The Sister, in a rather strange French comment, has revealed to the world that my pickpocket incident was by no means the first time that I found myself sans possessions.
In 2003, on a wet and dreary day in Glasgow, Student Hails was having a Very Bad Day. Late for a seminar, tired from sitting up all night in an attempt to write an essay of the I completely forgot this was due tomorrow variety, and having just been served decaf coffee by mistake in the canteen, I noted without much surprise that the lift was broken and began running up the stairs to the 7th floor of the Livingstone Tower. I don’t recall much about the seminar, other than that it was with a tutor I despised, primarily because he thought he was funny and once wrote a list of harsh criticisms on what I thought was a pretty amazing essay. He concluded with And don’t use dashes – mainly because I don’t like them. Hilarious.
Anyway, after the seminar, I gathered up my belongings, delivered my essay to the department office, went downstairs, and found myself, quite predictably, in a downpour without a coat. It was only when I arrived at the Underground station that I realised that I did not have my handbag. I had my change of clothes for work, my uni folders, my lunch, my swimming kit, and a copy of The Big Issue… but the handbag was definitely a missing party.
Back to the uni building I ran. Run, run, run. Drip, drip, drip. Past the broken lift, up the stairs, through the corridors, into the seminar room… my handbag was no longer where I’d left it. Quite a pitiful sight by this stage, I reported the theft to the security office, filled in forms, used their phone to cancel my bank card, and left the building to continue with my Bad Day without money, cards, mobile phone, cigarettes, hairbrush, or Tic Tacs. By the time I returned home, Red was waiting for me, looking confused. Did you lose your handbag? he asked, worriedly. I was robbed! I wailed dramatically. I was halfway through my story when it occurred to me to ask how he knew.
I’ve just had a very weird phone call from your mum, he replied. Turned out that my bag had been found, and since it contained my phone, the only other way they had to contact me was via my university records, which held my parents’ details. They’d phoned my very confused mother, who in turn had spoken to my very confused fiancé. My bag was safe! Nothing was stolen! It seemed strange that a thief would steal my bag and take nothing from it. I pointed this out to Red.
Erm… but it wasn’t stolen, he said carefully. You left it in the canteen and the staff put it behind the counter.
The whole thing was a bit embarrassing, as I then had to go back and claim my bag from the security office man who’d listened to my wild accusations of robbery earlier in the day. No matter – I had my bag back! Joyfully, I got the Underground back to the apartment, clutching my beloved bag and glaring at anyone who came within ten feet of me. What a genuinely crap day, I said to Red upon my return. Let’s go out tonight. And so it was that after a few text messages, an evening out was arranged, starting with drinks round at our friends’ place in the East End. Utterly sick of the Underground and walking in the rain by this stage, I ordered a taxi.
It was only when we were climbing the stairs to our friends’ apartment and Red asked me for his phone, which was in my handbag, that I realised for the second time that day that I did not, in fact, have my handbag. I was carefully clutching two bottles of wine, but that was all. Arrrrrrrghhhh! I howled, as the horrible but undeniable reality sank in. Red, and our friends at the top of the stairs, looked at me in some surprise as I sank to the floor, my head in my hands. What? they chorused in alarm.
I left my handbag in the taxi! I said in a strangled gurgle.
I never got it back.