Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Goin’ robbin’: a copy-cat crime - Anne Rooney

‘What’s the point in robbery when nothing is worth taking?’
Adam Ant

There’s a rather shabby but serviceable yellow and gold console table painted with Chinese scenes in my front room, a cut-glass bowl full of oranges in the kitchen, and a white porcelain candlestick on the dining table. They are the wages of sin. It’s not a high wage (it’s even lower than the wages of writing), but I am smugly satisfied with these modest objects. And the sin? Daylight robbery.

I know that strictly speaking my skip robbin’ activities are illegal. But I can’t see the point in a law that says a cut-glass fruit bowl should be crushed and used as hardcore, or that a table is better minced up for mulching the council’s flowerbeds than holding a pile of papers three feet off the floor. Those 1920s tins for flour and sugar are put to better use holding pet food than being crushed and recycled. And my daughters learned to be pretty good at French cricket with the bat and gloves (but no wickets) from the skip at their primary school. At Christmas, I moved up a notch, taking advice on avoiding the CCTV, and rather startling my daughter’s friends by announcing I was goin’ robbin’ on New Year’s Day. The result is a compost heap which I hope will become a home for snakes and might also produce compost that I will forget to use.

As a child, I thrilled to Arrietty and Peagreen’s pilfering in the Borrowers books, and Great Uncle Bulgaria directing Womble operations on Wimbledon Common. I am not as inventive as Arrietty, Pod and Homily, and too large to make a bedroom from cigar boxes. But I try to ‘make good use of bad rubbish’, as Great Uncle B demands. My robbin’ exploits are copy-cat crimes, not in the league of those who carry out Clockwork-Orange style atrocities, but still sparked by admiration for fictional role models.

So I plead guilty, m’lord – but I was under the influence of literature. I admit to having more than 80 milligrams of culture per litre of blood and no, I won’t sign up for detox.


Lucy Coats said...

I can definitely see you in that Uncle Bulgaria woolly hat, Anne. Don't worry about the fuzz--what you are doing is freecycling, which is totally within the credit crunch zeitgeist, and quite legalish, really. But I have to say, I would LOVE to watch your Borrowers/Womble defence in a court of law. M'lud would probably have an apoplexy (if such a thing were not now called, rather boringly, a stroke) and his wig would fall off. (People in Georgette Heyer have apoplexies, you will be glad to hear.)

Katherine Langrish said...

Anne, that table is lovely! ...Next time, can I come too?