I had a bad cold over the weekend and when I returned to work this morning, I left a little later than usual, hoping to travel in an empty carriage. Some hope! After the usual wait while two Metropolitans went by, the Piccadilly was pretty full. At least I found a seat, and there on the empty seat beside me, was a smart leather folder. Being a nosy sod I had a look. It was stamped with the logo and name of the Society of Irish Dentists (or something similar – I couldn’t find them doing a quick internet search afterwards) and contained notes from a conference.
Now I am not a medical man by trade. I only do the odd bit of brain surgery now and then, just to keep my hand in, and so the contents of the folder were of no real interest, though the first set of notes, about Botulism toxin, looked marginally more interesting than this morning’s Guardian, which I had finished off before we reached Acton Town. But, still feeling a bit bunged up and groggy, I put the folder on the window shelf behind the seat.
I was then taken aback when a bloke sitting opposite asked if the folder was mine, and when I denied it, asked me to pass it over to him. He had a look and seemed to draw as much interest as I had done (he was neither Irish nor dental looking). I made a jocular remark and he put me in my place by pointing out that he had once lost important documents on the tube, and no-one had bothered to hand them in, and he was going to see that this folder was returned to its rightful owner.
I was going to make a snappy rejoinder to the effect that a participant in a conference could easily get copies of all the documentation, but decided not to. Actually the folder itself was rather smart. The sort of thing one can leave lying on one’s coffee table to impress visitors. “Oh, this? Just some stuff from one of the conferences I attended recently”. I guess it will be missed and my travelling colleague was right to make sure that it was put into the tender mercies of the Lost Property Dept. Which reminds me, they owe me one light, green, almost waterproof coat, a gentleman’s cap (sized 7 ¼) and one or two umbrellas. Not all lost at the same time, you understand. In fact the coat was left behind about 5 years ago but I still miss it. Now all those painful memories of loss have been stirred up by an absent-minded tooth attendant, possibly even now winging his way back to the Emerald Isle with a suitcase a little lighter than it should be. I guess we are both a bit down in the mouth.