So, I got my laptop nicked.
If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll already be weary of the trials, tribulations and swearing that followed.
I hadn’t backed up – I have two separate external hard drives, but both had stopped working. I know I should have backed up online (or in the ‘cloud’ if we really must) but I never seemed to have time to sort out the best way of doing so.
I was in the Jolly Butchers last Wednesday. I was filming for a TV programme, and after that it was Emma Cole’s leaving do. Emma has made the beery reputation of the Butchers, and now she’s defecting to the Spotted Dog in Brighton. (Brighton, you are lucky to have her.)
At 6pm I put my laptop bag down beside Emma’s chair. At 10.05pm I went back to it, and found the bag thrown under the table, with no laptop in it. I know the timings because I spent the following day watching CCTV footage from two angles, and saw myself do these things.
I also saw a photo shoot to celebrate the Butchers being named ‘Beard-friendly pub of the year’, and a giant panda emerge from the toilets and go outside. But even though the party table was in the middle of the screen from one of the security cameras, I did not see anyone go under the table, pick up a laptop, or put one in their bag. At no point is the table left empty – there are always at least three people – people who were part of our crowd – sitting down at it. You’ve got to admit, these bastards are good at what they do.
And I’m stupid. Really, really stupid.
Look at those timings again: I left a very expensive laptop with every single piece of writing I’ve ever done, all my music, my accounts, all my photos, alone for four hours in a public place. For half that time I was standing outside the pub.
I’m only writing this now as a cautionary tale, because I’m not the only person who is this stupid.
The Jolly Butchers is a lovely pub, one of my locals, and there’s rarely a time when at least some friends aren’t in it. I feel comfortable there, as comfortable as I do in my home – that’s what great pubs are all about.
But without taking away from that, this comfort lulls you into a false sense of security. You extend your trust to cover everyone in the pub. You start behaving as if you are at home. I wasn’t the only person to leave my bag unattended that night (I wasn’t the only person whose bag was tossed). Every time I’m in this or other pubs, I see bags on backs of chairs with purses and valuables in them. I see phones left on tables when people go to the bar or toilet. I see jackets hanging with wallets in them.
And when I’m out of the pub, I see poster campaigns from the police like the one above, which is currently running all round London.
You never think it will be you – but eventually it is.
As the poster shows, thieves look for the easiest lift they can get. If you make it easy for them – if you INVITE them to take your stuff, as I did – it’s hardly surprising if they accept the invitation.
So I’m writing this to everyone who goes in pubs, who loves them, and feels relaxed in them enough to chill out and forget you’re in public: don’t be the person who makes it easier for thieving bastards than everyone else does. Just keep your stuff with you, and out of sight. It sounds boring. It sounds nannyish. It makes you think of things you’d rather not think of while you’re enjoying yourself. But it’s absolutely necessary.
Oh yes, and do back up your computer. Religiously. Don’t keep putting it off like I did, because shit WILL happen.
Right! Now to start my new book from scratch…