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Idon’t nor­mally put my purse in that hand­bag. The purse is a lit­tle un­wieldy, the bag a shade too dinky, and its flimsy mag­netic catch would scarcely trou­ble a tod­dler. But it’s my favourite bag – I don’t mean that in the tra­di­tional fe­male way, in­ci­den­tally; I mean that of the three hand­bags I have that don’t seem to have been specif­i­cally de­signed to carry a tea­spoon to a do, it is the one I use most reg­u­larly. It’s the dink­i­ness, you see. Big enough for my Kin­dle, not big enough to climb into.

Usu­ally, when I take it into town, I put some cash, two bank cards, which­ever loy­alty cards are likely to be pressed into ser­vice and my Leap card into the zipped pocket on the inside. But I was mak­ing my first foray into Christ­mas shop­ping, in which you know not the store nor the loy­alty card. I also had a tan­ta­lis­ing € 200 in gift cards and I reck­oned that shuf­fling them at the top of a check- out queue might just make me the least popular Christ­mas spirit. So I put the purse in the bag, and off I went.

I felt her take it. I say her, be­cause when I swung around, the only per­son I saw was a woman in a heavy cream cardi­gan rush­ing past me, a lit­tle too close. But it may not have been her. Maybe she was just in a hurry be­cause it was De­cem­ber, it was five o’clock, and the cold night was draw­ing in. We were on the Ha’penny Bridge; the purse was lifted at the pre­cise sec­ond that I stepped out to avoid walk­ing into the peo­ple sit­ting on the ground, beg­ging. In that mo­ment, I felt a strange lifting sen­sa­tion on my shoul­der. Weighed down as I was with shop­ping bags on both sides, I knew im­me­di­ately what had hap­pened. I scarcely needed to check.

I didn’t keep my life in my purse but there was enough of it there for me to feel sorry for my­self re­gard­less. The forty euros in cash – prob­a­bly the only part of the haul the thief ac­tu­ally used – didn’t mat­ter a jot. But I was dis­pro­por­tion­ately up­set about the gift cards, prob­a­bly be­cause it felt like other peo­ple’s money was be­ing robbed, and the re­al­ity of be­ing with­out a credit card at this time of year – es­pe­cially when all my on­line ac­counts were tied into that now can­celled card – is deeply frus­trat­ing. I’d just topped up my Leap card, I was five points away from a half price turkey on my Su­per­valu card and my Brady’s Butch­ers stamped card was full. I know that sounds like small beans, but when you’ve pre­sented th­ese cards and col­lected th­ese stamps for months, it mat­ters.

But it was none of th­ese that came to me first on that bridge of sighs. My dad’s memo- riam card. Pho­tos of the kids. The (odd) mea­sure­ments of our liv­ing room cur­tains. Louis Walsh’s business card (ac­tu­ally, I didn’t re­mem­ber that un­til much later, when I will con­cede that its pe­cu­liar in­clu­sion in the haul did make me smile). Pieces of me. On the bus home – God bless Dublin Bus for the free ride – I sud­denly re­mem­bered that my new driver’s li­cence was in the purse. I was due to take my driv­ing test in five days time. After the bank, they were the first peo­ple I phoned. Sorry for your trou­ble and all that, but no, you can’t now take your test.

The Hus­band called the thief a “toe-rag.” But I had writ­ten about the death of Jonathan Cor­rie on our city streets just the pre­vi­ous day, and I know that this is how the home­less and the hope­lessly ad­dicted get by. You can’t de­mand they be homed on a Wed­nes­day and hanged on a Thurs­day, just be­cause you have be­come a vic­tim.

But I am still al­lowed feel a shade sorry for my­self. That night, I saw a tweet claim­ing the uni­verse had re­warded Ed Sheeran for his Late Late Show kind­ness by al­low­ing him ca­vort on stage at the Vic­to­ria’s Se­crets show. #karma, went the hash­tag. Given that I had made a sig­nif­i­cant do­na­tion to Fo­cus Ire­land less than 24 hours be­fore I was robbed, I am think­ing of start­ing #kar­masharma. I have also now been a vic­tim of crime in my own home town on five sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions. You could feel very sorry for your­self about that, or you could get angry about a so­ci­ety that al­lows so many of its mem­bers to live in the shad­ows.

And on the bright side, I can’t wait to see what Louis Walsh’s next boy band looks like.

I felt her take it. I say her be­cause when I turned the only per­son I saw was a woman rush­ing past me, a lit­tle too close

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