Of things lost and found


A couple of months ago I met a friend at Baker street. While I was waiting for him, I saw the display of the Tfl’s Lost and Found. (The photo is not mine; I did not manage to take one as my horrible, horrible phone was acting up again.) But I digress.

It was really strange to see all those items people lost on the tube. (Iron? Really?) You just felt differently looking at them, with the date and place where they were lost. When you see a top hat in a museum, you have no reference whose it was, where it came from; it’s just an old hat, with no emotional content.

When you see that particular hat in the display window of the Tfl’s lost and found, you learn that someone in 1932 was travelling on the tube and lost it. He probably put it next to himself while reading a newspaper (the Punch, for sure), and then left it there absent-mindedly. Suddenly, the hat becomes more something more than an item. Someone eighty years ago was upset losing it. Suddenly you feel a connection to this unknown person, who lived in a time when these hats were worn by actual people, and not just a couple of hipsters, when the words “gentlemen’s club” meant something else than a titty-bar. This person could have very well witnessed the hell of World War One, and did not even have an inkling yet what was about to come not seven years later.

Seeing that hat, the different cameras (from 8mm to the silly old plastic SONY video cameras), I can’t help but wonder what the films in those cameras could hold. All those bits people lost over a century in London make you realize how transient life is. Those people are either gone or gotten old; yet these objects they have lost are there, unchanged, standing witness for times long gone.

I’m just being insufferably melancholic, aren’t I?

  1. I like this post. Wondering why it didn’t come up in my reader.
    I once found a digital camera on a bus. I looked at the photos on it. There were pictures of sunsets, beaches, trees, the sky, the ground, and a few shots of cups and other inanimate objects. One pic was of an old crate thing on a table. Beside the crate was scrap bit of paper with a mobile number on it. I gave it a shot and rang the number. Turned out to be the number of the mother of the boy who lost the camera. I returned the camera and the boy was 13 years old. It was his first camera and he wanted to be a photographer. It felt so good to be able to return it to him. Imagine returning that top hat to the owner, well, a relative of the owner by now Id say.

  2. This is a really moving story; precisely the thing I was thinking about 🙂 Thank you for sharing it.

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