By Red Hugh
Later this year myself and a few friends will gather to celebrate – come to think of it, that might not be the right word – our entry fifty years ago into secondary school, a place in Donegal that made Colditz seem warm and inviting.
The priests were, I still contend, SS trained. But despite my advancing years I’m still young at heart, up for new experiences. And last week I got one. I was pickpocketed in Spain.
Let me set the scene. We arrived in Torrevieja after a red eye flight from Dublin. We went to a pub for something to eat, had a few drinks and the wife was told about a market the next morning in the small town of San Pedro. Nothing would do but we go there.
Despite the clear absence of tourists it was extremely busy when we got there, crowds milling around.
I have as much interests in markets as in studying the hind legs of a donkey so I just strolled behind her picking up the odd shoe, looking at the incredibly cheap watches and wondering who actually bought this crap.
People were bumping and shoving into each other and I was vaguely aware every so often that someone was very close but that was about it. And then for some unknown reason I put my hand down to a zipped pocket in my trousers to feel for my wallet … it was gone.
Just like that I turned around and there were two women, I believe they were Romanian, standing right behind.
“Give me back my wallet,” I shouted.
I really did roar. Actually, I should be accurate here …I said, “Give me back my f…wallet.”
And with that a really frightened looking younger woman, who had been standing behind the older woman, threw it at me.
I’m a rather large man with white hair and a white beard and when people stopped to stare she must have panicked.
But they were far from cowed. The ‘mother’ tried to suggest, by means of gestures, that it had somehow fallen on the ground and she had simply picked it up.
These two were professionals. The one in front had already moved the wallet off her person so that she could hold up her hands and say, “look, I haven’t got it” but I must have interrupted this aspect of the move before it was successfully completed.
They obviously make a living doing this. It was more luck, some sort of instinct that made me check my pocket; I hadn’t felt a thing. Believe me, ten seconds later I would have been way too late.
All my money was in it, plus my driving licence and other documents and personal momentos of family.
Nothing hugely important but things that would cause me a hell of a lot of nuisance to replace. So a bit of advice this year if going on holidays – don’t be like me, stay alert in crowded places.