Monday, April 23, 2007


I have just experienced a very odd weekend. I would be suspicious that I was being filmed for some kind of hidden camera prank show or being set up by the conjuror, Derren Brown for something except that, while very weird things have happened, I don't think they have occurred with enough frequency to make a TV show. Let me tell you two stories.

On Saturday afternoon I was with a friend and we were walking back to my house. We stopped while still being a good few hundred yards from home because we saw a jacket that appeared to have been dropped on the pavement. It looked like a smart and presentable jacket. There were no other pedestrians around. We talked about whether or not we should put the jackets somewhere - in the way that people put lost gloves on railings to help the owner find them should they come looking - but decided to leave it where it was because there was nowhere obvious to hang it and we didn't want to look like the kind of people who picked up discarded jackets in the street.

We walked on a couple of yards and then stopped because a couple of friends appeared from around the corner and so there was another conversation to be had. So, the four of us were chatting merrily away when I became aware that there was another presence there. I turned to my left and saw a woman waiting intently for a break in the conversation. I don't know how long she'd been there.

"Hello," she said, "I've written you a letter."
This was a strange thing for a stranger to say, but I shrugged and waited for her to give me the letter. She didn't give me the letter and there was a slightly awkward pause before she then said, "I've pinned it to a tree in the park for you."
"Right," I said, "thanks."
She then turned and left, stopping to pick up the jacket as she did so. Why would someone decide that pinning a letter to a tree was the best way to get in touch with me? What are the chances of someone who has done so bumping into me a few minutes later? What did the letter say? I don't know because, while I did take a stroll in the park it does have a lot of trees in it and I couldn't see which one was being used for my correspondence. Maybe there was no such letter and she just decided to try and weird me out by saying there was, thinking, "Ah ha ha... he will probably look at every tree the fool... ah ha ha ha." which would be a better trick if looking at trees in a park on a sunny Saturday was a more unpleasant way to spend some time. Why was her jacket on the floor, was she lurking in the shadows all along? Was it her jacket or is the kind of person who pins letters-to-strangers-on-trees-in-parks also the kind of person who picks up discarded clothes... the kind of person I'd decided I didn't want to look like? So many questions... so few answers.

I was glad there were witnesses to this little moment of madness because I don't think many people would believe me. But that pales compared to the events of Sunday evening.

It was about 9.30 on Sunday night and I and a friend were watching some TV and having a lazy time of it. Pizza was involved and bellies were full. I heard a key in a door and I heard a door opening and there was a moment before I realised that it was my door opening. Now... no one else should have a key for mine and no one else should be letting themselves into my house at 9.30 on a Sunday evening or at any other time come to that and I jumped out of my sofa and into the hallway. The lights weren't on so all I could see was a figure silhouetted by the street lights behind her. She had a set of door keys dangling from her finger and even in silhouette it was obvious there was not a hint of I'm-doing-something-I-shouldn't about her demeanour. She didn't jump when I appeared in the hallway... which I'm pretty sure I would do if I was a house burglar and the occupier suddenly appeared.

"Hello!" said I.
"Hello," said she without a hint of concern in her voice, "are there some flats up this way?"
There was only one way this way could be and that was up my stairs in what is obviously a small house and very obviously not a block of flats.
"No, there aren't," I said, clearly more flustered than she was by the situation. "What are you doing here and how did you get in?"
"I'm just looking for some..."
I cut her off by turning the hall light on. Surely now she'd realise she wasn't where she was supposed to be. I can't imagine how panicked I'd be if I found myself accidentally letting myself into someone else's home. Even if I wasn't caught by anyone it would set my heart racing and make me feel pretty terrible, worried and extremely apologetic. My desire to get out of the place would be in competition with the desire to apologise and explain and the two would cause untold confusion in my head. She didn't seem to react like that at all.
"What are you doing?" I asked again.
"Oh," she said, finally realising things weren't quite right. "I'm just... um... my keys must be for next door, but they worked on yours... and... you want to get that looked at."
And with that, she turned and left, shutting the door behind her. I wasn't thinking straight throughout the whole encounter... I didn't ask her name and I didn't get to look at her keys or test them in my lock or... or any of the things that I should have done under the circumstances.

Again, so many questions and so few answers. If she was up to no good and had come by a set of keys for my house by nefarious means it was a very strange time to try to get in because anyone in their right mind could see from the lights and the sound of the TV that the place was occupied. If it really was a coincidence, what are the chances of someone trying the wrong door by accident but discovering that they have a key that works? Even if it was completely innocent, I don't like the idea that she has walked away knowing she has a key that works. Maybe she'll realise later that she could burgle me... or get another key cut and sell it to someone else who will... or... or whatever?

In any case, I had my locks changed today. You can't be too careful. If it is part of a Derren Brown magic trick, I hope he'll pay for the locksmith, they're not cheap those fellas.

With things like that happening, I'm understandably cautious about revealing my address to strangers. I paused before I typed this up in case it gave too much away. If the girl who just walked into my house knew it was my house in the first place then she already knows where I live. If she was accidentally (or with bad deeds in mind) walking in and she then recognised the man in the hall who confronted her so inadequately then again she now knows where I live.

No, the only circumstances in which this entry will have revealed too much would be if she was to accidentally stumble across this page of the internet and put two and two together which seems most unlikely. Mind you, a stranger just stumbling into my house seems most unlikely as well. If she is reading this (and who knows, maybe she was freaked out by it and has googled a few choice words to see if such a thing has ever happened to anyone else, say) then please don't come back and try it again.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

I wonder if the jacket lady thought you were somehow responsible for her jacket being left on the pavement, and was trying to illustrate that the pavement is not a coat-rack by obliquely stating that a tree is not a letterbox?

This all goes to show it doesn't do to assume that whoever is nearby is responsible for your jacket being on the floor, I suppose. It still begs the question as to why her jacket was there at all.