Sunday, 17 May 2009

Are the doors locked, daddy?

We always lock the front door. All the time. But two years ago I'd bought a new bike and I'd cycled home ahead of the rest of the family, then left the door unlocked for them to get in. When they arrived they put their bags down in the hall and left the door unlocked. And sometime in the next half-hour, somebody walked into our house and stole a small amount of money. I was dialling 999 when Sally found her turquoise 'Nemo' purse was empty. She let out an anguished howl and the Police were round at the house in a matter of minutes.
Sarah had actually seen the women as she 'made good her escape' (as they say) so she went off in the patrol car while I dealt with a little girl in shock. We drew pictures of the thief and tore them up, we talked about the reasons somebody might walk into a house and steal a small girl's pocket money and I lied about how long she might end up in prison. That night, we checked and double-checked the doors and windows, establishing a routine that would become wearyingly familiar in the next few weeks and months.
And years? It's over two years now since someone randomly and opportunistically decided to try our front door and nick some small change and my daughter's pocket-money. Gone are the days of double-checking every door before bedtime. We don't have to go upstairs with Sally every evening 'just in case'. I even thought she might have forgotten the entire episode. And then, with Charlie safely tucked-up in his cot, some good stuff on the telly, Sally in her Pj's on her weekend 'stay-up' and with me unwinding on the sofa with a glass of vino, I hear the words I thought I'd never hear again.
Talk about a victim impact statement.
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