There was a robbery in Rio last night. Ireland’s brilliant world champion Michael Conlon was robbed of a second Olympic medal – and possible gold – by judging that can at best be described as dubious. He described it in rather more direct terms. His lifetime’s ambition, years of hard work, taken from him and there is nothing he can do about it.
Two of the more surreal incidents in my life also involve being robbed.
The first of these was in London around 16 years or so ago (when I bought my first drink. Boom boom). Well, it was about as blatant as the everyday robbery that is London prices anyway. I was mugged by some apparent drug addict in broad daylight on one of London’s busiest streets in the middle of the day. The guy loudly demanded money that I told him I didn’t have, despite having a £5 and £10 note in my pocket, so he proceeded to march me to a cash machine to draw some out for him. He did kindly offer me a spliff for my trouble but I politely declined. Germs and that.
I remember feeling very calm throughout and considering my options. The best seemed to be smacking him and running away but I was on my way for a weekend back home in the North East and was carrying a bag of my things that I couldn’t lug about in a chase. As he was clearly not the most stable of individuals there was also an obvious risk involved.
So I found myself following him up the street looking for a cash machine watching all of these people pass while thinking to myself how bizarre the whole situation was. In the end I couldn’t be arsed with it and told him I had a train to catch so I’d give him a note from my pocket. Reaching blindly into my pocket I pulled out the….. £10. Cheers. Still, I got my train and presumably he got as high as a kite. All’s well that ends well.The second incident was even more surreal. I had had a long day in London with work and returned to Darlington Station around 9.30pm. As I returned to my car something looked off and I noticed that all of my paperwork was scattered on the backseat. I went to put my bag in the boot before checking it out when I noticed movement in the car. Yup, some filthy scummer was in my car rifling through my things. Fair to say it wasn’t quite as pleasant a surprise as the time an admiring passerby had left a note with her phone number on my windscreen.
I used the button on my keys to make sure he was locked in and called the police at which point I heard a noise and noticed my scruffy new acquaintance sliding his drug-addled semi-corpse through the smashed driver’s window. My options appeared before me in a PlayStation RPG-esque slow motion time capsule.
“Get out of my FUCKING car!!!”
“Is this yours?”
Errrrr, well it ain’t yours is it shithead?
“Yeah, now put my things down and FUCK OFF!”
(Scruffer shuffles forward, puts hand in pocket).
“I’m going to stab you.”
Tick tock, tick tock….
You know what? He might have a satnav and some sunglasses of mine; I’ve got two beautiful children at home. He hasn’t got much to lose judging by the clip of him. I’m not risking dying in a pool of blood in a shitty car park in Darlington in the pissing rain soundtracked by the groans of nearby cattle.
So I ran, enough so he wouldn’t catch me but all the while keeping him in my sights to get a good description. He was caught – an addict that had plenty of previous and was well-known to police – and I got my stuff back. He got a community order and I got £100 compensation deposited sporadically in my bank account a few pennies at a time until I’m about 87. That’ll teach him.
(It didn’t actually, he was in front of the magistrate again the following year and they sent me a letter asking me if I would let him off paying what he owed me. Errrr, good thinking Batman. What do you think I told them?).
Why am I telling you this? Well, because the incidents came to mind recently and I was struck by the similarities between the emotions felt during these incidents and their immediate aftermath and after being told that my marriage was over.
Surreal calm. Time slows and momentarily stands still. Adrenalin. Heart pounds. Breathing shallows. A rush of emotion floods through numbed limbs. Divergent paths appear in front of you. The beaten, bloody remains of your life.
I was robbed. I was fucking robbed!! How dare you?!?! What gives you the fucking right to intrude on MY life like this?!? Who the fuck do you think you are?!?
Anger, fear, denial, injustice, revenge, compassion, understanding, empathy, sorrow, anger, justice. Anger. Defeat.
Emotions ripping through you like a tornado, devastating, violating all in their wake. Hopes, dreams, stability, security, your imagined future and the future of your family.
Gone, taken from you. Robbed.
Why? Seeking answers, seeking sense. Maybe you’ll find it, maybe you won’t. Maybe you will never understand the full truth, the full reasons. Maybe your ex-partner doesn’t know the full reasons themselves, knowing only that things couldn’t continue, things had to change and the time had come to walk away, however hard that may have been.
Often, answers aren’t forthcoming in the short-term but distance, time and a broader perspective will unwrap the layers of doubt and confusion and reveal the answers that really matter:
What does this mean to me now? What can I learn from this? How did I contribute to the breakdown of my relationship? How can I take these lessons and use them to create the future that I want? That I deserve.
Our future may have been swept away but no future is promised to any one of us. The future still lies ahead, a sea of infinite possibility. All that remains is to breathe in the air, set our course and sail, ever onwards.
Archives Of Pain – Manic Street Preachers