I stood, fingers curled around a pair of stray knickers as Brad moved like a trapped leopard. His bulging form bristled, pulling his shirt tightly up his bicep to reveal a tattoo of a sword-pierced snake. Brad took out his pen. With his teeth…
Oh, hullo there. Sorry – but I defy any woman to relay a bedroom burglary without coming over a bit Mills & Boon. Brad had an ‘Actual Truncheon’ for god’s sake. It somehow made getting robbed in my own home a bit easier. The fact he was packing, (and lordy was he), made me somehow feel like my violation was being suitably dealt with. If PC Brad Virtue had arrived with only a near-empty canister of mace hanging limply from his belt I’d have been terribly disappointed.
So my flatmate and I got in one night last week to find our computers gone. It took some unnerved patrolling to piece together that the oiks had got in through the bathroom window, taken their swag, then hotfooted it out of the backdoor, down to the garden and away.
We sat in the hallway, shaken, swigging rum like pirates. The police came. They looked around. They did the spiel. They took it down. And it did not feel exciting at all, actually. Brad’s hard air of estuary justice did not have me flinging myself facedown on the bed, begging to be cuffed while confessing to the lipstick I stole from the chemists as a 13 year old high on push-pops and PMT. It had me biting my lip and wondering what I would have done if I’d been there when they’d broken in.
I was still wide awake at 2:07, 3:19, and 4:38am, scanning the night-sky’s silhouettes for swag-bagged rooftop-creepers with those eye-patch things that the hamburglar wears to nick everyone’s nuggets. Awake at 5:21 and 6:57. My chest was tight, the window a chasm, the wind outside a portent, the slightest creak a malevolent footstep, and I wanted to cry a bit but was trying to be a big girl. I felt like the side of the house had been ripped off and anyone could get at me. I felt small and alone and scared. And it annoyed the shiz out of me because normally I am Well Hard.
It’s a strange feeling. I understand how my mum felt now, when we moved from Hackney to Leicester in the early 80s after a Christmas Eve burglary. The reprobate made off with the presents and let loose the birds and rabbits in our garden to be supper for foxes. Mum felt like London had changed. We moved shortly after. I’ve never really thought about the fact that our lives actually physically changed because of a burglary.
But of course, you can get burgled anywhere. You can’t escape the actions of others. There is no safe place, unless you barricade yourself up in a B&Q crafted Fort Knox.
The thing that really gets taken I suppose is not your stuff, but your ease in your own space.
I stayed awake. The sky grew slowly lighter as some total vermin wiped my machine – my writing, my photos, my music, my thoughts – ready to sell cheap in the morning for smack.
I consoled myself with a picture of Brad bursting into the den of inequity, smacking the perp’s head down on a dirty coffee-table and calling him ‘sucker’, his shirt ripping open a bit as he…
Ok. PC Brad Virtue wasn’t his actual name. I made that up. It was probably Ian Smith. Or Gareth Gubbins. But he’s Brad Horatio Virtue in my head, and he has a sword he uses to toast marshmallows on. No thief can take my imagination.