I started writing this post on Tuesday on my way back from work and it began something like this:
‘Now I’m back to work and the weather has taken a turn for the chillier, following an unseasonably warm Christmas, it now really feels like January and that the New Year is truly here.
And 2016 has started pretty well.
New Year’s Day saw us enjoying a late breakfast with an Ella recipe of baked apple and cinnamon oats (totally delish and like eating pudding for breakfast – recipe below) and a NutriBulletted kale, strawberry, blueberry and chia juice, before heading out for a 6 mile stroll across Hampstead Health. Although it was pretty grey and drizzly, that only made the cup of tea and browse of the books in Waterstones at the end of the walk all the more pleasurable, and that evening we especially enjoyed our sofa-for-two at the Hampstead cinema, where we curled up and watched the latest Star Wars movie.
Saturday saw us at Park Run first thing (although I admit to putting in a shocking performance, hampered by a very runny nose!) and in the afternoon, while R went to watch the football, I booked into a Vinyasa Flow class at a yoga centre near our house in north London. This was just what I needed to reset post-Christmas and I finally feel like this year I’m making peace with my body, accepting it and working with it (rather than against it) to get stronger.
On the way home I picked up the ingredients for my favourite winter butternut squash, parsnip, chilli and ginger soup, a vat of which I had ready for R’s return from the rather cold and wet Bradford match.
On Sunday I…’
The post stopped there, rather abruptly, as this was the point at which I was mugged, and my phone, where I draft many of my blogs, was stolen.
And so from an (almost nauseatingly) idyllic start to 2016 to a really rather horrid turn of events.
It was quite a surreal experience: one minute I was hot-footing it down the road, racing back from work to get ready for running club, the next, a motorcyclist had mounted the pavement alongside me and snatched my phone from my hand.
He was accompanied by two other helmeted figures on bikes and the three of them revved away, glancing back at me on the pavement. My immediate instinct was to run after them (not easy in heels and with a handbag), yelling at them to come back. I don’t know what I thought I’d achieve, but I wasn’t prepared to just let it go. They even circled back round the roundabout, causing the cars around to beep, and for a moment I thought they were coming back towards me; that they would give my phone back; that it was all some awful prank; but they sped off seconds later.
I was only moments from my front door and luckily R was home. He calmed me down as by that point I was shaking and crying in disbelief and rage, panic and shock.
Someone had seen the incident and had called the police, so when I called them they were already in the area. When they arrived they were so kind, patient and generous with their time and really helped to put me at ease (a massive thank you Met Police!).
I won’t go into the details of all the subsequent time spent changing passwords and trying to protect my data, as although I immediately alerted my phone company that my phone had been stolen, they said it could take up to 24 hours before the phone and sim were blocked. Needless to say it was not the Tuesday evening I had planned.
I didn’t sleep well and kept replaying the incident in my mind, thinking of all of the things I could have done differently – what if I’d left work a little later, or not decided to add to my step count by walking from Highbury and just got on a second train? What if I’d simply not taken my phone out of my pocket at that moment? I wondered if, in my wedge-heels and with a handbag, as opposed to my usual pumps and rucksack, I looked like an easy target. I even searched online for advice on ‘how to avoid being mugged’ so I could see if I’d left myself too open to attack. I also looked up self defence classes in the area, not because realistically in that situation I could have done anything, but because right now I feel like a victim and I want to feel re-empowered.
I didn’t want to leave home on Wednesday morning, but I was determined not to let the incident phase me and I took my usual walk to the station. Heading out in the light was ok but the walk back in the evening wasn’t great; I was jumpy and my ears pricked up at the sound of every motorbike.
Over the past few days my emotions have fluctuated between feeling incredibly angry, particularly whenever I see a motorbike, suspicious that it is them again, stomach-sink-ingly frightened, and horribly vulnerable and helpless, expressed in spontaneous moments of crying.
I know that I’m incredibly lucky that it was just an opportunistic mugging, that I wasn’t hurt and that it was only my phone that was taken, but that doesn’t detract from the sadness I feel that there are three people out there in such a bad situation, and with so little compassion, that they would steal from someone on their way home from work, leaving them feeling victimised. I suppose my overriding feeling is a sadness at a loss of faith other people and, that from a perhaps rather naïve optimism in the inherent goodness of others, I suddenly feel suspicious and defensive.
I’m sure these feelings will pass, and the year will get back on track soon.
Until then, stay safe.