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Saturday 22nd March 2003

I have been the victim of a rubbish and annoying crime for the second time in four months.
We arrived in Gloucester with everything we need for the next six weeks in a rented car (so that we can dump it at Heathrow tomorrow when we fly to Glasgow). Gloucester seemed to have a surprising air of menace, like many smaller towns where the youths have nothing much to do. But also, of course, the ghost of Fred West haunts the streets, which possibly adds to the awkward atmosphere in my imagination, at least. Simon Streeting and me were reluctant to lug our heavy suitcases into the hotel, so thought we’d risk leaving them in the car in the hope that anyone strong enough to lift them, would find paid employment as some kind of circus strong man.
I also had an empty bag which I planned to transfer some of my stuff into, because my bag was almost too heavy to lift (I’d filled all remaining space with programmes in the hope of taking a few over to Oz). But seeing the kids aimlessly bashing a football around the car-park as we went to the hotel, I must admit I did worry that we were making a mistake. Arriving in Australia with no clothes or possessions would be annoying.
When Simon went to the gig, he parked the car in a backstreet behind the Guild Hall. He was uneasy about doing this, but there was nowhere else to park, so he hoped for the best.
We had a lovely gig and afterwards I chatted with several very friendly and pleasant Gloucester residents (they are not all like Fred and Rosemary West as I had, possibly unfairly, expected – though one of them did tell me that her dad was a policeman who had met Fred several times in the course of his job [for minor crimes before the extent of his work was revealed] and he'd said Fred was a lovely friendly bloke. So I wasn’t going to fall into the trap these smiling Gloucester fools were setting me. You can't trust them. You certainly wouldn't one of them moving in next to you). When it was time to go we carried the props back out to the car. We were relieved to see it was still there and our suitcases remained untouched (but visible through the window) in the boot. It was only when I moved round to the passenger door that I noticed the small back passenger window had been smashed. We looked again at our possessions in the boot and it seemed that nothing had been touched. It would have been such a nightmare if we had lost everything. So had the thief just been disturbed mid-theft?
Then I saw what had gone. It was my completely empty transfer bag. So some sneak thief had spotted it on the back seat, smashed the window, opened the door, grabbed it and run off, unaware of the suit-cases in the back which contained quite a few saleable pieces of electrical equipment, DVDs, clothing and programmes about cocks. Maybe they’d attempted to take them, but realised the bags were too heavy for a human to carry.
Instead they’d run off with the nice light piece of hand luggage. So light, of course, because it contained nothing but the air that was in any case in plentiful supply all around the criminal mastermind.
I had planned to just dump the bag in any case, if it hadn’t turned out to be necessary to use (which was the case as we used up more programmes than expected at the gig tonight and would need the extra ones for Glasgow), so aside from the broken window the thief had done me a favour. Though like the blokes who got my bike, I suspect the thief just dumped his booty when he realised how rubbish it was! From my experience it seems that these criminals might make as much money if they just went round asking people if they had finished with stuff. And in that way they wouldn’t cause the expense of repairing stuff after their heavy-handed crimes.
And though it was quite an exciting end to the evening (rather than the usual depressing anti-climax) I had to admit that it was hardly the worst crime that had ever been committed in this town. I doubt very much whether this was the work of a certain curly-headed, grinning-faced ghoul.

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