You know I have a lot of trouble with my balls?
You know how this blog has had an ongoing theme around them?
The ones that escaped, wouldn't get hard, had to go off in the post, got lost, came back, interfered with my gear stick and, last week, got stuck down the disabled lift?
Well I'm afraid that wasn't the end of the saga but this may well be.
After the class last night one of the guys offered to carry my ball down to my car and leave it by the boot - he did me the same favour last week. I thanked him and got on with tidying up and chatting to a couple who stayed behind with some extra questions.
They left and I followed them down about 10 minutes later.
I was somewhat surprised to find them still in the car park, ferreting round in the nettle beds with a bloke that looked like Peter Kay but was wearing a badge saying 'Security'.
'Stickhead' said the guy (obviously using my real name - which isn't actually stickhead).
'Yes?' I enquired, slightly worried by the graveness of his tone.
'We think someone has stolen your ball'.
'But it's 10pm, we are in the middle of a country park, there isn't a soul around and it's huge'.
'We know but it's gone'.
And it had.
My humongous inflatable ball had vanished.
It wasn't as if the guy who had carried it down could have accidentally slipped it into his car without noticing. It had been left beside my car and in the 5 minutes in which it was unattended it had been abducted.
As I stood there pondering the blogging possibilities the ball theft offered, more of the Youth Hostel staff had been summoned to help in the search. People called for torches. Someone went down to the river. 'Assistance needed, assembly point 1' went out over the intercom.
I went back and spoke to reception.
'Erm, you know my huge big ball?'
'Oh yes, we know it!'.
'Well it's gone missing'.
'Yes - it appears to have been taken from the car park'
'I'm so sorry'
'Why? Did did you take it?'
'Well it's not your fault then is it'
'No, but it reflects badly on the establishment'
'Erm, I see. Well I don't think it does really - it could have been anyone. I don't think you'll get a reputation as harbouring ball nickers or anything'.
'I mean people that steal stuff - like balls'.
'Oh yeah - well it was probably that bloke that was just in'.
'Ah ha! What what was he like?'.
'Erm, wearing a suit, looking to hire the place for his daughter's wedding'
'The father of the bride?'
'Doesn't sound like the type who would decide to make off with a giant inflatable ball for the crack of it but you never know - I guess it takes all sorts'.
'It certainly does - it's always the quiet ones. People steal things to buy drugs you know!'
'Not, generally, giant inflatable balls though?'
(When it comes to the stolen goods market, inflatable balls don't really go down that well).
'Well no, but you'd be surprised!'
(believe me love, I already have been)
At this point I was starting to worry she was going to put together a posse of German school children to hunt down a, very probably innocent, guy who had come looking for a price list and nothing more and was going to end up being accused of being a crack addicted ball thief and probably be thrown into the river.
'Don't worry I'll get more help to look for it' (she leans behind the bar 'COULD YOU COME AND HELP THIS LADY LOOK FOR HER LOST BALL', everybody turns and stares at the 'lady with the misplaced ball' i.e. me).
In the meantime the security guard is in his element. He's gone into over-drive. He's muttering into his walkie-talkie and asking people to spread out and 'flush the bushes'. If he'd had a sniffer dog, he'd have used it (which thank god - he didn't, because the last thing that had been in contact with the ball and therefore carried it's scent, was my arse....I've done some odd things via work but giving a Springer Spaniel permission to pick up the scent of my backside isn't one of them).
'Don't worry love, we'll 'ave 'em on CCTV'.
Wow - this is impressive. I may actually get to see my ball being taken. We could get in on Crimestoppers. I could be interviewed with my face fuzzed out sobbing about how the loss of my ball has changed me forever and I just want justice.
We run the footage.
Small problem. The camera isn't actually pointing at the car park - it's pointing in the bushes (we could ponder why this might be long and hard but we won't) and my ball has not absconded to the bushes.
Someone else goes down to the river.
I'm holding breath - if it's gone in the river then it could be at the weir by now. And then? AND THEN!?!?
Well for a start it could get caught in the radial gates causing them to jam and leading to some minor flooding in the lower stretches of the valley but I'd best not ponder that or I won't be able to sleep.
It's now approaching 10.30pm and there is no sign of it. Its time to call off the search but everyone seems strangely reluctant. I'm actually quite touched by how much finding my ball means to them (either that or they're all bored sh1tless and just happy to have a chance to be part of a real life search party).
'Look' I say 'I think we have to be realistic here. It's probably a long way away by now - it was only a ball, I'll come back tomorrow in daylight'.
'There's still hope' says one of my clients, clutching my arm and giving me a comforting pat.
'Yes' I said 'there's always hope'.
'You must tell the police' the lady from reception tells me.
Well that's going to be an interesting conversation isn't it.
And meanwhile the search goes on. So if you see a very large blue ball on your travels today please but him somewhere safe and message me.....