Thursday, 24 September 2009

I have had an eventful few weeks resulting in my spending less time in the blogosphere than usual and of which a high point was a visit to Barcelona. The trip was not my idea. Barcelona did not strike me as a place of more than superficial cultural or historic significance but the idea was of a brief family holiday when we could all be together before the young lady goes off to college and our life changes for ever. Up until this it could be said that our family summer holidays had become somewhat repetitive even to the extent of being formulaic. I for one, however, see little case for changing a winning recipe. Having, arguably, settled into something of a rut with the caravanning holidays in France, there was something to be said for a change. In the event there was to be somewhat more novelty and excitement than I might have imagined. There were both good and less than satisfactory experiences.

To begin with, there was sunshine and warmth- the former being a change from my experience of most of the summer here this year- and a very pleasant hotel room with a balcony from which we had a view of some of the spires of the Sagrada Familia church. On the first evening, however, while descending an escalator I was the victim of pickpockets who made off with my wallet containing two credit cards and a small amount of cash. As I neared the bottom of the escalator the man in front of me dropped something with a clatter and crouched down to pick it up. I found myself in a panic struggling to avoid falling over him and being pushed over by the crush of people who came against my back. Somehow I managed to stay upright and, having got off the escalator saw the man who had caused the kerfuffle looking intently at a mobile phone which I presumed to be the dropped item. Marvelling at the man’s apparent witlessness, I exclaimed to my son, who had been somewhat ahead, “Did you see that?” My description of events prompted his suggestion I check for my wallet and, consequently, the discovery of its loss.

Until that moment I had conceived of pickpockets as individuals operating alone. Here, however, I deduced that at least three people were involved- the man who had caused the distraction had been accompanied by a woman who had blocked the free side of the escalator and, additionally, there was the person who actually lifted the wallet. It was a discomforting thought that I had been picked off, as it were, like the animal separated from the herd and set upon by predators as one occasionally sees in wildlife programmes. It was not a pleasant start to the visit and meant that in travelling around we were constantly on the watch for anything suspicious. Nevertheless, in spite of both this and earlier misgivings, we were able to enjoy some interesting sights- and insights, some of which I hope to share in future posts.

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