I had a very lazy start this morning – I’m ashamed to admit – but some good did come out of it! Having set out breakfast for the students, I went back to bed with the dog for company (he makes an excellent nap partner), and slept for ages.
I woke up appalled at my laziness at 10.30 am (I could make excuses about not feeling well, blah blah, but I won’t), and it still took me another quarter of an hour to actually get out of the bed. Then I remembered with a start that I needed to change our Russian student’s bed before he came home from school, so without bothering to shower or get washed, I got busy with that. Dusting his windowsill with the dirty pillowcase (as one does), I noticed two people behaving slightly oddly in the road opposite the house. This is South London and people behaving very oddly isn’t that unusual really, never mind slightly oddly, but this man and woman caught my eye, and I watched them, thinking that they might be about to break into the parked car they were leaning against. Ours is a busy street with passers-by walking up and down all the time, and this couple would move off and then double back. Then they went to the gateway to one of the houses opposite and the woman waited at the gate while he kicked/ran against the door (door and downstairs windows are hidden by a tall leylandii hedge), he came back to her and they stood together for a few seconds before he did it again. Then they walked off, and I went to fetch the ‘phone just in case (that cordless ‘phone has been a fantastically useful purchase). They walked round the corner and then came back, and went up to the same house again.
I rang 999. As soon as I dialled I started thinking I was over-reacting, and that I should have looked for the local station number. And, of course, I had to start talking: “address, location, there’s a couple behaving strangely,” I start to say feeling embarrassed, shamefaced, then comes the sound breaking glass as the window in that house is smashed, and suddenly I know my ‘phone call is justified.
And, of course, I am still unwashed and in my dressing-gown.
So I grab some clothes, enlist my father-in-law’s help (“great excitement, took me back to my army days” he said later) to direct police to the right address, and get changed in front of the window so I can keep watch. Police came quickly and went in with their truncheons at the ready. They arrested the woman, but the man escaped out the back of the property and they are still searching for him. I had to give a statement which took ages, but we are all very satisfied that someone was caught red-handed.
I have finally been able to get showered and dressed properly, and the last few police have just left (three hours after having arrived). Curiously, the car I thought the couple were going to steal, has just been towed away by the police – it did have a parking ticket on it so I guess it was just a bad day for one driver to overstay on parking!
Since I started writing this,
- I’ve spoken to the next door neighbours of the house that was broken into – the man was in and heard nothing
- our Russian student has returned and I have tried to explain everything to him – the police and the tow-truck had attracted his attention coming in, funnily enough. My first explanation, starting with “I was in your room changing the bed. . .” failed rather, although it did elicit the appropriate alarmed look. However, when I finished my explanation he said, “I still have bed in room?” Worries about spending the next week sleeping on the floor allayed, and using rather better mime, we finally got there. . .