Friday 26 November 2010

Victims of Crime

25th September
I came home from a ‘writing day’ in Harlow to find there was no pushchair on the back deck.
“Where’s the pushchair?” I asked The Doctor as I came in down the back steps. The warmth of the boat hit me as I’d come indoors from the crisply cold September air.
“You’re kidding me?” The Doctor asked turning to look at me. Baby Sister shrieked with happiness and threw up her arms to celebrate my arrival.
“I’ve been a bit naughty and I didn’t eat my dinner,” confessed Big Sister, standing in the entrance to the kitchen.
“It’s not outside. It was on the towpath when I left this morning.”
“We haven’t been out!” exclaimed The Doctor, hastening outside to check. It’s been a wet and windy couple of days. The river is shallow so we have a gang plank out to the towpath. I couldn’t get the pushchair across the gang plank yesterday and had been meaning to ask The Doctor to bring the pushchair on board last night, but I forgot. Still, we are moored by a field, in the middle of nowhere. I wasn’t surprised to find it still safely on the towpath when I left this morning.
“It was here this afternoon,” said The Doctor. “I went outside because I heard the gang plank falling down.” It was a windy day. The question is, was it stolen, or could it have been blown into the water? It is a big heavy thing. This seems unlikely. We stand beside the towpath and peer into the murky water around our boat. There is nothing to be seen. We are outraged. We have little hope of getting it back, but Roydon is a small place; perhaps someone has seen something.
I phoned the police. They have difficulty opening the crime as a case on the computer because I don’t know my postcode. He asks me for the nearest road or street name. I say there isn’t one. There is very little in his computer that relates to any part of Roydon. We settle for Roydon Mill Leisure park, a good twenty minute walk away, as the nearest landmark. He takes my name and a lot of details and says that someone will call me back.
That night The Doctor went to every pub in Roydon (there are three) and spread our tale of woe and asked the locals to keep a look out.
The next day he cycled to Harlow, to check the towpath. Perhaps some dodgy boater has stolen our pushchair? It could be found on another boaters roof. It may be by the wayside, shoved into a tree by local teenagers. Luckily we have a small wheeled, too wide, cheap twin buggy that was given to us a while ago. We keep it on the roof and were planning to sell it. I bundle the kids into it and heave it along the stony towpath. The wheels catch on the grass verges and it bumps over rocks and stones. It is hard work. I mentally mourn my beautiful red double buggy that can take two kids and two loads of laundry anywhere I want to go. It was £300 second hand on eBay. We will never afford a similar one. How will I take these two on public transport to the childminder and the new nursery? I deliver a poster to the lock cottage, where everyone is suitably outraged at the crime that has been committed against us. We carry on to the village and I display a poster in the church hall, for the Busy Bees to see, and another one in the village shop.

“Stolen. Double Buggy.
Red ‘Phil and Teds’ Double Pushchair E3 model
If someone offers to sell you or give you this pushchair
Or if you saw anyone in or around Roydon on Friday afternoon (24th September) with an empty double buggy
please contact Boat-Wife or the local police 0300 3334444.

Many thanks.

Stealing from a family with very young children is offensive and distasteful.
Any information would be much appreciated.”

As I struggled back along the towpath with the wide twin buggy with the small hard wheels grating on the path, my phone rings; it’s The Doctor.

“I can see the pushchair!” He said. “It’s in the river! How near are you? I might need your help to get it out.” We are so relieved! I stopped at the lock cottage to explain to The Husband of the Lady of the Lock that we are not victims of theft after all. Perhaps we are just victims of vandalism. By the time I get home The Doctor has pulled the pushchair out of the cut. It is caked in mud, but it will be ok. It was quite far from where we left it, it was in the river beyond the back of the boat. Was it local kids mucking about, or an extremely strong wind that blew it in there? We’ll never know. I’d better take all those posters in the village down. A few days later the Doctor collected our post from the postbox in London. The Essex Police Victim Liaison Officer had kindly written me a lovely letter saying that he was sorry to hear that on the 24/09/10 I was “the victim of THEFT – OTHER”.

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