I regularly portray our neighbourhood as an existential vacuum bereft of all human activity, life and character, but I’m really just trying to keep property prices high by hiding the fact that it’s a criminal hot-bed. Here's the truth - last night I accidentally left my car open, and what do you know, some audacious larcenist took advantage during the night and pilfered my supply of quarters from the little compartment between the two front seats. Naturally I feel violated, and have just come back from six hours of counselling with the Montgomery County Police Department’s Victim Liaison Officer. But when she'd refused for the seventh time my impassioned plea to be gagged, handcuffed to a chair, and thrashed with her leather-bound portfolio outlining the sixteen stages of post-crime trauma, I decided to cut my losses and leave.
Given that apart from the odd shuffling dog and its owner there is rarely anyone stalking our streets after dark, I was surprised that someone had spotted the giveaway raised lock knob, and then bothered risking a look inside. I’d guess the perpetrator was a criminal virgin, likely aged 14-16, who impulsively stuffed his or her pockets with quarters, then panicked and ran – there were still a couple of bucks in silver left behind, and he or she didn’t bother to close the door. I only hope they spent it wisely on cider and cigarettes.
Like most teenagers, my petty thief has no taste. Insultingly, they ignored all the CDs in the car – Lucinda Williams’s throaty classic Car Wheels On A Gravel Road, Swedish dance goddess Annie’s poppy Don’t Stop, and the beautiful new Midlake release The Courage Of Others. Another survivor was Bizarro, The Wedding Present’s 1989 second album. I borrowed this off my mate Kenneth, because we’re going to see the band next week at The Black Cat, and they’re playing the album in its entirety. The CD was in his basement when his house burnt down a couple of weeks ago, but as we were touring the wreckage he found it in his football kit bag, and it still plays fine. Now it’s survived a double calamity - smoke-stained, and possibly fingered by a felon, but nonetheless bravely cranking out gritty northern English indie-pop on a perfect east coast, spring afternoon. Message to today's youth - if you're going to be a sneaky, snivelling little crook, at least nick something decent. If you don't know which is the best CD to steal, just knock on the door and ask.