John Walker's Electronic House

A Story To Replace The Odyssey

by on Aug.29, 2007, under The Rest

Here I bring you a tale of great woe and suffering unlike mankind has ever known, and then a story of such delight and happiness to make you weep until dry. It all began with a cab journey…

On Sunday night I was returning from Guildford after a weekend of hanging out with my nephew and becoming his godfather, and arrived in Bath to find that there are no buses home at such an obscure hour as 8.45pm. So instead I hopped into one of the taxis outside the station, rather than walk up the hill with my heavy bag and tired legs. The taxi driver was a nice enough chap, reasonably chatty, but not so that I couldn’t enjoy playing Phoenix Wright 3 on my DS as we travelled. As I arrived home, I put the DS in my trouser pocket, got my wallet, saw that my DS had fallen out so put it back into my pocket, and left the cab. I got in, emptied my stuff onto my bed, and no DS. Running out the door I saw the brake lights of the taxi go around the corner, so I sprinted down the road (really remarkably quickly), but to no avail. He was gone.

Of course, I had no idea whose taxi I’d just been in. But there’s one big firm in Bath, so I called them, desperately hoping it was one of theirs. Still out of breath from running down the road, I gasped to them where I’d been picked up and when. The lady replied, “We don’t do pick-ups from the station. Those are independent drivers. You’ll have to call the council on… Tuesday morning.” I sank inside. Not only was it a driver with no depot or base to hand lost property to, but it was going to be two days before I’d be able to talk to anyone about it. Doomed.

Let me explain the problem. My DS is more than an expensive toy – it’s a source of lots of my income. Worse, in the GBA slot was my memory expansion cart for the web browser, which is another £30 on top of the £90 or so the DS was worth. But it gets even worse – I’m midway through reviewing Phoenix Wright, and the thought of having to start over again without my save positions was not fun. In total, it was about £160 worth of stuff, but also hours and hours of work I don’t have time to repeat. Also, it’s my DS! But there was nothing I could do, other than be furious at myself for being so deeply idiotic as to put the DS back in a pocket that clearly wasn’t going to contain it, when I had a bag in my other hand that would have transported it fine.

As I’m sure you’ll agree, this is the worst thing that has ever happened to anyone ever, and puts a lot of the plights of so-called suffering around the world into perspective.

Tuesday morning arrived, and as I walked to the bus I phoned the council’s taxi division at the moment it turned 9am. It seemed fairly hopeless – the chances of the next fare not pocketing it seemed slim, let alone the taxi driver not accepting the kind gift of a Nintendo DS, along with the Special Cards in both slots. It got worse. The council lady told me that anything left in a taxi by their registered drivers is to be handed in to the police. The chances of ever seeing it again seemed far more remote. She gave me a number for the local police station.

It was a number that did nothing other than illicit a strange bleeping noise on my phone before cutting me off. I called 118 type people, and they gave me a more general 0845 number of the police, and it seemed even more unlikely. There a friendly voice took the details of what I was looking for, and with a hopeless tone told me she’d take a look. After a while on hold she said to me,

“Did you say it was a Nintendo handheld games system?”

Yes, I said.



And then with remarkable surprise in her voice,

“We’ve had one handed in! 26th August, from a taxi.”

She sounded as though this was the first time a piece of desired lost property had ever existed. I couldn’t believe my ears. She said, “It could be a different one, of course.” And despite the unlikely nature of this, I decided she could be right.

However, heading to the police station that lunchtime I was presented with my Precious, all carts in their slots, looking up at me with grateful, relieved eyes to be back with its daddy.

The cab driver, who is the Greatest Human Alive, chose not to leave his details, putting, “Prefer to remain anonymous” on all forms, leaving me no way to contact him to thank him for his remarkable act of generosity. Not only did he not keep something that an idiot had left in his car, but he also went out of his way to take it to the police station, which I don’t think anyone’s done since 1954. Which means there’s only one possible explanation – he was an angel. A bearded, overweight angel. Thank you taxi driving angel. Thank you.

12 Comments for this entry

  • jonh

    John long time no speak

    Yeah people are generally good.

    I left a laptop on a bus last week (brand new) and got it back. But that gut wrenching realisation of your own stupidity is scary. I blame it on getting old.

  • simonkaye

    Every time a nintendog barks, an angel gets his wings.

    That’s right. That’s right.

  • The_B

    Would it be too homoerotic to give you a big DS related e-hug in your moment of restored faith in humanity?

    Maybe if I follow it up with a small slap for your silliness. But then I can’t say much given I took mine on two camping trips these last two weekends and kept leaving it in the tent most of the time. One of those including V Festival. I probably deserved to have it nicked for my carelessness for my precious…

  • John

    I’m not sure it’s possible to be too homoerotic.

  • always_black

    As the World’s Foremost DS Games Expert, can you recommend a four-player game suitable for players of ages 5, 6, 7 and 35?

  • John

    The DS doesn’t really do four player very often.

    Mario Kart would seem the best answer. I don’t know if it does four, but it should.

  • Lu-Tze

    I remember the wonderful dual nature of being delated and infuriated by losing my phone on a train. I reliased immedaitely as it pulled away my phone was absent, and undoubtedly upon the seat I had just vacated. I tried to ring it, expecting no response, or merely highlighting to someone that here was a shiny thing worthy of being stolen. Instead I got a wonderful gentleman who stated he would hand it in to lost property under my name when he departed the train.

    Ecstasy. An actual human being had found my phone and was going to do THE RIGHT THING.

    Then my ecstacy turned to horror as I tried to reobtain it from Nation Rail. After 30 minutes on the phone I finally managed to explain that yes, whilst it was LOST property, I knew where it was because a kind man had told me where he would leave it. No, I wasn’t just guessing it would be at that station. Please just connect me to them.

    Once connected it was no better. They had posession of my phone, but to retrieve it I would have to travel to them. No matter that every 15 minutes a train passed by them headed for Brimingham where I passed a massive central lost property office everyday, I would have to travel to them instead. Joy. More than that, this particular station was hardly ever manned, only having staff from 8-12 weekdays. Double Joy. I would not only have to pay to go and retrieve my precious, but also have to book a holiday from work for the priviledge.

    So despite the wonderful nature of people, the crushing beurocracy of National Rail made lost property the worst thing EVER.

  • Stephen

    I recently had my brilliant digital SLR stolen from beside me as I slept in my tent at the Latitude festival. When I found it was gone in the morning, I assumed I’d never see it again. I was pretty annoyed, as it was the first time I’d ever taken anything of any actual value to a festival (I’ve always wanted to take a camera before, but never have because I thought it would get nicked).

    Anyway, I have insurance so I thought I’d better report it stolen so that I could get it replaced. I went to the Information Tent and told them I’d had my camera stolen during the night:

    “Is it in a triangular case?”


    “A blue one?”


    “What make is it?”

    “It’s a Pentax K100D.”

    “Does it have baby photos on it?”

    “Yes, of my niece.”

    And I got my camera back. Turns out whoever stole it had been round a few tents stealing stuff and got chased by security guards. He dropped my camera when he was running away. Two people found it outside their tent in the morning and handed it in. They are awesome.

    Funnily enough, the pictures I took that weekend after it was stolen were so much better than the ones taken before.

    I have handed in a wallet I found in the gym once with £600 cash in it. There are some people in the world who do think of other people (I did hand in the cash, as well as the wallet).

  • The_B

    always_black: The new Pokemon games have four player-ness, if you don’t mind the ‘Mon.

  • Andy Krouwel

    Here you go sir…

    Now, you’re under arrest for that flash cart you’ve got in your pocket.

  • John W


    (It’s a good job the police don’t know things)

  • Tedi Worrier

    if you ever trace the taxi driver tell him I’ll take him on NHS … but he’ll have to come to Guildford as my stuff is not very portable