Friday, May 28, 2004


I was in the cinema, watching The Saddest Music In The World, when I gradually became aware that the guy next to me was fidgeting an awful lot in his seat. Looking over, something must have caught my eye, because I suddenly realised that he had my bag on his lap and was busy rooting through it. It being quite dark in there, I checked around the floor first to make sure I wasn't mistaken, before establishing that it was definitely my bag he'd taken. Still thinking it might have been a mistake, and that he might have thought it was his, I leaned over and whispered - 'I think that's mine'. He showed no understanding, nor any inclination to cease looking through it. So, somewhat disturbed now, I leaned over and took the bag from him.

He gave little resistance, but looked a bit put out, as if I'd taken something of his. He then proceeded to ask, in a low but insistent voice, 'Can I have it back please?', repeating this and reaching for the bag, with me all the while insisting, slightly annoyed now, 'it's my bag!', until the man in the row in front turned round and asked us to be quiet. Seeing that I couldn't stop the other man from talking, nor from trying to take my possessions, he then fetched the manager and the two of them finally pulled the guy off me (who had by this time got out of his seat for further pathetic attempts at bag-taking, making me feel like a nasty playground bully holding his lunchbox just out of reach).

The whole thing was completely surreal, since neither I nor he really behaved as if he was in the act of trying to steal from me (if he'd succeeded, he'd only have got away with several theoretical books about property, ironically enough). It was like having a conversation where neither person speaks the same language. And all the while the screen was playing a multi-national heartbreaking extravaganza version of 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot'. I'm sure nothing like this would have happened if it had been Troy...

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