Unfortunately, I did not fit new locks quite quickly enough. As last night's rather bland report was being written at Nickson Towers, events were, as they say, afoot over at the future site of Large Villas.
We left Nickson Towers just after tea last night, took a leisurely, good humoured walk over to Large Villas, looking forward to having a few of the cooling beers that we'd left in the rear room of the new place before heading out to a bar with a couple of Red HB's work cronies. We entered the wreck, walked 8into the back room, and much to my surprise, in the scant hour and a half that we'd been absent, the beer had gone. Disappeared. Stolen.
There was no sign of forced entry, so the mystery before us appeared to deepen. What criminal mastermind would be so brilliant as to be able to enter a locked building, without damaging any exterior doors, or windows, and with no apparent signs of tunnelling, effect a heinous act, and exeunt pronto, all within an hour, disappearing into the night, like a stealthy person who's gone to Stealth School and graduated top of "Stealthiness". We puzzled the crime for a full microsecond.
"Cheeky bastards" I said.
"THE BEER??? THE BEEER???They've stolen the beer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" cried Red HB, full of anguish, and giving every appearance of someone who is just about to rend her garment.
Red HB, always the more resilient of our partnership, recovered first, and got to the point quickly: "Who's going to get more beer? Matt and Will are coming round."
The vote fell with Red, as I'm soon to be an impoverished student, and am trying to get into student habits (never buy beer if you can scrounge it, never carry cash, always be just about to do something when expenditure threatens). As she was leaving, next door neighbour popped his head out of his door.
"The tenants were back", he told us, "They walked out with a large cabinet, a rug, a saw and some beer."
We are stunned. Firstly, because if they'd wanted any of the junk that we'd spent the day piling up in the back yard, they only had to ask, but secondly, because surely in any language, in any culture, in any strata of society, regardless of language ability, regardless of immigration status, regardless of rich and poor, what they have just done is Stupid Theft, and (this is the point of our surprise) they have done the deed while being viewed by about half a dozen people, who know who they are and where they have moved to. (They also took my saw, a couple of our I-pod speakers and possibly some small hand tools). The stupidity amazes both of us, but it does fit with what we know of these people - the unsanitary conditions of the property are revealed to be on a massive scale as today's work has progressed.
The police arrive the next day, and take the situation very seriously, because as I arrive today, the back door is open - the tenants have been back for further pickings. We are treated to two constables, a forensics team, and over the phone, a Community Liason Officer. The officers we meet are impressive - intelligent, helpful, professional, and they explain that to them, the size of the theft is not important, the act is. They also ask the question that every new person we've met since we came to England asks "Why did you come back?".