Susie Rushton: Things, and girls, that go bump in the night

Urban Notebook
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The Independent Online

Her name was Sara, and the first thing I knew about her existence was a faint scratching sound on the landing in the communal area of our building. It was 5.30am. To date, I've experienced two dead-of-night break-ins in London. The first wasn't too bad – whoever stole my laptop was kind enough to tiptoe across the living room floorboards, and I slept through the whole thing. The second was the stuff of a Crimewatch reconstruction: a rustling sound next to my bed jolted me awake, and as I looked into the dark I saw a vast, shaven-headed man clutching my Prada handbag. I shrieked him (and that bag, sadly) out of the house.

So I was prepared for the worst as I tiptoed to the door last Friday night. The muffled sound continued, punctuated by the metallic scratching of someone working a lock. Opening the door a crack, I found slumped on the carpet a woman in her late 20s. She was posed as in those photos that accompany articles about binge-drinking ladettes. If she had been asleep I might have left her, but she was babbling and I had to be up early. Maybe she was dating a man in the flat opposite? (Unpleasant urban truism No 1: I don't know what my neighbours look like, let alone know who they're sleeping with). The keys on her keyring, however, didn't fit the lock.

I began to think she'd somehow wandered into the wrong house. With some coaxing, she told me her name and that of her road, a street parallel to ours. Then, I'm afraid, rather than dress at dawn and walk her home, I escorted her to the front door and (unpleasant urban truism No 2: A decent night's sleep top-trumps compassion) pointed her in the right direction and hoped for the best.

Then guilt set in. Had I booted her into the grip of a rapist or under the wheels of a truck? But yesterday, after checking with neighbours in our building (by email, obviously) I discovered Sara had been partying in the upstairs flat. On leaving, she was so drunk she didn't make it down the stairs, and simply dropped to the floor on the landing as the door closed behind her. My conscience was off the hook. Unpleasant urban truism No 3: Look out for yourself, girls – nobody else will.

A whole plate of trouble

The boss of Whole Foods Market, the ruinously expensive gourmet store, slipped on a PR banana skin this week. The American chain, which has its British flagship in High Street Kensington just a few steps away from my desk, sells not only watermelon slices and £5 tubs of berries but, in CEO John Mackey's words "a bunch of junk". Whole Foods is widely reported to be £36m in the red. Is his admission that it sells indulgent food – the enclosed, chilled cheese section is my favourite room in London – a counter-intuitive marketing ploy?