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SUMMER

24th August


through the wardrobe of clothes in the stolen bag: a swimsuit bought for the holiday, a multicoloured skirt purchased several years before in Spain, her 'special' blouse. She couldn't comprehend why I seemed matter of fact about the theft. "I don't understand you," she said tearfully in exasperation. "You don't seem to be bothered or upset." The truth is I wasn't really bothered by the larceny, even thought we had to confront the prospect of surviving the next two weeks in the clothes we were standing up in. I tried to comfort my daughter - her art book, paints and crayons had also been taken. I told her that you have to try and keep vicious and violent things from touching you deeply. She couldn't understand why I wasn't angry either and my words were of little consolation.

After an hour a police officer dressed in plain clothes - a detective - arrived. He asked me to follow him to the station. Arriving there he invited me into an office where I tried to explain the incident in my pidgin Spanish. His English was predictably better. He told me that he'd visited Britain regularly. He had a relative who lived in "Royal Tunbridge Wells" and the aristocratic connection of the country town seemed important to him. I explained that I would need a report written in English for insurance purposes. He started to write but he struggled to find the right words. I offered to do it for him; I explained that I was an academic. "Oh, so you write books, eh?" I said I did. "Sure," he said ushering me in front of the computer screen. I started to type

 


with the detective interjecting enthusiastically.

"The being of the person who is stole... What is that?"
"The victim," I replied.
"Ah si - the victeeem," he repeated.
"The bag of the victeem," he said, apparently pleased with his newfound command of English.

After about 30 minutes the report was written. It was actually a very pleasant experience of co-authorship. As I left the detective opened his palms and shrugged his shoulders.
"I am sooorry," he said.
After what seemed like a long pause, he continued: "I hope your holiday will be better. Perhaps, you will make a book about this?"
"Perhaps," I replied, as we shook hands.
The shattered glass cleaned out of the car, I returned to my family and found them outside the Guggenheim Museum tucking into ice creams.

It wasn't until a few days later that I realised that stowed away secretly in that stolen bag was... a notebook. It was almost completely full of scribbled ideas, references and intellectual 'notes to self'. It was only then that I started to think about the value of what had been lost. I tried to remember what it contained, my stomach tightened as I calculated the full extent of the nauseating loss. The clothes hadn't mattered to me, it was easy to brush that off - but a beloved moleskine full of reflections written over

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SUMMER - 2004


31 August