Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Found: One Gold Ring

We're walking along a street in Paris when this guy just in front bends down and picks something up. He looks around at us and holds out a man's gold ring in the palm of his hand, his expression asking if I had just dropped it. It takes about half a second for me to think it's not mine and clearly it's not his but one of us may as well have it. I instinctively put out my hand and he gives the ring to me.

It takes another second for me to realise the ring is still warm from body heat; if it had been sitting on the cold stone for even a couple of minutes it would also be freezing cold. I look around for who might have dropped it and see a well-off older guy who has just removed a glove and realise the ring must be his. I move to approach him but the young guy who gave me the ring has moved off, thought for a second, then decided to ask me for a small reward for returning the ring.

I pull out a few coins without looking and give them to him whilst keeping an eye on the older guy.

But the young guy wants more money. I have only given him 50 cents. I know where he's coming from - it's an expensive ring, he has done the right thing, the least I can do is reward him decently. Maybe the ring is worth several hundred dollars, maybe more, so what is 10 or 20 Euro in comparison? Problem is, I'm not going to pay paper money for a ring I am about to return to its rightful owner.

I give the kid 2 Euro to get him out of my way because the old guy is moving away now and I really want to give the ring back to him.

But the kid gets shitty with me now and starts demanding more money because it's for food. This really pisses me off. He has simply done what he though was the right thing to do - why expect money for that? I wave him off, leaving him shouting in exasperation. I chase after the old guy.

"Did you just lose a ring?" I ask him.

He looks at his watch. He can't speak a word of English. I point at his ring finger. I show him my rings. I pull the gold ring out of my pocket and mime finding it on the pavement. He does not recognise the ring and walks away muttering.

So. Suddenly I am left with a solid gold ring and now way of returning it to its rightful owner. I look around for anyone looking for a lost ring. It could be anyone. By now they could be anywhere. I feel bad for them and don't know what to do. I think about taking it to the police. I think about selling it. I'm just not sure.

We talk about what an odd thing to happen this was. About the frustration of feeling the owners body heat in the metal. About the pushiness of the kid and how dumb he was to think it was mine when it was in front of us and not behind.

Next day, standing outside the Louvre, looking at the Seine, a fresh faced girl approaches us from behind and says look what I just found, a gold ring.

The Dreaded One and I look at each other. Oh yeah?

"Yours?"the girl asks.

"No," we both say.

"Is it gold?"

We shrug.

"You take it. For good luck."

"No, you keep it for good luck."

She leaves us alone to look for another victim.

What I like about all this is that it's an inventive scam. If you get sucked in properly and hand over the 10 or 20 Euro I've since read occurs, you have your own greed to blame. You know this supposed gold ring is not yours, but you realise that 20 Euro is a damn good price for this chunky ring. Hell, who knows how much it's worth. It's a good little scam.

I now know where the warmth of the ring came from. I'm glad I only forked out a Euro or two (it will make for an amusing addition to our coffee table collection of trip memorabilia), and I amused to think the old French guy probably thought I was trying this local scam on him.

And I am very glad I didn't hand it into the police or take it to a jeweller to be valued. They would have gotten a good laugh out of it though.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Grumpy In Prague

Latest Grumpz column. This was verz last minute and I wasn§t sure how it would turn out but the editor simplz replied with lots of hahas and LOVE IT in caps. Zou have to like a response like that.

I have heaps of photos to share but am on someone else§s computer, so I can§t post anz photos just zet of mz adventures in Prague.

Grumpz In Prague

Greetings from mz new hometown, The Cyek Republic§s capital, Prague. It§s been prettz non-stop since I arrived a few dazs ago. I have friends here which is a good thing because thez know all the cool places to go and thez know how to speak the local lingo which is a good thing because the further into Eastern Europe zou go the weirder the languages are. In Spain, France, Italz and Germanz, if I stare at a slab of writing and summon all mz mental powers, I can generallz get the gist of a bit of it. But in Cyek, forget it…

Whoa. I just read over what I§ve written here and either I§ve picked up a Cyek accent or this is one weird-arsed kezboard. Or it could be the beer. I§ve been drinking rather a lot of Cyek beer… and Absinthe. Mazbe the green fairz is making me see funnz shapes and mispellings where there are none. How is this looking for zou, mz fair editor… am I coming across as a little under the weather or simplz merelz… I forgot what I was going to saz.

Anzwaz. So. Prague. I went to possiblz the cooloest club I§ve ever been to. It§s called The Cross, and it hands down beats anz other club ever in the cool pants department. Contemporarz metal sculpture for furniture, nooks, crannies, art on the wall and rammed full of friendlz, unpretentious people. I wanna live in that place. If zou§re ever in Prague, do check out The Cross. Come and saz hello §cos I§ll probablz still be there.

Also another club worth checking out is 02. Mz friends said there§s a pzstrance night at 02. I said great, lets go. Thez said not sure because it§s a bit small. I said don§t care. Thez said no it§s reallz small. I said what are we talking here, a night club for hamsters­ insert question mark I can§t make the question mark kez work. Mz friends said not it§s for humans but it used to be a toilet block in the local park. Well that sealed it – never been to a club night in a toilet. Not an actual toilet.

Indeed, this place was tinz. If six people were on the dancefloor, it was crowded. It was hilarious bacause there were waaaz more than six of us on the dancefloor towards the end of the night. We told the guz running it that he needed to build a bigger dancefloor. He scratzched his chin, looked around, then got a couple of his bozs to tak√© some of the tables and chairs outside. Now zou could fit twice as manz people as six on the dancefloor… that would be 12… sorrz, brain in szrup mode… and now I§ve distracted mzself and can§t remember waht the next bit was going to be.

We took a break from clubbing and drinking and stuff for a daz and went forest hunting. This wasn§t about shooting animals in a forest, it turned out to be a hunt for an actual forest.

There§s meant to be heaps of them just out of Prague, but we couldn§t find a single one no matter how much mud we trudged through. We found lots of fields and there were lots of trees scattered about that if all squished together might have made nice forests, but no actual forests. We did find a place with some prettz water at that base of a steep cliff but unfortunatelz the fog was so thick we couldn§t see the prettz water.

Reallz nice fog though.

Two more things I§ve learned whilst in Prague… damn can§t find the colon kez. So anzwaz, to more things are 1 – zou don§t want to go to a nightclub in Prague. Well zou might, but not for the same reasons zou might want to go to a nightclub anzwhere else in the world… well mazbe thez could be the same reason… what I§m trzing to saz here is that nightclubs in Prague are brothels. And I mean that in the same waz I saz the 02 club was a toilet. Zou want to dance to loud music, zou go to a dance club or a music club. Zou want to paz a stranger to have fun with zour wang, zou go to a nightclub.

Lesson B is… that is, number two lesson I§d like to leave zou with, is don§t spill the Absinthe on the bench when zou are trzing to do that thing with the fire and the sugar cubes and the spoon with holes, because that shit WILL make the bench go on fire.

Okaz, gotta go. Friends have just called to ask if I want to go to the toilet again. Got to put out the fire and head out.

Grumpz is freelance writer and gzpsz, Lee Bemrose. Contact him at