Sunday, 16 May 2010

Picaresque London

So recently returned to London, we had forgotten about all the petty crime. At high noon on our first full day back, we intercepted a mobile phone theft.
“Help, this guy’s trying to steal my phone. Call the police!”, a passerby entreated us. So, naively, we walked over and asked what was going on. A local thug on a bike had asked to see the man’s phone, and then tried to walk away with it. So, reaching for my ancient Nokia – and realizing I didn’t remember what the number in England was - I took a photo instead. Or pretended to – I had also forgotten how to use the camera function. The perpetrator got mad, telling Daniel to make me deleted it. Daniel said no. Sophia asked what was going on, and Lulu rubbed snot onto my top. The guy eventually let up his fight, issued a threat for the future and then cycled off.
Later that day, two kids tried to break into our car.
The following afternoon, a neighbor across the street told Sophia that the thumbtack she had retrieved from his windowsill had been dipped in rat poison. Angrily, he said that the hundreds of other such rat poisoned tacks were there to prevent pedestrians from sitting or leaning on his windowsill. Challenged as to why that was a good idea – on a thoroughfare frequented by children – he retorted that youngsters were the worst offenders. I asked whether erecting a sign to warn parents of the danger might be a good idea, even offering to make one myself, he said that was beside the point.
So, I called the police. They sent the neighborhood safety patrol around, and nary a tack has since been seen on Columbia Road.

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