Writer, photographer, "rapper" and general technophobe takes on the internet in what could be a very, very messy fight. But it's alright: she's harder than she looks, and she's wearing every single ring she could get her hands on.


Friday, 21 May 2010


I think I have Borrowers; tiny little people who live under my floorboards or perhaps behind my fridge or perhaps in my sink drain (something is blocking it), and come into my house when I am asleep and take away small things they think I don`t need and won`t notice. Things like needles and pins and socks and bits of thread and hair elastics and hair pins. Things that I buy, and I buy, and I buy, and yet I never seem to have, even though there should be thousands of them somewhere in my house. Which I wouldn`t mind, except that – as they don`t ask me for them first and they certainly don`t give them back – they are less `Borrowers,` and more `Stealers.`

These little thieves, however, have recently gotten a little ambitious. Whereas I will reluctantly keep buying hair pins and hair elastics for the rest of my life – until I get fed up of it and shave my head to spite them – I can`t very well do that with my house keys. I have no idea what they want my house keys for – perhaps they`re sick of waiting to run in behind me when I open the door in the evening – but they`ve nabbed them and snuck them to whichever part of the house they are luxuriating in (a tower constructed entirely of different coloured cigarette lighters, I would imagine).

“Awesome,” they will have said to each other, dragging the keys along the floor behind them and wondering what they are going to do with my massive, fluffy Hello Kitty keyring (“a kitsch Japanese sofa?”). “We can now come and go as we please,” they will have said, and been very pleased with their new `borrowing` (theft). Except that they seem to have forgotten that they can come and go as they please anyway now, because I have no keys with which to lock my house and therefore have to leave my door open at all times, which would be a problem if I didn`t live in Nichinan.

Which I wouldn`t mind so much, but this obviously gave them a taste for keys and they decided to increase their collection; a few days later my car keys also went missing. I can only assume that they are currently building a very tall car seat and some kind of long stick so that – between the group of them – they can navigate the steering wheel, use the breaks and `borrow` my car to go on little trips to the countryside where they can steal milk and apples and whatnot (just like my mum used to do; they called it "scrumping" to make it sound more cute and less illegal).

This also wouldn`t be so much of a problem – I trashed the house looking for them, failed to find them, cleaned the house back up and then used the spare keys to get to work – but I draw the line at them taking my knickers.

They took my knickers in Yokohama: them or another set of similar borrowers.

“It`s not Borrowers,” my ex-boyfriend would explain every time I told him that little people were stealing my underwear. “It`s perverts walking past your washing while you`re at work.”
“Are you sure it`s not Borrowers?” I said.
“I`m sure it`s not Borrowers.”
"Are you sure it`s not you?"
"I`m sure it`s not me. I don`t want anything to do with them."
“But they`re taking an awful lot of them.”
“Yes, somebody has a lot of your pants. They`re probably selling them on the internet. Stop drying them outside.”
“But.... why?”
“Three words; we`re in Japan.”
And we were both lost in silence for a few minutes, thinking of all of the strange and wonderful things those three words, in fact, cover.
“I still think I`ve got borrowers,” I insisted eventually, partly because I`d rather have little people living in my bathroom pipes than weird men making money out of my underpants without giving me a cut of the profits, and partly because I`d rather have my clean knickers sniffed by weirdos than dry them inside where they`ll start to smell unsniffable.

It can`t be perverts in Nichinan though: Baba would string anyone who went within ten metres of my knickers on the line next to them, and – trust me – she is always, always watching (sometimes, when I`m feeling antisocial and bad tempered, I creep into my house and keep all the lights off just in case she can see I`m home). So it has to be Borrowers.

God knows what they`re doing with them, though. Cutting them into clothes, using them as bedspreads, hanging them up at the windows as curtains: attaching them to a pole and using it a sail for their summer getaway boat. I`m just glad they`re all Primark and cheap as chips, because the seams should be incredibly easy to pick apart.

It`s hard not to feel a little resentful – unable to lock my door, unable to drive, wearing the same three pairs of knickers in rotation – but I just hope they`ve made the most of my goods. I`d hate to have to borrow them back.

And mum – if you get a chance – a pack of knickers in the post would be lovely. I`ll ask my Borrowers what colours they`d like you to get.