Right. There are always people floating around this blog claiming boredom. Well, fair enough – that might explain why I have any readers in the first place. But as we all know, the Devil makes work for idle hands. Rather than let him do that, I am going to make some work for idle hands myself. We’re going to find my suitcase.
The story is that I was coming back from Montreal late on the evening of July 26. I’d actually flown in from Toronto; it was a pleasant flight, it was a nice pink sunset and I was in good spirits, though naturally a bit tired (I’d left at 5.30am, local time, to catch the first leg of my flight). I looked up at the welcoming light from the second-floor window of my flat and thought that it was good to be home. The taxi driver, who’d been a cheerful fellow throughout, asked me some questions about his route back into Central London, which I was happy to help with. We parted on good terms. I got out of the cab and thought about how I’d get in and put the kettle on and Mrs Watson Howes would have a cup of FUCK IT I’D LEFT MY SUITCASE IN THE BACK OF THE CAB. I’D LEFT IT. I knew immediately. I sprinted down the hill after the disappearing car. But a car is faster than a man. I was left at the bottom of my road, scanning the horizon vainly in case the cab turned around.
It was gone.
It could have been a lot worse: I never let my laptop out of my sight, so it had travelled in my hand-luggage and I’d worked on the flight. Had I been a less work-crazed character and packed it into my case, I would have lost approximately 700 hours of work (some backed up, but a lot, it must be said, not). As it was, the suitcase was relatively empty – it had only been a short trip. Still, it contained a suit jacket which I always used to wear on stage; two of my favourite T-shirts for performing (though not the bear one, happily), and a whole load of pants and socks and other assorted clothing. At least one of the T-shirts was a find from Melbourne and will be very tough to replace; the jacket had sentimental value and, again, it’s hard for me to get sufficiently skinny jackets; plus on top of this, the bloody suitcase itself cost something shocking like £300.
So, could’ve been much worse, yes, but could also have been better, in that I could have not lost the sodding thing.
Still, even after I’d stayed up late in case the cabbie came back and honked his horn outside (he didn’t), I remained optimistic. That’s what I do these days, right? Well, I thought, he’ll realise sooner or later that I must have been the one to leave the case, and he’ll come back. And if not, he’ll do what taxi drivers are meant to do in this situation: hand it in to police. The police will examine it in case I left it with the aim of blowing someone up. They’ll satisfy themselves that I didn’t. They will pass it to the Transport for London lost property office on Baker Street. Who will call me when they get it.
That’s what is meant to happen, according to the website and the man I spoke to from TfL. But it didn’t. I registered the loss, I gave them all the details, I waited, and… nothing. Eventually I got a call. ‘Did you lose a red suitcase, containing various clothes, etc?’ asked the caller, reading laboriously from a sheet. Yes! yes! I said. ‘I’m afraid,’ he said, ‘we haven’t found it.’ OK. Good.
So. Maybe the cabbie didn’t hand it in. Maybe he kept it. Sold it. Or just didn’t bother. But it doesn’t seem likely – he seemed a nice guy. Surely you’d hand it in. Maybe not straight away, and in an extreme case perhaps he was going on holiday and it would take a few weeks, but eventually. Surely. The idea that he spotted the case, held onto it, and then flogged it and its contents seems rather far-fetched somehow.
OK, so maybe another passenger took it. But would you do that? Lug a huge great case out of the back of a cab on the off-chance something good was in it? Knowing that the driver was probably aware it wasn’t yours to take?
What else? It went to lost property, but someone ELSE claimed it? Not very likely. It went to the wrong lost property office? Possible, but that one seems to serve the whole of London’s taxi network. The driver was ambushed that same night and someone made him drive to the Scottish Highlands, where they abandoned the car, tied him up and escaped on a plane to Brazil? Plausible, even likely, but still flawed: why would you go all the way to the Highlands to fly to Brazil when it’d be quicker from say West Wales? And why involve the cabbie?
The more I think about it, the more I think that, while it’s easy to shrug and go ‘well, I left it in the cab, I I guess that’s it’, it SHOULDN’T be it. Admittedly, I WAS a cretin to leave it and I do kind of deserve to lose it, but with my commitment to positive thinking, I don’t think I ought to be resigned to that outcome. As you’ll know if you saw my recent (ramshackle) Edinburgh previews, I’ve come to believe that all problems can theoretically be solved and all facts are theoretically findable in this age of the internet. Well, perhaps some aren’t. But this one bloody is. That suitcase still exists, so do its contents; the universe hasn’t just magicked them away.
We are a very good team. We can do this.
Here are the facts. It is a red Samsonite suitcase with a sort of ribbed hard shell. It’s medium-sized, wheely. As I mentioned, it contains clothes – that’s about it. That should be enough to identify it. It ought to be in the care of Transport for London somewhere. Or it could be anywhere else in the country. Those are the clues. They should surely be enough.
I don’t care how we approach this, but I want that suitcase back. I’m prepared to offer a reward. If you find my suitcase I will do a gig in your house. If you find it WITH THE STUFF STILL IN IT, I will serve refreshments to your friends and family beforehand.
You don’t have to work alone. In fact, the more teamwork we use, the more chance we have of cracking this. In such case as the problem is solved by a team of two or more people, they will of course all be invited to the reward gig, and the group will be asked to decide amongst themselves who ought to have the chance to stage it.
This competition is ongoing. I want that damn suitcase. I’m prepared to go to considerable lengths. Even as considerable as writing a blog, sitting back and crossing my fingers. Don’t let me down.
UPDATE. There are a couple of pieces of important information if you’re going to be able to help with this.
-It was a black cab, that is, a registered London taxi;
-It picked me up from Paddington station at about 10pm on that Tuesday night, and dropped me around forty minutes later at my flat in Crouch End, North London.
-I don’t (of course) have a record of the number plate or the cab number or any of that business. But still. Good luck.
-Oh, and naturally I have already given all this to the lost property people. It didn’t work. We need to look beyond the obvious. As I said, good luck.