Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Shame Week #3 :: What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever stolen?

When I was 13 years old I made friends with Raymond Moulding, one of my comprehensive school’s lower-echelon bad boys. Ray for short. And he was short.

Ray lived in the next street from me and used to enjoy picking on me every few months or so while we were growing up, just to keep his hand in. Then one day I lost my temper, grabbed him by the throat and pushed him up against a brick wall.

The reason I lost my temper – if I may be allowed to digress for a moment – was because Ray had discovered a repugnant and to his mind hilarious new trick with which to torment me. This consisted of him holding his hand against his bottom, passing wind into his hand and then thrusting said hand into my unsuspecting face whilst spitting the words ‘’Ave a fart’ at me.

We were sitting on a wooden bench along one wall of the giant sports hall at school. A game of indoor cricket was in progress and we were waiting for our turn to bat. So naturally I was already fairly depressed. Imagine by what degree my mood worsened when with the words, ‘’Ave a fart’, I found Ray Moulding’s foetid hand pushing itself into my face.

I don’t actually remember if there was any malodour to speak of, but I was certainly repulsed by the concept, and just the very idea of having this ghastly bastard’s sweaty little mitt in my face. I was disgusted. No doubt this showed on my face, causing Ray to dissolve in a small burst of rancid giggling. My disgust mounted. I really didn’t want him to do it again.

He did it again.

Up went the hand. Out came the same line. ‘’Ave a fart.’ (It repulses me just to have to write it.) On came the giggles.

To my left was Alan Dowell, a school non-entity like myself. When Ray had recovered from the desperate amusement he was causing himself, he said, presumably to himself, or perhaps to the devils in his head, ‘He’s dying to laugh’ – meaning Dowell – ‘and he’s dying to cry’ – meaning me. And what made that such an unforgivable thing to say is that he was absolutely right. There were tears pricking at the backs of my eyes. I swore at him. He repeated my curse back at me in a mocking voice even more childish than my own.

Then, maybe thirty seconds later, he did it again. That time, something in me snapped and seconds later I found myself pinning him to the wall, my right fist raised behind my head, ready to smash his stupid, flinching and suddenly quite frightened little face to a miserable pulp. But I didn’t throw the punch. I didn’t have it in me.

Whether it was the fact that I’d finally retaliated, or the fact that I’d shown some sense of restraint or control or whatever he imagined I was showing, I never discovered, but something in that moment made Ray decide that we would be friends. Not great friends, not by a long chalk, and not lifelong friends, but friends nonetheless. And the part of me that was desperate for any kind of friendship didn’t object.

For the most part, Ray’s and my friendship consisted of us playing darts in his bedroom. But also, and finally getting round to the point, it also consisted of going into the town centre, and nicking stuff from shops. Ray had been taught how to nick stuff by his older brother, Nick. Ray in turn passed on the arcane knowledge to me.

‘Pick up two things,’ he said. ‘Put one back.’

I lost my virginity in a local department store which at the time had a small U-shaped sweet section which was a shoplifter’s paradise. You’d walk in at one end, shuffle down the narrow aisle filling your pockets with all kind of goodies, then when you’d turned left twice, you’d reach the day-dreaming checkout girl and pay for a single packet of Polos. Then you’d sashay out into the street trying not to drop anything, take the first left into the nearest backstreet and stockpile your booty. I still remember vividly the feeling of joy when, after one particularly audacious haul, I slid a monstrously large Toblerone out of my sleeve and pulled a Terry’s Jelly Lemon out of the front of my underpants.

So that’s how it started. At first it was me and Ray nicking sweets. But I got a taste for it, so I started to branch out on my own.

After sweets came stationery. I’ve always absolutely adored stationery. Before I started nicking it, I used to just look at it in WHSmith and occasionally treat myself to a pen. When I started nicking I had no need to show such restraint. And what I was surprised to discover was that stationery nicked was twice as sweet as stationery bought.

It was also during this period that I discovered the full extent of how invisible I was. I was just the cowering, self-conscious ugly kid. I wasn’t particularly threatening. I clearly wasn’t going to cause any violence or anything horribly untoward. I was merely an unfortunate retinal sensation which was best, and quite easily, avoided. People either averted their eyes or simply looked through me. And I found I could get away with quite a lot.

From stationery I graduated to pocket-sized toys and games - Top Trumps were especially easy - and from there it was a simple and natural progression to books. Mostly I stole paperbacks I had absolutely no interest in reading. It was odd. Indeed, by the end of my petty criminal career, I was prone to increasingly inexplicable crimes. Anything that caught my eye would find its way up my sleeve or jumper, into my pockets or pants. A wind-up Woodstock. Juggling balls. Novelty pens. Horror novels. I was a regular little magpie, and I became convinced that I had something of a talent for it. Consequently, it became a habit.

Then one day, after having stolen an autograph book from the very same department store where the whole thing had kicked off around eight months earlier, I was sashaying down the street outside of the store, as per my MO, when I heard footsteps behind me. ‘Wouldn’t it be funny,’ I thought to myself, ‘if I suddenly felt a hand on my shoulder.’ Suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder. I stopped and turned to face a tall blonde man who was already reaching into my inside pocket and pulling out the autograph book I’d just taken from his employers’ shop. He then slid one hand under my arm and led me back into the shop. I believe he may have used the words, ‘What have we here?’ and ‘I think you’d better come with me’, but equally, I may just have heard them on the telly.

What I have no doubt about however, is that I said, in a tiny, suddenly petrified voice, ‘What will happen?’ and he repeated it back to me, not mocking me, just echoing, stalling, playing for time. It wasn't his job to converse.

I couldn’t believe it was happening. Other shoppers stared.

I was led into a small back room where a middle-aged woman sat at a table with a phone and some papers in an untidy pile. The store detective sat me down at the table, handed over the evidence to the middle-aged woman and left us to it.

She took down my details. My name, my address, my telephone number. She told me she would have to call the police. As I offered to pay for the autograph book, I started snivelling. Couldn't stop. ‘You should have thought of that before,’ she said. I offered to pay double. She said that wouldn't be possible.

She asked me if I’d ever stolen anything before. I said I hadn’t. She asked me if anyone had ever stolen anything from me. I said that they had. She asked me how that felt. I told her it felt awful, but I was just going through the motions, telling her what I knew she wanted to hear, all the while willing her not to call the police.

‘It’s not nice, is it?’ she repeated.

I shook my head, staring down at the floor.

‘So why did you do it?’

I told her that schoolfriends had pressured me into it. She nodded. She understood. She'd seen it a thousand times.

‘Alright then,’ she said. ‘I’m not going to call the police this time, as this is your first offence.’ I managed not to put my hands in the air and start cheering. I continued looking at the floor. ‘But I am going to telephone your parents.’

‘OK,’ I mumbled.

Score!

My dad answered the phone. It was a short exchange during which I ascertained that he was being his usual scintillating conversationalist.

‘You can go home now,’ I was told. ‘And don’t do it again.’

'I won't,' I said. 'I promise.'

On my way home, I wondered what kind of reception I would get. In the end it was exactly what I feared most: almost total disinterest. ‘Oh, here he is,’ said my mum when I walked through the front door. ‘McVicar.’

My mum was an idiot.

Then she said, ‘What did you get caught for, softarse?’ I didn’t say anything. I shrugged and went up to my room. Thinking about it now though, it was probably something to do with a craving for attention.

Now we come to the answer to the question. The biggest thing I ever stole was not that autograph book. No. The biggest thing I ever stole I stole probably half an hour before that from a different shop, a book shop. The biggest thing I ever stole – probably both in terms of size and value – was a beautiful, sumptuously illustrated, leatherbound bible.

I was a funny boy.

Over the years, as my faith shrivelled away to nothing at all and eventually turned in on itself, becoming a rather violent anti-faith, I came across the stolen bible on a number of occasions. Each time I had a powerful urge to tear it up and throw it away. Partly out of anger, partly out of guilt, partly just out of some weird religious hangover shame thing. But I never did. Not because it was The Bible. But because it was a Book.

That evening, I sat on my bed and took the bible out of my school bag. I flicked through it, found the Ten Commandments, rummaged in my booty drawer and dug out a highlighter pen and a shatterproof ruler I’d previously liberated from Woolies. I found the commandment I was after - Thou shalt not steal - and using the ruler and the very tip of the nib of the yellow highlighter pen, I painted it yellow and stared at it.

And I never, ever stole again.

Much.

Here endeth the lesson.

Amen.



And you? What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever stolen? Spill your shameful beans in the comments...

Thanks.



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33 comments:

Urbane Spaceman said...

I used to shoplift top-shelf porn and sell it to the highest bidder at school. Fortunately I never got caught for that one ...

Now if only the internet had been around then I'd probably never have embarked on that life of crime (possibly, maybe).

Anonymous said...

A packet of Müsli, from a supermarket in Nîmes that doesn't exist any more. In winter, 1980.
I've always been a healthy chap.
Uncle Did

Glamourpuss said...

I stole someone else's husband once - big mistake. In return, I lost my self-respect and the several thousand pounds he 'borrowed' from me. Thankfully, someone stole him from me in return - a lucky escape.

Puss

Anonymous said...

S-- lived down the road. She was 13 and from a broken home. She taught me how to fight, cuss, and smoke cigarettes. My parents hated her. I hung on her every word.

Alzheimer's had just about puréed my grandmother's brains by now. She was lucky if she remembered anything for five minutes. And there was always a reserve of paper money stashed in her purse that my grandfather kept replenishing.

He was gaunt with the illness that would kill him later that year. They were the quintessential old couple, clutching each other to walk down the road, trembling together against age and the elements. They were the last people left alive who loved me at all, and they were dying.

One day S-- was disconsolate, and I finally got her to tell me what was wrong. She was pregnant. She didn't know by whom. (Years later I learned that she had been gang raped by a boyfriend and his buddies.)

S-- didn't know what to do. Her mother would beat her until she couldn't walk. But she did know where she could get an abortion for a hundred dollars. It was more money than I'd ever seen.

The memory of my grandmother's tearful voice when I heard them fighting about the missing money still makes me cringe with shame. My grandmother protested over and over again that she wasn't crazy.

I was pond scum.

S-- took the money and she did what she had to do. And she stopped coming around. Neither of us could look each other in the face.

I ran into S about five years later. She was a sullen junkie. A shadow of herself. And the year after that, my mother saw her on a talk show about people with AIDS. She was a lost cause. She simply never recovered from that gang rape.

I've never forgiven myself for playing Robin Hood.

Forgive me for the cowardly anonymous post. I can't bring myself to put my name on this.

suburbanhen said...

Like you, a book. Unlike you, I was much, much older, and the book was very much one I wanted. It wasn't the first or the only thing I've stolen in my life, but certainly the largest.
My first husband learnt to steal by watching me. We hated paying for razor blades, and during our grocery shop we'd liberate them rather than pay for them (not an easy task as you have to get them out of their 'theft proof' packet). We quit doing it after we suspected that on one occasion we were about to be caught, what with security being called to the section that we were in at the time (fruit and veg).
I also used to steal from my mothers purse, and then from my disabled sisters.
There is no need to point out to me how wrong this was. I am aware.

Michael said...

The year was 1998. I was coming to the end of my tenure as chairman of the school library committee. I felt that I wasn't receiving sufficient credit for my efforts in reorganising the outdated cataloging system.
I stole a copy of Milan Machovec's 'A Marxist Looks At Jesus' as an act of revenge. I doubt that anyone ever noticed.
When I got home I discovered a handwritten note inside detailing the 'evening of evenings' that an anonymous author was set to have with his/her lover.

Our Juicy Life said...

great post. actually it was an avacado and it was 2 weeks ago...but I didn't offically steal it, I guess when I dropped it in my cart it went into my handbag which was sitting in the cart. I didn't notice until I came home. Kinda felt proud though, which is totally sick!

kittyrex said...

Sorry, I can't seem to make my links work.

http://www.blognow.com.au/kittycat/97970/Shame_part_3.html

It's more about the most pointless thing I've ever stolen. There's also a brief, not totally unrelated side excursion into the realm of sheep's balls.

Heidi said...

I wasn't much of a thief. But, while reading your story on stealing I got very excited that someone else has a love of stationery... what is it about stationery?

Our Glamorous Heroine said...

I mostly just stole pens. Those gel pens that write in hideous, luminous, rainbow pastels. What a burgeoning goth wanted with those, I've no idea but I hid them in my room and used to get them out to look at occasionally. I was a strange child.

My mother, however, is much cooler than me. Upon finding herself at Cambridge University, where a May Ball ticket cost over a hundred quid even then, she brazenly shoplifted a ball gown then waded across the river to gatecrash the ball, proudly displaying her damp shoes as a big 'fuck you' to the toffs with more money than anyone she'd ever met before. That's probably not the sort of thing you should admire your parents for but there you go.

And thank you for the blogrolling, what ever that may be. This is a secondary blogging site for me and I should really work out how to use it properly.

Aiko said...

I'm with Heidi actually, the most I've ever stolen is a lip balm type thing from a magazine in a shop. So it was technically free apart from the fact I didn't buy the magazine... That's how I tried to see it anyhow. I must say I was pretty much forced into it. I disturbingly felt I had to do it in order to stay friends with the girl I was with. She was really quite good at forcing me to do things I wasn't happy about. Years later when my sister confirmed she spent the whole 5 years of high school bullying me (as in the friend bullied me not my sis)I still couldn't work out what made me want to be friends with her. A bit off tangent here but she put a bar of Clearasil onto my desk in form class in front of everyone. She was gi-huge and I was told I should have stuck weight watchers in her locker but no, I still wanted to be friends with her.

handrejka said...

I had a thing about stealing lipstick and nail varnish and it was always from the same place. I don't why, I didn't even wear it just kept them all in a box and looked at it now and again. I never got caught. The strangest thing I ever stole was a postcard showing a picture of Leo Tolstoy on one of teacher's walls. The killer is that I found it among my stuff a few years later and sent it back, anonymously. Yeah I was weird.

Andrea

Misssy M said...

I stole a tractor.

But then I put it back again.

You can't hide a tractor very easily.

La Bête said...

Wow, UB, you were like a little Larry Flynt in the making. You perv.

Did, I think the purity and wholesomeness of stealing muesli actually negates the criminality of the theft. You are automatically absolved.

Crikey, Puss. I think you might win. Not sure what the prize is though. Maybe some muesli.

Anonymous, I read most of that post with my mouth flapping open. That’s an incredibly sad story, but you know, you didn’t do what you did out of any kind of malice or badness. You thought you were helping someone who needed your help. Maybe there were better ways to go about it but I’m sure you couldn’t think at the time what they were. It’s sad. I’m sure your grandparents would have forgiven you if they’d known that you were trying to help someone in a desperate situation. You shouldn’t feel bad anymore. You made a mistake, but you made it from a good place in your heart. Please forgive yourself. And thank you for sharing.

Hey, Hen, I wouldn’t have pointed to any wrongness. I’m not out to moralise. Your disabled sisters though? Jesus. Sorry, I’m joking. No need to point out how wrong this is. I am aware. Thank you for sharing.

That’s a great one, Michael It sounds like the kind of theft you might read about in a Sartre novel. Do you still have the note?

OJL, an accidental avocado is no crime at all. I insist that you consolidate on that feeling of pride though and use the old open handbag technique again. This time accidentally drop in a jar of peanut butter and some nachos.

Thanks for that, Kitty. We have those strips in English money too, but only a proper silly would collect them for their scrap value. Shame on you.

Hey, Heidi, I think it’s quite a common fascination. It’s just so cool. There’s nothing like a pen that writes like an extension of your body, like it’s straight from your brain down your arm and out of your nib. And seeing loads of them all stacked up in a stationery section, it’s like Christmas, but in a good way.

OGH, your mum sounds like a classy lady.

That’s sad, Aiko. You were a good kid.

Andrea, you should have confessed on the postcard. I suggest you send another one – maybe one of Dostoevsky – and confess your crime. It’s never too late.

Misssy, did you really steal a tractor? Because now is no time to be playing silly beggars.

Lauren said...

Toilet paper from public restrooms (the unopened ones under the sink...). Student + Budget + Seemingly "free" tp...

Oh, and I regularly steal chocolates from bulk sections. But I eat them immediately.

Mrs. Hall said...

I use to shop lift. A LOT!

But, then i found myself unscrewing a light bulb from a public restroom.

I realized I had myself a problem and it stopped right there!!!

Zoe said...

Like glamourpuss, the largest thing I've stolen is someone else's husband. I mean he's 13 stone, so that's pretty big. But seeing as she stole him from someone else I don't feel too bad. I think he likes being stolen

Anonymous said...

My boyfriend and I, while skint and living in London, used to do dine n' dashes of a weekend.

The first time was so nerve-wracking, I didn't even taste the meal.

The second time it was exhilarating, and by the third and the fourth we became nonchalant.

We were principled thieves, only dining and dashing from large chain restaurants.

I don't regret it, but I still feel bad about the waiting staff, who were always polite and cheerful. Sometimes we'd hide tips for them under our plates before we scarpered.

LyleD4D said...

Like you, books - but lots of them. Mind you, I nicked a bottle of vodka once too - not sure how that compares volume-wise with books.

The bookshop I used to *ahem* "use" had a magnetic detector at the door, but the bits in the books were just bits of card they'd slot in. So it was simple to take out the bits of card, shove books in bag/coat/whatever, and saunter off again.

But I did read all the ones I stole. Even the really bad ones.

Jack said...

Nicaragua.

The fact that no-one's yet noticed just shows how good I am.

DJ Kirkby said...

Earrings with fake rubies. i got caught and sent home in the back of a police car...in a very small town...I never did it again. The shame of everyone knowing just how crap I was at it kept me honest.

Michael said...

Yes I do!

Vicky said...

I once stole a book on ethics from one of those pubs which buy second-hand books by the yard for decoration.

I was doing A Level Philosophy at the time and it was a book which the tutor had recommended, but I hadn't been able to find a copy because it was no longer in print.

I'd had a bit to drink and the idea of stealing a book on ethics just seemed so hilarious that I wasn't able to resist - I did feel guilty the next morning though, but not guilty enough to return it.

Clive For Coffee said...

I shoplifted a pair of jeans from Top Man, a Parka from H&M, and about a billion jazz mags from Mr Choudri's.

They put about a grand on the price of the house, all those jazz mags.

Anonymous said...

I once went on a midnight raid with a couple of friends. Our mission was to bring home the most unusual thing we could steal. We stole a manhole cover! It became part of our living room decor, and many guests commented on it. It was a fun story to tell, too.

Maria

curlywurly said...

I stole an electric hand mixer from Sainsbury's last week, despite never ever before having stolen a thing in my life.

It was a very ordinary day - I did my shopping, queued and paid. I was in a particularly good mood and helped the old lady behind me unload and pack her stuff. It was only on the way out that I remembered I was going to have a look at how much the hand mixers were (creaming sugar and butter is very tiring on the wrist). They were on special offer at ten quid - bargain. I popped one in my trolley and went to customer services just nearby to pay whilst taking back my housemate's broken biscuit tin.

ANYWAY, whilst sorting out the biscuit tin debacle, it occured to me that I didn't want to pay for my hand mixer. So I didn't. It really was as simple as that. I wasn't in a rush, I'm not broke, I just wanted to see what happened.

I breezed out of Saino's without a care in the world - it was easy peasy. I love my new hand mixer. It hand mixes on me. I don't feel remotely guilty, but nor do I have the intention of repeat shop-lifting.

La Framéricaine said...

Stole a lot of stuff but the first big thing when I was 7 was a Barbie out of a big department store in Tulsa, OK. Hid it in the attic of a garage and got little use from it, but stole it just the same.

La Bête said...

Lauren, I’ve stolen toilet paper before too. It’s a bit sad, isn’t it?

Well done, Mrs H, for realising you had a problem. You did, too. Stealing a light bulb from a public loo is utter madness.

Zoe, I wonder if some men really do like to be stolen. I bet they do. Men are weird.

Hey, Anonymous. I like the fact that you had principles while you stole. That’s nice. And leaving tips under the plates was a very nice touch. You were like the Robin Hoods of restaurant swindling.

It’s good that you read them, Lyle. You come out on top for that.

Bad boy, Jack. Give it back immediately. (Bad girl, rather. Just seen your blog.)

Hey, DJ. Do you think if you hadn’t got caught, you might have made a career out of it?

Michael, I want to see it! Please let me see it. Someone should start a website featuring things found in second-hand books. And library books. I found a very old business card with the words ‘DOGS CLIPPED, TRIMMED and SHAMPOOED’ on it. It’s on my wall now. I love it.

Vicky, I quite agree. If you’re going to steal a book, make sure it’s a book on ethics.

CfC, did you get a special thrill from pleasuring yourself to stolen porn?

Maria, you do know that someone could very well have fallen down that coverless manhole and done something physically horrifying? Tut tut tut. That’s almost as bad as stealing a fire extinguisher.

Curlywurly, that’s really interesting. Impulse shoplifting. Maybe the impulse will return another time though. You want to watch out for that.

Bonjour, La Framéricaine. A Barbie eh? Um… Cool!

Newbie said...

Far, far too many things to remember. I still have the remnants of my kleptomania even now, though it was worst during my teens. Looking like butter wouldn't melt and being reasonably well spoken in a home town of quite a strong estury accent saved me from a couple of pretty sticky situations, one of which I convinced the shop assistants that someone had put things in my bag without my knowledge when I put it down in Topshop.

It's all entirely opportunistic these days, and entirely wrong...

Vulgar Wizard said...

Two street signs, still bolted togehter like a plus sign with all the hardware required to put it on the pole it had been removed from by highway workers earlier that day.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps not biggest thing I've ever stolen but the most idiotic -
It was in 2001 and I was working on Cheapside. It was the type of company where you go out to Friday lunch, get pissed for 5 hours, return to the office to turn your PC off and go home.
I'd noticed in one of the local banks that they had some kind of african promotion on featuring inflatable animals.
I ran into the bank, and scarpered with an inflatable gorilla under my arm.
I'm sure that I still have him somewhere, packed away as a reminder of my crime.
Bank robbery........ What a moron.

La Bête said...

Shame on you, Newbie, hiding behind your plummy tones like that.

Wizard, hold on. You stole two signs, as well as lots of tools and stuff? That's just silly. I bet you were a student at the time.

Anonymous, that's an excellent one. One of my favourites. Have a banana.

Sherylificus said...

I think I may have to make this my first comment. I was thinking that I would wait until I had properly caught up, but your Shame Week is proving irresistible.

My stealing career came to an abrupt end when my younger sister got caught for stealing while she was with me. In her bag was some makeup that I'd stolen from the previous shop (they didn't catch on to that), and in my pants were several pairs of earrings that I had stolen from the store she got caught in. I went down to the security centre of the mall, and talked to the security folk about how appalling it was that she had been stealing, and convinced them that I hadn't known she was doing it - while I had several stolen items on my person, which I was terrified would fall out of my pants. On the way home, my sister and I sat down and talked while we systematically destroyed the jewellery I stole, and she made me promise that I would never steal again. I haven't.

But those weren't the biggest things I've stolen.

There are two major contenders:

First, a stop sign (pole and all) that had been torn out of the ground, which my sister and I picked up and started carrying away at four in the afternoon - until a woman yelled at us from her apartment building "Stop! That belongs to the city!". At that point we stashed the sign in a mechanic's lot and hid in someone's backyard until the coast was clear. We came back in the middle of the night to dismantle the thing, and the stop sign and street name lived in our shed wrapped in garbage bags for quite some time, before we smuggled them out to the lake so they could decorate the walls of our fort.

The second contender is a flagpole. A new community sprung up just down the hill from our home, and my brother and I decided to go pick up some of the construction signs that he had happened upon earlier. So, dressed in black, in the middle of the night, we went down to find them. Only to decide that it was going to be nearly impossible to get anything worthwhile. Meanwhile, we kept hearing noises like footsteps on the grass, which was driving me CRAZY. I was convinced that someone was sneaking up on us... until we realized that it was actually a flag flapping in the wind. So we decided that we should cut the flag off, since it was making any kind of surveillance extremely difficult. Having brought my (extremely dull) swiss army knife with me, I figured that I could just shimmy up the pole and cut it off, but this proved more difficult than I had expected. Mostly because the entire flagpole was wobbling while I tried to climb it. At which point we realized that the pole was just sitting in a hole in the ground, and not cemented in place or anything. So we lifted up the flagpole, and pulled it out of the ground. At this point, instead of simply turning it on it's side and cutting the flagpole, we decided it wasn't too terribly heavy... so we elected to carry it home. We left it in the woods behind our house, and cut the flag off, which still hangs in the closet of my old room in the family house. A few months later, my dad started talking about wanting to fly a Canada flag (note: we live in Canada), and my brother and I were cheeky enough to tell him that we had happened across one in our travels through the woods, and that it could probably be brought out for use. However, we'd veered slightly off course coming home with the thing, and left it quite a ways from our normal path - we haven't actually seen it since.

I wouldn't recommend this particular heist though... while it didn't seem heavy at first, once we'd been walking for twenty minutes my shoulders were incredibly sore. I even tried walking with the flagpole on top of my head!

All this aside, you are a delightful writer, Bete. I`ve been spending an appalling amount of time reading through your archives over the past few days - ever since I happened upon this blog. By the time I`m caught up, I hope to have discovered that you have a book deal made. Actually, I realized yesterday that I was confusing your posts with a book, and was frantically digging through my backpack trying to find that book so I could keep reading it.

Cheers,

-C