Rachel Johnson’s diary
PUBLISHED: 12:00 12 October 2018
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A burglary leads to car trouble which is as insoluble as the Irish Border
Whenever something awful happens at least one wag will wait for me finish my catalogue of disaster and then smirk, “Well, at least you’ll get a column out of it!” and change the subject. This is annoying, I allow, but not as bad as when the dullest of dogs I am talking to only out of a sense of duty on a social occasion gasps, “Now you won’t put anything I say in the papers will you?” It is an iron rule that those who have never even once in their life said something worth repeating, let alone printing, say that.
Anyway, it was my son’s birthday recently and he had ‘friends round’. They were, without exception, attractive, well-presented, polite, educated (and Remainers – but that goes without saying of Manchester University’s recent graduates). After a while I retired upstairs with my laptop to watch Killing Eve on BBC iPlayer, taking my phone with me in order to send him texts as the evening wore on, saying, “Noisy!” and “Even noisier!” At one point I went downstairs and the front door was open. I assumed this was because one of the grads had left it open as the vas-et-vients came and went between 8.30pm and midnight, at which point they all, thank God, left for a nightclub in Brixton.
It was not until the next day that I was collecting myself to be somewhere by 10.30am and started the traditional hunt for keys, credit cards, etc, that I noticed that all the above were missing, as was my handbag (a backpack actually). And iPad.
Oliver had just returned from his all-nighter and was out for the count.
I left the house having sent him a furious series of texts. I assumed one of his mates had taken my bag in error as one of the cards had been used – or attempted to be used – for an Uber that morning, just about the time they were rolling home to bed.
Then I activated the Find My iPhone service and realised we’d been burgled, as my iPad had been turned off. Only thieves would have done that.
Since then, readers, it has been snagging hell. The thieves made off with the one car key to my car, which sits outside my house, with my tennis racket locked in it. I have no ‘key insurance’ with the RAC, according to the call centre, and cannot add on keys to my policy while in the middle of a ‘breakdown situation’.
Let us count the silver linings.
I had my passport. I had one credit card (of which more later). I had my iPhone and MacBook. I had the locks changed so we could secure the house. Then I went to the Apple Store and replaced my iPad and headphones, and bought a smart keyboard. The car trouble, however, remains as insoluble as the Irish border. I do not have a key. There is no spare. It is locked on the street. What if they suspended the bay? This must happen all the time. Somehow, Volvo will have to provide a replacement key from thin air. If they succeed, perhaps there can be technological solutions to the Irish border after all.
Anyway, I was trying to be brave until I had to get to Birmingham (for the Conservative party conference), with the one remaining credit card I had tucked into my iPhone case – ie, that the thieves hadn’t stolen. But it didn’t work at the Tube. Computer said no.
When I called my bank, they pointed out that card had expired. The previous day. And they had already sent a replacement, which – I realised too late – had been in my wallet with the others, my press pass, my driving licence, and a wad of cash.
How was I going to get to Birmingham with no cash, no credit card, and no car, readers?
To have my important dinner with Amber and Kwasi, hosted by big cheese Tory donor and bon viveur Michael Spencer, with “wines from Michael’s personal wine collection” in order to give me Dutch courage for all the people saying, at the sight of me, “But you’re a Lib Dem!”
I hate to leave you on a cliffhanger, but I put my big girl pants on, borrowed a few quid from my neighbour Catherine, who had no cash either, and an Oyster card of hers which may or may not have some money loaded onto it, and headed out to my bank in Fleet Street in the hope staff there could sort me out. I know what you’re thinking, no need to say it out loud. “Well at least she got a column out of it.”