So, I finally booked myself a T.R. on Friday. Which stands for Temporary Release or if you watch MASH on cable, a 36 hour pass. Booked flight to London a couple of weeks ago thinking when I checked the dates that I would get a good deal.
I should confess that I am really a bit "thingey" about Friday the 13th. When I was a sales rep I would pretty much work from home on those days. And even now, if I can avoid it, I will do little more than bring the kids to school and back on such a day.
But I figured it was worth the cheap fare. It had been 6 months at least since my last recc so I booked it all a few weeks ago.
I caught the aircoach Friday morning, flew to Heathrow without incident and had a few delays getting to my hotel, but that was all part of the fun. Being footloose and fancy free walking around Fulham and Chelsea in the sunshine while Mr Hammie did the school run.
Okay, when I walked out of Fulham Broadway station towards Chelsea football ground, I did have a minor squeak when I passed a fellow with either a goitre, or a very large cist coming out of the side of his neck who appeared to have 2 heads.
I know it is very immature of me but I have this terrible habit of noticing things and making a small hopefully internal squark, and then trying quickly to appear nonchalant. I actually catch myself smiling at black people in Dublin sometimes in my middle class "I'm so cool that you are from somewhere else" way. When they were probably born and raised in Ballymaloe and looking at this strange aussie chick with her spacey smile and crinkley crows feet eyes.
I also notice Toupees, facial blemishes and oh my god, orange make up.
And I COMMENT!
If you have lipstick on your teeth, or a ticket hanging out of your T-Shirt, or the strap on your back pack is twisted, then come and sit by me. I will tell you about it and probably lean over and fix it for you.
But I am afraid the same instinct launches in when I see a toupee or oompa loompa pancake make up with a line at the chin, or a facial blemish.
So an extra head kind of threw me.
But as I said, the sun was shining, I was walking footloose and fancy free and no goitre was going to ruin my day out.
My hotel was lovely for a change, I usually book pretty basic digs due to Mother's Guilt; but this time I had a voucher and got a lovely room at the Jury's Inn at Chelsea Harbour. They even changed my room on request to give me a view when I asked nicely.
Then I headed out on foot to walk up the Thames Path, then up to The Kings Road, checked out my favourite charity shops and headed up to the Westend and Chinatown for slap up Vietnamese FEAST!!
Full tummy, Caught the 27 bus back to Chelsea and arrived at the cinema just in time to catch "Sex and the City".
Great, a huge cinema, I grabbed a seat near the back and arranging my shopping bags around me; Carrie style (except they were mostly recycled bags from Oxfam and Cancer Research) I put my foot through the loop of my handbag and settled back to enjoy the movie.
The cinema was huge, and the back few rows were kind of empty, so at one stage I slipped off my wedges and put my feet up on the seat in front.
Great film, won't spoil it but it was just as satisfying as the final series with the added benefit of knowing it was all going to be resolved in 2 1/2 hours, not left hanging for the next series. Go Carrie.
End of film, I reached into handbag to switch my mobile back to normal from vibrate and then text Mr Hammie that I was leaving cinema.
No mobile in handbag. Searched and searched and realised wallet was missing too.
(not a big deal. I carry a muggers wallet with a debit card that has a little bit of money in the account, a color copy of my drivers licence and my social security card, I always keep my Visa card in my money belt)
But as I realised that the bag had been opened; I started searching the floor under my seat, then all my shoppings. Then I found my wallet, under the seat with everything intact. But still no mobile.
A couple of seats up. two young ladies were doing the same thing as the lights were coming on and the cinema staff were cleaning up popcorn.
I twigged and asked if they had lost anything. One of them was missing her Iphone.
The other had her phone. A fairly outdated flip phone so I asked her quickly if I could ring my phone and check if it was vibrating somewhere in my bag.
It went straight to voicemail of course.
Those two girls, although very nice, Simply couldnt believe that they had been robbed.
Like me they had read the signs about bag snatchers in the area, and had kept their bags near them.
But none of us had dreamt that we would be pickpocketed at the movies.
The manager explained that someone could commando crawl along the empty back row and reach under the seats or into jackets and feel for good phones or wallets.
The Fulham and Chelsea crime reporting officer explained to me later that they would be looking for something with a high value that they could sell quickly. So no outdated fliphones. Just my gorgeous little Sony Ericsson with the walkman and the best camera features. And this girl's Iphone.
I borrowed the Manager's phone and rang home, woke up Mr Hammie to say what had happened and then caught a cab back to the hotel. (big extravagance but I had ten pounds in my unstolen wallet)
The very kind cabbie didnt want his tip as I explained that I needed a bit of change so I could phone home on a pay phone. The even kinder hotel manager looked up the phone company numbers on the internet for me, but the phone company wasn't answering as it was well after midnight.
So I did the only thing I could; went to the hotel bar for a Large Jameson and paid with my safely protected credit card.
Upstairs, big hot bath and into bed with Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. Well, their book anyway "The Long way round" I felt very sad and lonely. But also stupid. Should have kept my handbag in my lap maybe. But who expects a pickpocket in the cinema?
Thanks to Mr Jameson I fell asleep eventually and I think I tried to dream about Carrie and New York and Shopping. However the next morning my phone was still stolen and for the first time I felt very alone in the big city.
I always travel to London alone. But with my phone I can take photos of things I want to share. (like Binney Street W1, the last photo I took)
I can phone home to Mr Hammie and the babies; I can even text my Gay Boyfriend in Sydney to check before making major purchases. (and tell him about Binney Street)
Without it. I was just a sad Mummy in vintage designer clothes walking around Mayfair and Hyde Park with no one to text when I found a dead rat on the top deck of the bus. (the londoners around me didn't even comment when I sqwarked)
And the worst part? When I went to the Police Station to report the theft (cue The Bill music, "da, da da da, da da dada duh")
The desk office referred to me as "The Victim" while typing the report.
A word I fight against with every beat of my heart. Seeking to avoid the "victime Chic" dress code of Stay at Home Special needs Mothers, I always put on my makeup and wear my heels. When someone bullies me, I fight back. I even fight for others.
Dickhead maybe, for not keeping my hand bag in my lap with a roll of barbed wire around it. But victim?
And No, Constable Steve Loxton (Google The Bill) did not come out and take me into the interview room to take my report personally.
Or frisk me.
It really took the shine off my day.
Little did I know there was much worse to come......