Picture this: Suzy and I walking down our street the other day. Suzy is in her pyjamas under her coat - well, I did tell her no one would notice, and I was right. We pass a car, parked slightly wonkily. Its window is open, and a large handbag, also gaping open, is on the seat. Opportunistic theft is common round here, and this is an open invitation, but Suzy and I haven't got the nerve, and anyway we don't like that sort of bag.
About 5 doors up, a student house, matching the car in dilapidation, has its front door standing wide open, so I go up and knock. Suzy stands guard by the car, looking fierce in her jim-jams. I am ignored. Cheerful voices carry on chatting at that amazing volume so beloved of well-brought-up girls standing two feet from each other, so I knock again, louder and somewhat more persistently, and eventually a young woman breaks off her conversation and comes to the door.
Before I can speak, she has assumed that slightly pitying yet disappointed look of someone finding the caller is not interesting or a bosom friend, i.e. not her own age. I ask if the car and bag belong to anyone there, as they are likely to be stolen if left open. She says dismissively "Oh, she's coming out in a minute" and turns away.
The middle-aged mother in me surges forward and says in that particular sort of voice that a minute could be all it takes to have the bag stolen, and that we could have stolen it ourselves by now if we'd been so inclined. And instantaneously, almost imperceptibly, the girl's look changes to that of the nagged child, and I have a flash of insight into how she sees me. I give up, laugh, say "I know, I sound like your mum" and walk away. Suzy and I walk on, two annoying irrelevant middle aged women in peculiar outfits, and marvel at the young. Were we like this, we wonder? Most probably. Silly girls, look at us now, and be warned.