Thursday last week, a rather large group of friends and I went careering down the Kilburn High Road to an establishment that was doing two for one cocktails. It’s a great deal and they taste simply wonderful. At one point in the evening, a balding gentleman sat down on the table next to us and began repeatedly asking, quite insistently: “Is this seating taken?” We all nodded in approval, too caught up in the warm, fuzzy feeling of tipsiness and atmospheric lighting.
It is the 21st Century after all, so we soon got that irresistible urge to document the evening in case we forgot; or more likely, so we could say crassly to everyone else we know “Hey, look, we have a life! Look how great this is!” As such, we asked the aforementioned gentleman to take a photo of us. He, as most people in that situation would do, obliged. Through a forced smile and that faint feeling of intrusion you have when taking photos of strangers (when they’ve asked of course, not just for the laugh) he snapped a few of us. The poses were mixed, with some going for Pout, others for Having Loads of Fun, and most settling on just Smile. They were, on the whole, nice.
Soon after this glamorous photo shot, it dawned on the girlfriend of my friend that she had lost her phone and that this was an Emergency. As is often the case, we split into two groups: one opting for sitting around and tapping surfaces pretending like they’re looking and the other actually looking. After five minutes of fruitless scurrying the balding fellow sloped off (I imagine you see where this is going) but the looking group were rooting around too intently to notice. Luckily, another friend noticed said suspicious sloping and alerted us all.
“He has it! I saw it in his back pocket.”
At this point, a deathly silence befell the table as it dawned on us what we must do. We had to confront the balding man, who was now transformed into a 6 foot 4 inch, heavily muscled cage fighter. Three other friends and I looked at each other right in the eye and resolved ourselves to the manly task ahead. We were going to reprimand him; we were going to stop him escaping and we were going to say: “Hey you! You nefarious man, you deadly trickster, our friend wants her phone back and if you don’t give it back then we can’t be held accountable for our actions!”
So, like a pack of highly trained SAS agents, we moved out.
“I have a visual on the suspect” I said.
“What’s the ETA?” a friend replied.
“About two seconds. He’s at the bar.” came my curt, efficient, gruff response.
We got to the man, and for some reason unbeknown to me, I stood slightly in his personal space and said to him: “Erm, excuse me, yeah, hi, do you have my friend’s phone?”
“No I don’t” he said.
There was an uncomfortable silence.
“Yeah you do, we saw it in your back pocket” said another friend.
“I don’t have it” he said. Things were getting tense and the suspect and I could see the whites of one another’s eyes. As this staring match was taking place, one of the team slipped back behind his back and began to make a phone call gesture. It was an unbelievable bit of quick thinking; he was urging me to call the stolen phone so it would light up and provide us with incriminating evidence. Taking my friend’s advice, I reached for my phone and drew it out quick as a flash. I went into my contacts, found the number and pressed “Dial”. My palms were sweaty, knees weak, arms were heavy. Fortunately, seeing as I live away from home, none of my Mum’s spaghetti was on my jumper.
The phone rang and unsurprisingly his back pocket began to vibrate and light up. The team moved in. One of my friends snatched the iPhone cover off the phone, waving it over his head triumphantly like a big bear that has caught a delicious salmon whilst another friend took the actual phone itself. There were, if I remember correctly, four of us and the man knew he was surrounded and as far as he knew any resistance would be futile. Unfortunately for him, little did he know that we were mild mannered fellows and if there had been a fight we would have quite literally soiled ourselves. At this point, I leaned over to the barman and said: “Can you remove him? He stole our friend’s phone and now we have it” and the barman obliged, scooting the man away before we had our revenge (which would’ve consisted of us asking for his address so we could send him an exceptionally long and passive aggressive letter).
We returned to our table victorious; four men who had stared death in the face and death had blinked first. Very surprisingly, hyperbole began to fly around left, right and centre. Quite quickly we were calling ourselves the “A Team” and before we knew it the man had actually had four knives, an Uzi and a grenade. One of the team even had to battle through a pack of rabid dogs to reach him at the bar! Who knew? It was a victory that we all relished, and a story we will take to our graves.