That newspaper, I believe, is mine

Posted on October 24, 2011

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Newspaper: hot property

Returning from a recent trip to north Wales, I was very, very bored. Sitting as the train rattled its way through the 15 stations between Euston and Tooting Bec, I thought: what would make this journey less boring? A newspaper.

I could sit and do the crosswords (back and internal – more chance of completing at least one of them), maybe catch up with the day’s news. Help pass the time a little.

I glanced around the nearly-empty train. Left: no chance of a newspaper. Clean as a whistle. Right: same deal. Straight ahead, however, lay my chance. A woman sat, reading a book, but with a paper on the seat next to her. Tucked close up to her leg and a pile of territorial leaflets on top, the paper was clearly hers – the question was, would she take it when she left the train, or could I make a quick dive and claim it before any other bored tube dweller?

I was scoping out the competition, hoping that book-reader would get off at the next station (minus her paper), when a women hopped onto the train, collapsed into a seat, whipped the newspaper from beneath the pile of leaflets and buried herself in it before I could bat an eyelid. Book-reader looked up, incredulous; eyebrows raised, she caught my eye. Was that paper yours, I asked wordlessly? Yes, it damn well was, she silently replied.

Clearly seething but unsure what to do, book-reader returned to her book. What could she do? Had the thief misunderstood, or was she just so brazen that she believed that, if she stayed hidden behind that newspaper, no one would question her right to read it?

The thief stood to exit at the next stop and as she rose, folding the newspaper with a clear intention to take it with her, book-reader stopped her with a touch on her arm.

“Give. It. To me.”

“Oh! Was that yours? I’m…ah….sorry,” the thief stammered, releasing the paper and retreating to the doors before they prevented her escape. Book-reader sighed, folding the regained newspaper and tucking it underneath her novel.

The train trundled along and, as I rose to alight at Tooting Bec, book-reader rose behind me and waited to get off. As the tube pulled away, I glanced back just in time to see the newspaper sitting on book-reader’s seat.

Image from garryknight‘s Flickr photostream.

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