pass by this time next week, since we would only have been in each other’s company for 24 hours or so.

Hopefully it won’t come to anything like that. But just to be on the safe side, we’ve roped in some others (girls, no less) to share the cottage and buffer us from each other. Perhaps they might even elevate the chat to a higher level. However, one can’t be sure, and consequently, the blog may soon be receiving some much-needed attention after weeks of neglect, although wireless hotspots likely being even less numerous in Donegal than well-surfaced roads, the actual posting may prove to be a stumbling block. We’ll see, as my mother always said when my sister or I had asked for something she had no intention of giving us.

Speaking of my sister, she made a welcome visit to Edinburgh last week with young Maggie in tow. Maggie seemed very impressed with my new car, and in stark contrast with everyone I have mentioned this to, was especially excited that I’d managed to secure an SM57 registration. Of the readers of this blog, I expect only The Weir will fully join with myself and Maggie in the appreciation of a classic microphone appearing on my number plate. Maggie confided in me that she would never use anything else on snare drum or guitar amps. She’s very advanced for her age.

Having now replaced all of my stolen items through the kindly insurance company, inevitably I am beginning to realise that there are other things I haven’t seen around for a while. Like my Red Sox hat, and my Leatherman knife. Very disappointing. The police have now removed the thieving bandits from general circulation, which is something. I imagine they’re regretting leaving fingerprints all over my kitchen window. Or perhaps they’re not bovvered.

By this time next week, I won’t be either…

The One Man Crime Hotspot

Monday was a bad day. Mondays are often not good days, but this Monday was especially bad. Two Thursdays ago, it wasn’t a good Thursday either. I returned from watching Jason Bourne break into houses and discovered that someone had done something similar to mine. And made a reasonable job of it, making off with my beloved Powerbook, digital camera, a friend’s camcorder, two iPods, an Airport Express and a PDA.

So here I was on Monday morning, looking at a space in the road that used to contain my car, and I realised that I could add my spare car key to that list.

“Hello, Lothian and Borders Police?”

“Hi, it’s Andrew”

“Hello Andrew, what is it this time…?”

The conversation didn’t quite go like that, but I feel like it could have. I’m getting to know the police quite well, and I have to say they’ve been very helpful. They thought my flat had been thoroughly trashed by the burglars, but I had to sheepishly confess that actually it normally looks like that. They even referred me to Victim Support, and before long a nice lady called me to ask if there was anything she could do to help. I considered asking her to have a hunt around for my laptop, but decided against it. She sounded very kind.

I spotted a Neighbourhood Watch sticker on the window of a client’s house, while out on Monday doing home visits in my colleague Tuckett’s car. I considered, in a moment of ironic genius, stealing it. Then sticking it to my forehead to warn thieves away. I mentioned this to Wiseman.

“When did you last check for the presence of your forehead?” was his reply. Wiseman does not work for Victim Support.

A few people of a more sympathetic nature have commented on how horrible it is knowing that someone’s been in your house. I have to admit this hasn’t really troubled me. I’m quite used to people being in my house, and they usually steal stuff while they’re here as well. But usually only biscuits and maybe the occasional CD.

Somewhat offensively, these thieves didn’t see fit to take any of my CDs. Not a single one. They even left the Denise LaSalle 7″ single. Criminals these days, tsk tsk, no music taste. After the car theft it wouldn’t have shocked me to see the CDs from my car carefully stacked on the pavement beside the empty parking space. But I daresay they’ve been torched with the rest of my car interior.

Still, every cloud and all that. I’m currently shopping for a new company car, and that’s never a bad thing.

I met the Loss Adjuster yesterday. After the introductions – “I am the Loss Adjuster, are you the Victim?” – she perched on the edge of my sofa, trying to minimise the amount of her expensive suit that was in contact with my furniture, and gave me the bad news. I would have to get my new laptop from PC World, unless they didn’t supply Apple products. I tried to pretend I thought they didn’t, even though I knew they did. Was that deceitful? Is it wrong to instead want to buy a computer from somewhere where they know something about (a) computers and (b) customers? I dreamt of marching in, leaning across the counter and growling “Now then spotty, I don’t like you because you’re PC World and you don’t like me because I’m a customer. But here we are, there’s nothing else for it, we’ll have to make the best of it.”

However, being confrontational is not my forte. I struggle to complain in a restaurant, even when the food is rank. And I don’t growl very well anyway. Mumbling is more my thing. Thankfully a trip to PC World has been avoided, as they told her they don’t have much of a choice Mac-wise. I am very grateful.

I am also very grateful that the thieves didn’t take more, or do more damage. And it’s a timely reminder to me that there’s more important things in life than possessions. Just before I arrived at the cinema, I remembered that I had left my iron switched on. Slightly paranoid about coming home to a burnt-out tenement, I phoned my mum and asked her to pop in and switch it off. The break-in occurred after she left, but I don’t like to think about what might have happened if she had disturbed the burglars in the act.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

These Bible verses often come to mind when I find something in my flat which moths have chewed on. But they have sprung to mind more frequently than usual of late. There are more important things in life…

For a while there my blog mysteriously developed an aversion to the apostrophe, which was distressing – thank you for bearing with me while I had it fixed. And please do not tell the Apostrophe Protection Society – I may have my membership rescinded. And that might be more than I could take…