Saturday, 11 December 2010

To Catch a Thief

'There is nothing in life so cruel as to be blind in Granada' - Francisco Alarcon de Icaza

With its Moorish heritage and the magical backdrop of the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Granada is a beautiful and evocative city. It is defined by its hills and by its history, from the steep narrow cobbled streets of the Albaycin quarter to the magnificent Alhambra Palace.

Although considered safer than many tourist destinations, it does alas suffer from its share of low level crime.

A couple of years ago, as we were enjoying an alfresco dinner, a dishevelled drunk grabbed La Jefa’s mobile phone from the table and ran off down the alleyway. Yours truly, full of bravado, leapt to his feet to chase after the man. The spirit was willing but the flesh weak as my legs went from under me on the city’s notoriously slippery pavements.

I picked myself up, dusted myself down and, undeterred by the barely disguised mirth of our fellow diners, set off in hot pursuit. My cries of ‘Stop Thief’ went ignored by the locals enjoying their tinto and tapas in the warm evening air. It was only afterwards that I realised that it was their lack of English rather than lack of sympathy for my plight that stopped them from coming to my aid.

Against the odds, I eventually caught up with the perpetrator, admittedly probably due more to his inebriated state rather than my athletic prowess. Then it dawned on me – what do I now do to retrieve the mobile? The answer came in the form of one of the many sub-Saharan immigrants who sell their wares on the streets of the city. ‘Let me help you’ he said, grabbing the man by the scruff of the neck and planting a Glaswegian kiss on his forehead. ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ I mused as the man fell to the ground. My good Samaritan prised the phone from his hand and gave it to me before disappearing into the shadows.

I strode purposefully back to the restaurant, mobile proudly held high, milking the applause of the locals who had been watching the chase with bemusement. ‘Don’t tell anyone but I think I’ve torn my hamstring’ I whispered to La Jefa as she supported me back to the car.

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