I went running this morning under a largely blue sky: bits of cloud here and there but definite attempts by the sun to break through properly. So I just put on a light windproof/showerproof jacket and set off hatless and gloveless. By the time I was halfway round my route the cloud had moved in and thickened. I stopped off at the Co-op to buy the paper. By the time I came out of the shop it was spitting with rain. By the time I was half way home it was properly raining. I found myself tying a plastic carrier bag round my hair to keep it dry! Such elegance!
Since then I have been nowhere, but have stayed in and read the newspaper.
Howard Jacobson was writing about antisemitism, talking about changing attitudes over his lifetime. One interesting thing he reported was about having been spat at in the street in Clapham, south London, some time in the late 1980s. What surprised him was that the perpetrator was a woman. Instead of a feeling of physical danger, he said he felt sadness. “i am a mother’s boy and expect a woman to nurture, not abuse me. My sadness encompassed both of us. It was as though, un the act of aspersing me, she was violating her own nature.” And I find myself wondering if that reaction is a generational thing - Mr Jacobson is just a few years older than I am - for I still find it more shocking to hear a woman swear or behave violently. Do my children have the same reaction? I must ask them.
In another section of the paper, a columnist wrote about “stealing” stuff from hotel rooms. Mostly she was talking about freebies: toiletries and the like. I know people who regularly collect the shower gel and stuff like that from hotel rooms. A small way of making up for the price of the room. We have done so ourselves and have a collection of little tubes of shower gel in the bathroom, ostensibly for visitors but mostly because the hoarder in me hates throwing stuff away. Nobody ever seems to use them. The only thing I keep nowadays are shower-caps, which visitors do ask for. The columnist, however, admits to stealing slippers and taking the battery out of the TV remote. “I’m not as bad as others,” she declares, “I’ve never taken a robe, or any of the furniture or appliances. Not yet anyway.”
We once were questioned about a cushion which went missing from our hotel room. Fortunately I was able to explain that Phil had taken it down to the chess tournament room and forgotten to bring it back. By her time we remembered and went to fetch it, the wretched thing had disappeared. We have been back there since and have been more careful!
Here’s a story of a man in Frankfurt who forgot where his car was parked and eventually reported it stolen. It was never found until twenty years later when an industrial building was being demolished and the car was discovered in the garage. Ideally, the story should have a fairytale ending of the now 76 year old getting in the car and driving off into the sunset. Or maybe not as there could be some outstanding carpark fees to pay, but, no, it was not to be; the car was unusable and had to be scrapped.
I once lost mine, temporarily I am glad to say, in central Manchester. I had parked the car on a side street off Deansgate. Back then you could still find parking spots where you did not have to pay. Off I went to whatever meeting I was attending. A couple of hours later I walked up and down every side street hunting for my vehicle. There was no way I could report it stolen as I simply did not know which street I had left it on. Just before panic set in, I was reunited with my trusty, and unstolen, car. Phew, what a relief!
Something to finish with. As the discussion of the Skripal poisoning continues I have a couple of questions. First of all, if it was administered via the door handle of their house, why did it not take effect until after they had eaten until after they had eaten? And just how “deadly” was the deadly nerve agent if both Skripals are now recovering? And will we ever really know what happened?