11 July 2019, The Tablet

I remember the hot-and-cold feeling when I thought I had been pickpocketed in church


I remember the hot-and-cold feeling when I thought I had been pickpocketed in church
 

A woman in the row in front of me in church had a neat little glossy cardboard bag on cords of the kind that smart accessory shops insist on handing out. While she knelt, it sat on the seat behind her, exposing its neatly stowed contents: house keys, mobile phone, a wallet.

So I said at an opportune moment: “Excuse me, you should look after that more carefully. Thieves come in here and it would be a nuisance to lose it all.”

Except I didn’t say that; the opportune time never arrived. I didn’t want to distract her from her prayers, and once the priest was halfway down the aisle afterwards, she was out of the place like a rabbit that hears a ferret’s squeak.

People must be robbed in church all the time. I mean it’s nice of them to think they can leave their bags on the bench while they go to Communion, but it’s not on.

I remember the hot-and-cold feeling when I thought I’d been pickpocketed in church on Christmas Eve in Mexico City. It disturbed my train of thought all right. It turned out I was doubly an idiot, because I hadn’t been dipped at all, but had just put my passport and money in the wrong pocket.

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