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!).
There’s nothing I like more on a hot and boring Tuesday morning than a good old-fashioned random ‘news’ story. And, in that context, my long-time readers will know that I particularly like hearing about weird lost property (like the full-size replica Dalek left behind in a hotel room a few years ago. One hopes it didn’t exterminate the cleaning staff). Honestly, this stuff is fascinating. Keep with me here, you’ll like this.
Train company First TransPennine Express has this week released a list of things that have been handed in to its lost property department. Alongside the usual phones, wallets, umbrellas, sets of keys and pairs of specs, there are some distinctly strange items that people have left on trains. Here are a few:
1 bag of haggis
1 6ft inflatable dinosaur
1 framed photo of Mary Berry
1 Barry Manilow CD
1 bottle of champagne
1 wooden casket (of ashes)
Personally, I think these items speak volumes about the general oddness of the British psyche. I’m still puzzling over the picture of Mary Berry. She may be a baking legend, a national treasure and a bit of a fashion icon, but why would anyone want a framed photo of her (outside of her family, obviously)? And who loses a bottle of champagne? I’d be very careful to get that home in one piece so I could drink it. I mean, really. Then there’s the six foot inflatable dinosaur. Did it need its own ticket?
I have my suspicions about the Barry Manilow CD though. If that traveller was anything like me, they left that appalling object on the train deliberately….
I’ve written before about the incredibly strange and random things people have been known to leave behind on the London Underground, on planes and in hotel rooms (it still amazes me that someone once checked out of a hotel and drove away without remembering they’d left a full size replica Dalek in their room (no, really). And, incidentally, how do you get a full size replica Dalek in your car anyway?).
Since 1934, items left behind on London’s buses, the tube and in taxis have been taken to the Transport for London Lost Property Office on Baker Street, an Aladdin’s cave of everything from abandoned umbrellas to forgotten mobile phones and beyond. But alongside the everyday things we all occasionally misplace, there’s also some very weird and wonderful things that have been sitting in the TfL Lost Property Office, just waiting to be reunited with their owners…
- A giant red-nosed reindeer stuffed toy
- A pair of size 17 trainers, belonging to a basketball player
- A stuffed puffer fish
- A gas mask
- A mannequin head used by trainee hairdressers to practice on
- A school crossing guard’s ‘lollipop’
- A gorilla costume, wearing an Hawaiian shirt
- An assortment of African carvings
- A life-sized stuffed Spiderman
- A pair of breast implants
- A wedding dress
Luckily, about a quarter of the lost property items found on the London transport network will be returned to their owners – but I suspect the giant red-nosed reindeer has metaphorically missed the boat (or possibly sleigh) this year…
I’ve written before about the weird things that people leave behind in places like the Tube network and in hotels (as well as the bizarre items people pinch from said hotels!), so naturally I couldn’t resist when I came across this list of strange things found on planes by cabin crew from around the world. I wonder if any of these items were ever reclaimed by their owners?
A bag of sand
Box of dried fish
Bag of diamonds
Bag of onions
One egg (without packaging)
Written marriage proposal
I’m aware how exhausting air travel can be, and I’m pretty sure that some of these items of lost property are probably explained by excitable passengers attempting to join the Mile High Club, but one wonders just how forgetful you would have to be to to leave something like a double bass on a plane? Or a bag of diamonds. Or your wedding dress. Or even a live falcon – although I guess I should be grateful I’m not having to discuss snakes on a plane…
You may recall that I have a strange fascination with random ‘odd news’ stories; particularly ones on the subject of those objects which those children’s favourites the Wombles so eloquently describe as “the things that the everyday folk leave behind.” However everyday these folk are, they often end up leaving the oddest of personal possessions behind in some very random places, and that piques my curiosity.
For example, you might remember that, back in January, I spent some time puzzling over how anyone could forget they’d left a full-size replica Dalek (no, really) in their hotel room (presumably on the ground floor…) after checking out, alongside a host of other decidedly random hotel housekeeping finds.
I was reminded of that poor, lonely, abandoned Dalek earlier this week when I read about a new exhibition on a related theme which has just opened at the KK Outlet in Hoxton. Running until 30th June, ‘The Lost Collection’ brings together an intriguing selection of artworks which are quite literally lost property – art that has been left behind, unclaimed and unloved, on London’s public transport network.
Regular readers will know I have a taste for the slightly bizarre and seriously random slow day ‘news’ stories that emerge every so often – and this one is a real gem.
A large hotel chain has released a list of the various things that guests have (either accidentally or deliberately) left behind in their rooms after check out. This list contains fairly ordinary things like books, mobile phones, false teeth, briefcases and teddy bears, but also includes some seriously odd items that really make me wonder about the great British public…
Like a four foot long yam, found abandoned in Cambridge. Or the six and a half thousand pounds worth of gold teeth discovered in a Bridgend hotel room. Or the keys to a Rolls Royce Phantom, left behind in Chester. Or the suitcase full of Victorian royal memorabilia forgotten by a Gatwick Airport guest. Or the poor little Bengal kitten who was thoughtlessly left behind at a hotel in the Docklands area of London.
Then there’s the forgetful individual who somehow managed to leave a diamond-studded Rolex watch and ten grand in cash in a hotel waste bin (how these ended up in the bin in the first place is a bit beyond me!). And the person who forgot they’d brought an antique rocking horse with them when they checked in.
But the most bizarre find of all has to be a life-sized Dalek. No, seriously. A life-sized Dalek, miserably abandoned in a hotel room with little else to do but exterminate any remaining bath robes and those nasty little shampoo sachets (plus any unwary members of the housekeeping staff unfortunate enough to get in its way).
I mean how do you forget you own this sort of stuff? Do people get half-way down the motorway and think: “I’m sure I’ve forgotten something… No, I’ve got my suitcase and my mobile and I’ve paid my bill. What can it be?… Dammit, I left the life-sized Dalek in my hotel room!”