I’ve long been fascinated by the forgetfulness of human beings. There seems to be a limit to the capacity of the human brain for retaining information before some of it starts falling out of your ears. Your memory card is full, please delete some files to free up space, as it were. But it’s not just forgetting important dates like your mum’s birthday or your wedding anniversary though. As the Wombles put it so succinctly, it’s “the things that the everyday folk leave behind” that offer us an intriguing glimpse into the ways our memories work – or don’t, as the case may be.
Our brains are fallible. Quite ridiculously so at times. Losing your house keys, forgetting your phone, misplacing your glasses, the disappearance of the remote control – these are all everyday things that happen to us all at some point in our lives (although I’d bet you’ve never managed to lock yourself in your flat due to sheer stupidity. I have. The locksmith was highly amused, and I went round singing Vic and Bob’s ‘Trapped In My Flat’ for the rest of the day).
But some people forget the oddest things. Over the years I’ve posted quite a lot on the subject of the weirder side of lost Property – bizarre items left on various forms of public transport or in hotel rooms by forgetful customers – and it never ceases to surprise and amaze me what kind of things people actually leave behind in public places.
Everything from wedding dresses, live tortoises, a bag of haggis. a casket of human ashes, and an inflatable dinosaur (yay!), to a gas mask, a framed photo of Mary Berry, a pair of breast implants, a stuffed puffer fish, and a hamster have been turned into various lost property offices in recent years. It really makes me wonder how such oblivious souls got some of these things on the train/bus/tube/into a hotel room in the first place, let alone forgot them!
Indeed, I still worry sometimes about the life-size Dalek someone once left abandoned in a hotel room after checking out – is the poor thing alright? Did anyone ever come back to claim it? Where did it go? Were there stairs involved? And how the hell do you forget a life-size Dalek in the first place? Such weird items of lost property leave me with so many questions (which is probably why I keep returning to the subject!).
This latest batch of odd lost property comes to us courtesy of South Western Railway, who have been running the franchise into and out of London’s Waterloo Station for the last six months (see? Given the opportunity, it hardly takes any time at all for the British public to start losing weird things). Among the odd things passengers have left on trains during this period are:
- A barrister’s wig
- An ironing board
- A pirate flag and flag pole
- A leather lounge chair
- A pair of false teeth
- A giant inflatable shark
- Various souvenir goodies from Thorpe Park, including a giant donut, a panda and several inflatable bananas.
I hope the (legal) owner of the wig didn’t get into too much trouble with the judge for being underdressed in court, and as far as the ironing board is concerned, I can only surmise that its owner got sidetracked while travelling to an Extreme Ironing competition (no, really. People actually do this). The pirate flag was clearly left behind by a gathering of Pastafarians (arrrrr mateys), and as for the lounge chair, well… nope. I got nothing. No idea. Not a clue.
My favourite, however, is probably the shark (which is no relation at all to the fantastic shark in the picture above, apart from being very large and rather out-of-place. If you’d like to learn more about this attic-dwelling and probably severely concussed creature, there’s lots more here and here). But honestly, this only suggests more questions – like how do you forget you’ve got a Giant Inflatable Shark with you? Was it deflated or inflated? What kind of shark? Where were they planning to put it? Enquiring minds want to know.
The moral of the story? Next time you get on a train, make sure you know where your shark is at all times….
Filed under: London, Random Oddments Tagged: London, Lost, Lost Property, Public Transport, Random, Random Oddments, Sharks, Trains, Waterloo Station