My Theft
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You’re right, everyone has a thieving phase in their lives, I believe. At boarding school (I’m sure you remember) we were manic thieves – of everything except money: that was an immovable stigma. But aftershave, shampoo, porn, food, clothes, chocolate, booze, fags – fair game. One boy, who became a very successful barrister, used to take orders for stuff he’d steal from Woolworths in Elgin. Eventually store detectives used to follow him around. I stole lots of books that I wanted and couldn’t afford. Keats and Embarrassment, The English Auden, The Metropolitan Critic (I confessed to Clive). I used to steal the New Statesman once a week in the early ’70s. Cultured larceny – and no CCTV, of course, so it was dead easy. Growing anxiety – fear of discovery – makes you stop. Or growing up does.

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