Excuse me, but you're a thief

YOU'RE lucky you're getting a column at all this week (some might say unlucky, and I haven't the energy to bop them over the head with a jumbo tube of dry roasted peanuts).

This is mainly because I'm wrapped in a metaphorical blanket of festive cheer, sweetly oblivious to anything that isn't mulled, iced, coated in glitter or featuring Slade.

Thus far, the plan to cram a month's worth of Christmas into one week is going splendidly.

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Have created, in effect, a kind of super-strength Christmas Concentrate to make up for the portion of December I spent in lectures on Anglo Saxon literature wishing I was skating at Somerset House in a pair of ear muffs.

Since I got off the train at Worthing station about six hours ago, I have achieved the following, in no particular order: gone to a Christingle service, supervised with fascist rigour the decorating of the Bravo tree, drunk mulled wine, eaten two blocks of fancy cheese, downloaded Mariah Carey without the tiniest twinge of shame, drunk some more mulled wine, and realised I've left my mobile charger in London.

Of course, this last one has nothing whatsoever to do with Christmas, but I mention it anyway in case any of you are disgruntled at my non-returned texts and thinking of giving my present to the dog.

The Christingle service was approached with trepidation, by the way, as I'd heard on the mulled grapevine that this year the Herods of the health and safety world had decreed that candles were just asking for trouble and must be replaced by glowsticks.

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Now I can appreciate that the last thing the Church of England needs is a good milking by Claims Direct, but as with most Nanny State-isms I feel compelled to defend the faint whiff of danger (not to mention the stronger whiff of candle wax and singed pigtails) every child experiences on being handed a flaming orange then told to close their eyes and pray as one of those necessary childhood nuances, not to be denied today's youth just because there's always one kid who manages to lose an eyebrow.

Next year the childhood obesity panic may have overruled dolly mixtures and instead we'll be skewering chunks of tofu onto the little cocktail sticks and going for a step-aerobics session afterwards in the vestry.

I'm pleased to report, however, that my church seemed to have escaped the pyromaniac panic (suspect the rumour I'd heard was just the product of a paranoid North London PTA, with the mums of Highgate or suchlike worried about the damage candle smoke might do to their pashminas).

And so nobody had to sing carols in the fervent belief that Jesus was "the glowstick of the world", and I could enjoy my lightly toasted dolly mixtures in peace.

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This was much-needed peace, it should be noted, as the other reason you're lucky to be getting an article this week is that I was robbed on Camden High Street on Friday.

Sorry to destroy the cheery festive tone at this point (if it helps, you can picture my pickpocket as a Dickensian-style orphan in a miniature tailcoat instead of the silver-puffa-jacketed old hag that was the reality), but I thought that after weeks of waxing lyrical about life in the capital, I should chip away a little of the Love Actually froth and make you feel happy to be in Worthing, where people don't nick stuff. As much.

There's a happy ending to the tale, though, and it goes like this: glancing down at exactly the right moment to realise there was a big gap in my bag where a purse should have been (I'd like to think this was natural intuition but remember it was actually reaching for my lipstick and won't pretend otherwise), I spun around to confront my thief about to make a speedy getaway.

Suddenly, I was a crime-fighting woman of steel. Suddenly, I was Jodie Foster in Silence of the Lambs or maybe one of the original Charlie's Angels but with less fantastic hair.

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I grabbed her by the shoulders, gave her my hardest, fiercest of looks and said'¦."excuse me".

Honestly, I did.

But it worked! Clearly startled at someone who remembers their manners even when being robbed, she wordlessly handed back my purse and streaked off down the street, while I called after her 'I should hope so too!' in the manner of someone telling a small child not to draw on the walls.

Or stick their eyebrows in a Christingle candle flame, I suppose. Goodwill to all men, you see? Merry Christmas.

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