My wife and youngest daughter came down to work with me this week. Well, they cadged a lift to the outskirts of London from me (and because of my knee problems got to have more of a lie in bed than they had originally anticipated). I dropped them off at a bus-stop on the business park I am currently based at.
They had tickets to see Hairspray on stage in London that evening and planned to have a grand time in the city during the day. This was compensation to my daughter for the deceit she had suffered from a friend recently. The extreme heat meant their adventures were rather more muted than they had planned.
Apparently the show was brilliant even though a high percentage of the cast were off and a lot of under-studies filled in (well, it was a Monday). I think this matters less for an ensemble cast musical than for most shows. I certainly would not have been happy if this had happened for the Hamlet performance I went to last week. The theatre was extremely hot though and my wife ate three ice-creams (very unusual) in a vague attempt to cool off. My youngest, who normally has the air-conditioning in her bedroom so low (temperature-wise) that I can barely face visiting her room [maybe that is a ruse] was enjoying the show too much to care about the heat (and she hates ice-cream and fizzy drinks anyway so her options were somewhat limited).
I collected them from a station local to me and brought them back to my hotel where I had arranged for them to share a room with me. (Well, it was already paid for – did not seem to be much point them staying anywhere else). It has been raining very very heavily by the time I collected them – lots of spot flooding of the road.
They joined me for breakfast at the office this morning – a great opportunity for them to see where I have been working for the last three months. Unfortunately, my first meeting of the day is 8.15 so I had to get them in early and them send them on their way and they did not get a chance to meet many of my fine colleagues.
They planned to spend some time in London having some fun before heading for home. Sadly, they were targeted by some thieves who distracted my daughter whilst she was looking after my wife’s handbag (she had gone to the loo) – speaking to her in French and broken English – and helped themselves to my wife’s purse. This contained several credit and debit cards and a driving license.
I had been back at the office only a short time after my first physio session on my knee when the panic phone-call came in. It took me only a moment to call the card companies and have them shut the cards down. [I do have a subscription to one of these card protection agencies but they never get in touch and I have no idea what the state of the records is and how to use them – money for old rope, must do something about this]. I called my somewhat distressed wife back and discovered that she had not yet purchased a train-ticket home and now had no means of purchasing such tickets.
I ended up mirroring their journey of that morning by hopping [well. not hopping give the state of my knee] on the local bus to the local station and getting a train to Paddington where I met up with them, bought and shared a nice meal with them and withdrew plenty of cash to enable them to get home and get through the next few days until the replacement cards arrived. It was interesting how they divided the cash so carefully between themselves and between there various pockets, pushed down below other things.
Given the driving license had gone, we also called my older daughter to warn her to look out for strangers coming to the house. Unlikely in this case but we know some organised criminals target tourists and identify homes that are probably empty elsewhere in the country and arrange visits to those houses.
They headed off shortly after I left them to return to the office and had a slowish but otherwise uneventful trip back home and no doubt shared the stories with my eldest at great length.
It could have been much worse. No one was hurt. There was no mugging. My wife lost an old purse and £30. We stopped all the cards before there was chance to use them. The greatest risk now is identity theft and this we will look out for very carefully.
My knee really did not cope well with the trip into London.