Lost & Found
“You can sort through the Lost Property,” they told me. It had to be better than punching tickets on a draughty platform or dealing with crowds of rowdy football supporters. So here I am with a huge container of lost property. What am I supposed to do with all this?
“Start small, “said Jenny, “Take out any small items that are worth say, less than a fiver and put them in this bin – she indicated a large black container. They end up in landfill. Then sort the rest into…let’s see… IT stuff, reading matter, clothes, and…er miscellaneous.”
“Miscellaneous, can be fun. We’ve had some odd things in there. We once had a piece of Brie in a carrier bag. Only found out when it started to stink the place out.”
The job was hardly onerous. After a while it became boring. The things people leave on trains are much the same the world over. Glasses, mobile phones, books and magazines, small items of clothing, gloves or scarves or hats – Jenny claimed she once found a suspender belt and a pair of open crotch panties, but I think she was having me on.
Halfway through the morning I found the painting. It was quite small and wrapped up in a jiffy bag and brown paper. I could feel the frame through the wrapping and couldn’t resist opening the parcel. It was disappointing. Just a picture like a kid might do of people walking around. It looked as if they were going to work in a mill or somewhere. It didn’t look very good; the figures were more like matchsticks. Surely this was one of the worthless items to be consigned to landfill.
When Jenny called me over for our coffee break I mentioned the picture. “I put it to go for landfill,” I said, “It was rubbish.”
Jenny nearly went berserk. She dashed to the discard bin, pulled out the picture and held it up.
“Thank goodness it hasn’t been sent to landfill,” she said, “Can’t you see how valuable it is?
“No. It just looks like some kid’s painting that his parents framed. Can’t think why.”
“Don’t you know anything about painting? Don’t you watch the news?”
“Welll…er…no,” I admitted.
“This is a genuine Lowry, stolen last week. It’s been in all the papers and on the telly. They’ve even offered a reward.”