Despairing: the great camera heist of 2015


I have this camera I sling over my shoulder when I go outside. Sometimes I forget it and every time I leave at home I regret it. There's something freeing about taking pictures of the world around you. One time, not so long ago (because I treat my camera with reckless abandon) I had to get it cleaned.

I left it with the shop for a few days. On the day I was due to pick it up, there was breaking news. A burglary. Fifty thousand pounds worth of equipment stolen. There was a very high likelihood my camera was gone. I'd had the camera but a few months.

In life when you don't have something for very long sometimes it can feel like a dream. Accidentally abandoned clothing items; pets your parents can't afford to keep; the most precious jewelry lost; the swankiest pen you've ever owned gone. Often you begin to wonder whether you ever really owned that thing you loved. You begin to wonder whether you were ever the kind of person to walk around with jumper that made nine year old you feel like a boss. You begin to wonder whether Pepper ever really saw your house as a home. I could already feel that happening with my camera. In my mind it was already stolen.

When I turned up to the shop there was a sign written in red felt-tip pen taped to the door. It said "closed for restocking, apologies for any inconvenience"

And there they were, all eight of them, hastily restocking £50,000 worth of cameras. The lights were on but the doors were locked (a girl has to at least try to retrieve her camera before asking for help). Eventually, seeing no other option. I phoned the shop while peering through the window.

"I'm here for my camera. You said to come down?" I said looking the man holding the shop phone through the glass, all the way down by the till, and waved.

"Ah, yes," he said. "Hang on."

He wrenched open the door placing his body in the gap he'd created. He opened his mouth. About a million different alarms sounded from inside the shop. I raised a brow. He shrugged.

"You were getting it cleaned, right?" his voice was hardly audible above the alarms. "Can I see the receipt?"

I handed it over. He glanced up at me.

"Let me just go see if we still have.... I mean where we put it. Let me check."

When you're certain your camera has been stolen, surrounded by the whining of burglar alarms, and literally left outside in the rain, it's easy to despair. What I learned in those moments left on that doorstep is that despair is easy. Sometimes it's kind of a default. Letting something go is easier than clinging onto it occasionally.

We can't let despair creep up on us. I'm trying not to let it creep up on me in writing. All too often I think I let the outside world panic me. There's such a thing as paying too close attention to the publishing world and I'm pretty sure I'm doing it.

How do you not let the world sway your words? Just in case anyone is on tenterhooks, I got the camera back. It turns out that a) £50,000 worth of cameras is apparently not that much stuff and b) my camera was, like, not a priority to the criminals given the condition I had left it in with the shop.

This post is part of Alex Cavanuagh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a once a month posting of doubts, fears, and confusions among friends.