Most days, you avert your eyes from the woolly carnage. You turn the other rosy winter cheek. You've got both your gloves, thanks, your hands are nice and warm and you aren't that interested in a damp, trampled child's mitten. But on another day last week, I saw this:
Wait, hang on… that looks like… is it…? Yes. It is. It is a Jo Gordon scarf. A beautiful Jo Gordon scarf. Precisely the kind of scarf, in fact, that I have coveted for years. The kind that is four times as expensive as the usual scarves I buy. Also, I really like stripes. Look, here are some of my other scarves:
Soon, my brain was grappling with the politics of keeping the pavement-kill scarf. Firstly, given its obvious superior quality, it had clearly been lost, not abandoned. Its owner had simply failed to notice it being lifted away by the breeze, so intent was she (I'm assuming) on pedalling the bicycle-cum-wheelbarrow that steel-thighed middle-class mums now like to transport their brood to school in. Or it had been mangled under the wheels of a pushchair. In picking it up off the wall, I would, to the passing and curious, look like a) a thief or b) a vagrant. Unless… I picked it up with a kind of fabricated whoop of relief, a Surprised Face and a cry of, 'Thank God, it's found. My scarf! MY scarf. I've felt so worried! And so poor because it's really expensive. And also stripey.' To be honest, this was a tall order for my GCSE in drama.
Anyway, whichever way I chose to appropriate the scarf, it was a high-risk operation given the insularity of Dulwich's middle-class hangouts. I could never relax and enjoy a roasted vegetable and tapenade sandwich in one of the area's lifestyle cafes, or join the snaking queue outside the organic butcher, for fear of someone tapping me on the shoulder and saying apologetically, 'Excuse me, I think you might be wearing my scarf..?' In which instance, I would obviously have to say, 'No! Of course not! What on earth do you mean? What's that? A name tape? Oh yes. Yes, that's my name. Oh, it's yours too. What an ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE COINCIDENCE.'
I did not take the scarf. The next morning, it was gone. But a little further down the road I saw this:
A banana skin, on a narrow wall, under a tree. So, maybe that scarf had been left out in the cold to make me look like an idiot if I couldn't help but take it. And now, someone was trying to play one of the neighbourhood squirrels for a fool.