The Irene Adler of Croydon

I’ve got a nemesis. As we speak, somebody is impersonating me, gallivanting on a wild spending spree, using my identity. It’s not as serious as all that. No foreign holidays have been booked, no Justin Bieber tickets purchased, and nothing that I might actually be forced to pay for. Having made a few enquiries, I have deduced that my Moriarty is none other than an elderly lady living in the Croydon area, who is giving out my phone number by mistake, and I’ve been trying to track her down to let her know.

A few months ago, I started receiving text messages from shops, saying that my orders were ready for collection. Imagining the usual click-a- dick scam, I checked the phone numbers, to discover they were the real, and that the ‘new Homebase wardrobe is ready for collection’ line wasn’t just the old ‘turn up at a warehouse, we steal your life savings and murder you ruse’ – I informed Homebase of the error.

Next came Marks and Spencer, again, the real ones; some sort of trellis plants, if memory serves. Then at last, came hard evidence – a sighting! The mystery began to clear when Age UK of Croydon texted to confirm my booking of their function room. It was pretty obvious, by now, we were not dealing with a hardened criminal. I called the number and spoke to an Age UK operator. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to explain to somebody that you are not who they think you are, even though they’ve no idea who you actually are, and that you are not trying to elicit any details, but are actually just trying to be helpful.

Having established that I was not a phisherman, they informed me that an elderly lady had made the booking. I explained that I was terribly worried she’d think the world had turned on her, because nothing she ever ordered turned up. I thought of my own dear mother, a month away from becoming an Octogenarian, whose purchasing patterns are almost identical to the mystery lady’s. But most of all, if this lovely, geriatric benefactor of the nation’s retail sector was planning a party – perhaps her own eightieth, then nothing should stand in its way.

Having taken time to help Croydon’s own Irene Adler, I was convinced that the affair was now at an end, and that our brief blurring of souls was no more than ships that pass in the night. I pictured her in a party hat, surrounded by loved ones and friends, blowing out candles at the Croydon function room, her phone numbers reprogrammed by a dutiful grandchild, and thinking of all the lovely home-deliveries she had to look forward to.

The attempted identity theft is swept under the carpet, and life moves on towards twilight’s rosy glow…except, she’s at it again – The Scandal in Suburbia continues!

Your order from Matalan is ready!

To continue with the dubious Sherlockian theme, it has been pointed out that there are other explanations, and once all the obvious ones have been discounted, the unlikeliest must be true.

It has been suggested that the old lady is me, my alter ego. It is true that I do not have the most robust of mental states, and that a crack in the psyche could happen. Perhaps the person typing this is the imposter, and my other self, Irene Adler of Croydon, is, in fact, the real me, currently racing round a garden centre on a souped-up mobility scooter. However, I think if I were a lady born early in the last century, I might have devised a rather more successful double identity by now – I had to clear up cat shit this morning!

Another theory is that I have become a somnambulist, wandering Croydon’s high street and retail parks, dressed in my grandmother’s coat, riding the trams as I did so many years ago. There is a direct train from West Hampstead, so I can’t rule it out completely.

The most worrying part of this theory would be to wake up while being fitted for a new girdle in the Marks and Spencers changing room.

That’s just about exhausted it, and there are no prizes for solving the mystery – unless you know a nice, elderly lady in the Croydon area, who spends like there’s no tomorrow, or even better, if you are that wonderful lady. Come on Irene!