This is my friend Fraser underneath the Tay bridge, before we set off to the St Petes Congregational outing in Craigtoun Park. When I was seriously ill in ICU Ninewells in 2011 I promised Fraser that we would go cycling when I got better. For me it was quite an emotional moment when I recovered and we were able to do that. Each summer we try and repeat the event. This year was no different. So on Saturday August 13th we set off…
These photos show the cycle path to Tayport, the ‘hogs’ at Tayport and the harbour…and us having arrived after a 23 mile cycle. We are both now at the stage of life where he has to be more concerned about me, than I am about him!
The following day was Sunday and Fraser decided to cycle to church in the evening. He chained up his bike outside the church and came into worship. Sadly someone came along with a pair of bolt cutters, cut the chain and made of with his bike. He was of course upset – as was I. If I was able to speak to the person concerned I would simply ask what kind of lowlife is it who cycles round with bolt cutters seeking to steal a child’s bike from outside a church? For the £50 that you would get for this on the black market, is it worth it? Do you delight in causing such misery? I realise that you may have a drug problem (or you may just be a thoughly nasty person) but there is no need for you to visit your problems on everyone else. Get a life! Throughly depressing. Actually if you did ever happen to read this, I would point out that it is possible to get a much better life. I feel sorry for you, that this is your existence, and I would love to point you to a much better way!
We of course reported it to the police. And therein lies another story. Someone in the congregation had managed to take a photo of someone who was acting suspiciously around Fraser’s bike. If you happen to be reading this – we have the photo, which is being passed over to the police.
But therein lies the other problem. I suspect that the police will do nothing. A child’s bike is not a major priority for them and there is just too much hassle involved in catching the thief. And it’s not worth it. What punishment would they get? A minor fine, which they would just pay by stealing another child’s bike. I read in todays Courier of a whistleblower in the police leaking e-mails which showed that they were being told not to pursue drug dealers because it involved too much time. If that’s true of drug dealers, then what chance them being interested in a petty thief? It seems as though the police’s job today is just to hand out case numbers for the insurance companies. Perhaps we should have reported the theft as a hate crime – then there might have been some action! When can we have a zero tolerance policy in Scotland?
It’s really is not the bike that is the issue. It’s the fact that there are human beings who are prepared to act in such a way, and indeed in far worse ways. I did feel a wee bit angry that someone could do this to a young boy. But the following day I saw the other side of humanity.
The following day I lost my wallet – in between buying a gift for Annabel’s anniversary and the flower shop on the Perth Road. It was clear that it had fallen out of my pocket. I reported it as lost with the vague hope that someone might have handed it in. It wasn’t so much losing the cash, it was more the cards, driving licence and my exotic collection of coffeeshop loyalty cards! Then the phone call arrived from the Lost and Found office in the central police station. A lady called Mary had picked it up in the Perth Road, gone all the way into the centre of town and handed it in to them. Everything was still in it. More than that she had gone the extra mile and driven up to my home and put a wee hand written note through the door.
So there are two people I would like to get hold of. I would love to talk to the lowlife thief and talk about the harm and hurt his selfishness and greed causes and try to point him to a higher life. And I would love to meet Mary and thank her properly. I would love to tell her about how she restored my faith in the good people of Dundee (which incidentally has just been named the number one city in Britain for quality of life!) and to point her to the source or all true goodness.
And it was not just Mary. The policewoman at the Lost and Found office was lovely and a great help. And just down from the church there is the wee local Perth Road post office where I had a wee blether with them, and an elderly customer. They were humourous, humane and horrified at what happened (I had had to explain why I did not have ID) and so I told them about the stolen bike as well. And then there was the lady in the flowershop, who went I went back to collect the flowers for Annabel was very understanding when I said I couldn’t pay. She told me not to bother, just to take the flowers and to come in whenever I had the money. At that point the phone rang. It was the police informing me that it had been handed in. “Oh’, she said, “I’m so happy, I could cry”! You don’t get that kind of humanity and service from Interflora!
All these people reminded me of the importance of being part of a real and living local community. A life that is lived online is not really much of a life. We need local shops, local police officers, local post-offices and local churches! I don’t want to live in the mega individualistic corporate world – where we are all consumers and not citizens. I don’t want to be a cog in the machine, because I could end up like the bike thief who clearly feels he has no real part in the community and just has to grab what he can.
Finally, the folks in the post office and the lady in the flower shop, both said something interesting. Something which indicates a sense of the law of God written in human hearts. Speaking of the thief, they said ‘he’ll get his comeuppance one day”. Indeed he will. There is a day of judgement and a day of justice, where we will have to give account for every deed done in the body, every thought and every word misspoken. Perhaps if our bike thief was aware that one day he will have to give account to a higher judge, and that there is more just judge and law enforcer than the Scottish police, he may have paused before he did his deed? But as long as he thinks that he is just a collection of chemicals, fulfilling his own immediate desires, in a world which is decaying and dying anyway, then I guess for him, in his universe, its not that big a deal. In God’s universe it is.
There is humanity – the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful – all mixed up together. We need redemption. We need salvation. Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.
PS. If you happen to come across the bike in the picture above – let us know! Also if you would like to contribute to a wee bike replacement fund let me know and I will send you details of how to do so..
PPS. If you know, or indeed are the person in the photo below – seen cycling away from the church-perhaps you would like to get in touch, before the police get in touch with you? You could clear your name and be a witness, or you confess your sin and clear your conscience!