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Cops and robbers 25 August, 2008 at 4:58 am

I went to Notting Hill this evening, ostensibly for the Notting Hill Carnival, but by the time I arrived the carnival had already finished for the day. I met up with the friend I went to meet, had something to eat and a chat with him and his friends, and afterwards we went into The Duke of Wellington on Portobello Road. It was crowded. Extremely crowded. Had been there for a while with my bag and a jacket on a table behind a couch against the wall in the corner, and left them there while I went outside for about a quarter of an hour to make a phonecall. Before the end of that call I’d mentioned that I’d hoped no-one had nicked my stuff, and was relieved to find it moved slightly, but still there. Five or ten minutes later, different story. Oh… no… don’t tell me…

Suffering from attachment. Attachment to the bag, which on days gone by traveled and journeyed with me to faraway places attached to my main backpack. Attachment to the jacket, which, while I didn’t really like it, served a purpose. Attachment to the stack of fliers I’d stickered and written on the night before, which I was going to give away of course, but had some intangible (and potential financial) value. Attachment to the £1.49 can opener that I’d bought last year in London, taken home to Sydney and brought back to Europe with me this year; on a few occasions it gave access to that basic necessity of food, and with that a small feeling of power and majesty. Attachment to the £3 mini tripod I’d bought for my camera at a computer fare off Tottenham Court Road; though I’d only used it a few times, it held so much potential. Attachment to the daggy emergency rain poncho that my mum had given to me as one of the many small items she thought I might need just before I left home for Europe last year. I drive her crazy sometimes, but in her own small ways she still tries to protect me. Attachment to the tiny bottle of Blink’n’Clean, which i don’t think I can reasonably leave home wearing contact lenses without, even though I often don’t use it while I’m out, and I knew I’d have to replace eventually. Attachment to the memories that are triggered by any and all of the physical objects that are now gone. In the bag was more than stuff, it was a connection to my past, to where I have been and to who I am. I’ve always been a hoarder, and I think I’ve just discovered why. I’m afraid of forgetting. If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is an object worth? It is a picture, many pictures, and more.

It is a strange situation that the entire area of the carnival was teeming with police, but something basic like theft of personal belongings goes on regardless. I asked one of the several officers standing outside (some five or ten metres from the scene of the crime!) about reporting it and was given the location of an area designated for making reports, a few minutes’ walk away.

Before going there, I spoke to the manager at the bar and was surprised at how helpful he was. His opinion is that theft is really terrible, that taking other people’s things to sell for maybe a few pounds is really low. He took me up to the office to review the CCTV footage. Unfortunately, even though there was one camera facing that corner, it was too dark and far away to be able to reasonably make out details of who was there or what was going on. He took down my details, but I don’t think there’s anything more he can do.

I made a report at the special location then headed back towards the tube. The bar was just closing, so I had a quick look around inside to make sure my things weren’t on the floor somewhere – of course they weren’t, but it didn’t cost much to check. The main cost left was the fact that this fussing about meant that the tube had now closed and I had to find another way home. The P.C. who took my report called to let me know that he’d entered the report into the system, give me a reference number and ask for a couple of more details. The police here seem to be mostly polite and helpful where they can be.

There was a long queue in the Biegel shop in Brick Lane on my way home. All I wanted was a sausage roll, and I had to have an argument with the guy who’d jumped the queue in front of me. Somewhat by accident, perhaps, but his explaination to his friend that it was better I be let in front because I was angry (about the theft) belied the fact that he was the person who was being unreasonable in the first place.

Good news when I arrived home – I’d asked SCEEN Magazine about how to obtain a copy of issue #2 and they wrote back to me to say how (and that i can get it delivered to London). Yay! More good news that a Couchsurfer in Linz can host me for the duration of the Ars Electronica Festival next month. Double yay! I also have an email from Unity Selekta about some tracks to practice with for Mind! – even though it is ‘work’, it is still good news. Oh, and I left out that just the fact that my home is still here and it hasn’t been robbed is good news! My laptop is still here (typing on it now) and iPod, left on the table in my room, and I’m supposing everything in my pack, which is (unlike the day bag taken from the bar) locked and cable-attached to the wall… there seems to be a little bit of inconsistency in my managing of security!

-G.

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