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This is a question Shoplifting

When I was young and impressionable and on holiday in France, I followed some friends into a sweet shop and we each stole something. I was so mortified by this, I returned them.

My lack of French hampered this somewhat - they had no idea why the small English boy wanted to add some chews to the open box, and saw it as an attempt by a nasty foreigner oik to contaminate their stock. Not my best day.

What have you lifted?

(, Thu 10 Jan 2008, 11:13)
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Security blanket

Funny really: I've little compunction about nicking things from work, and exaggerating an insurance claim is just getting value for money (isn't it?) but I draw the line at shop-lifting; I wonder why that should be...probably to do with the fear of being caught rather than excessive morality.

Still, I did once steal something from a hotel. "Big deal" you say, "Hang on a minute," I reply...

It was exactly 23 years ago this week that it happened. January 1985; for those of you not old enough to remember it, it was one of the coldest Januarys on record; people were dying in the streets of Paris, snow lay thickly, but dirtily on the streets of London and where was Che? He was in Chania in northern Crete. This was the end of my young, free and single wanderings. I'd left the UK in May of 1984, spent a few months in Nice (see: 'beautiful but bonkers'), briefly touched base back in London in September before heading off to pick grapes in the Languedoc Rousillon and then Pfalz region. Back to Nice to visit friends, over to Austria (for Thanksgiving of all things), then Grenoble to work in the ski resorts but found nothing, hence to Crete, where an old school friend was setting up a restaurant with her new husband.

I've touched on some of the characters that were hanging out there when I pitched up - the happy-go-lucky, mis-fitting, easily pleased, hard drinking, young and not-so-young detritus of the World in an earlier post so I won't give too much detail now. Suffice to say that in my small group of friends were British, Australian, Swedish, Danish, Canadian, Brazilian, Colombian, Iranian, German etc. etc. We needed work - some more than others - and found it most of the time: picking olives was the staple, with oranges and satsumas too (if you've never tasted an orange straight from the tree, put it on your 'things to do before I die' list). But then the rain started and the work dried up for a bit, so three of us decided to move south for a bit as someone said there was work there. We got a bus to (I think it was called) Paleochora, a small town on the south coast.

There was Andrea - a 19 yr old, 6' 2", lanky, laid back Swedish burglar, Kerry - a 28 yr old, 5' 5", plump, laid back Aussie chic and Che - 21 yr old, 5' 7", skinny laid back English bloke. We found a very reasonable apartment: three beds, 2-ring electric stove, bathroom, for a couple of quid per person per night and it was only two doors down from a pool hall. It was good to get away from the claustrophobic atmosphere in Chania for a bit and although there was no work to be had, I did meet and fall headlong in love with a lovely Danish girl called Malene. I think the feeling was mutual, but her boyfriend was flying out to be with her in a couple of days.

I decided to go back up north, Andreas and Kerry were going to explore the south for a bit; we checked out of our apartment, and I nicked a blanket. It was a great blanket, made of some synthetic material it was thick and warm but light. It was brown coloured with some sort of a pattern on it so that on one side it was dark brown with a lighter brown pattern with the reverse on the other side. It rolled up fairly small and I was able to squeeze it into my trusty rucksack as well as my knackered cheap sleeping bag. That was the reason I nicked it, my sleeping bag, although fine in the summer in the south of France was proving to be less than adaquate for mid-winter, even in Crete.

When I got back to Chania, things were falling apart. My old school mate left her husband, things had been rough for a while; their restaurant should have opened before Christmas but was destined never to get finished. She had been sleeping with the bricklayer and he had been drinking to forget. The night after I got back I met him (the hubby) and we went for a meal after meeting up with Malene. We had a good night though much drink was drunk; I declared my undying affection for Malene and fell on the floor. Later, a drunken hubby had introduced Malene to his wife, explaining that she would be one of their waitresses once the restaurant opened, she went home, packed her bags and moved out.

We all drank a lot because drink was so cheap and measures were so big. An ouzo cost very little and the standard measure was about the same as a triple back in the UK. My favourite cocktail was the Vodzou - one large measure of vodka and the same of ouzo - the vodka took some of the aniseed flavour off the ouzo and the ouzo masked the nastiness of the cheap vodka. I'd have a couple of these early evening, we'd normally eat at one of the cheap eateries (we called one of them Pigs Balls - as that was one of the dishes on offer) with a couple of large pitchers of local Retsina to wash it down. Afterwards, back to a bar for coffee and Metaxa brandy - the whole evening costing about £3.00 which was about half a day's pay [don't quote me on those, they are rough guesses].

Without realising it, I was drinking heavily and a couple of times when we went on to some night spot or other, I lost a few hours. It may seem amusing but for me it was not. Especially one time when it turns out I'd been very nasty about one of my friends to another one. We were going to travel to Barcelona together, I'd said I was going to dump her when I got to Nice. The next day she told me what I'd said and I realised it was time to go home. I'd gone to bed early and had a particularly disturbing dream - waking suddenly thinking that my Grandma had just died. I spent the rest of the night wrapped in my blanket, chain smoking Karelia Lights and sipping retsina which I'd taken from Reiner's bedside. Reiner, though a friend of ours was a true alcoholic and this was his carefully stashed breakfast drink, put aside before embarking on the night's drinking. He woke up in morning shaking so badly we had to scour the place for some booze for him, but I think I probably felt worse than him. A couple of days later I was heading back home.

We've still got that blanket. I've taken it from rucksack to bedroom, to bedsits, to flats, to houses. When one of us is ill, we bring it downstairs and wrap the poorly one in it while they languish on the sofa. On very cold nights we put it on top of the duvet. It's getting a bit threadbare now but I think it'll last a good few more years yet.
(, Mon 14 Jan 2008, 13:45, 6 replies)
So it all went downhill when you stole a blankett
(, Mon 14 Jan 2008, 14:05, closed)
I think
it had all started to wrong before that, but wrapping myself in the blanket gave me the wisdom to see it clearly. It also kept me nice and warm.
(, Mon 14 Jan 2008, 14:16, closed)
How about shortening your post to...
"I stole a blanket from a hotel once"

And save others from wasting 5 minutes like I did.....

(, Mon 14 Jan 2008, 16:38, closed)
I like this
I think its good. I prefer longer stories like this, as opposed to shorter ones. Entertained me for a few minutes anyway.
(, Mon 14 Jan 2008, 16:45, closed)
Very well written

Perhaps you could add some bullshit, sex or scatological anecdotes to maintain the humour level though?
(, Mon 14 Jan 2008, 17:10, closed)
Thanks for the feedback
Like most people, I will ignore it completly and carry on posting long-winded, well crafted, basically true stories. What I love about the QOTW is the mix of styles and content. Feel free to 'ignore' me - I won't be offended, honest...(sniff).
(, Tue 15 Jan 2008, 9:06, closed)

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