Hang on, I thought. Am I about to become a prime suspect in a murder investigation?
About a year ago, my parents gave me some money towards a pretty expensive metal detector. At 50, I was looking for a hobby to take me into retirement, and I’d recently got into TV shows such as The Curse Of Oak Island and Mud Men on the History channel. Both are about treasure hunting and absolutely fascinated me. I learned that mudlarking – searching shores for items during low tide – has a rich history. In the Victorian era, some of London’s poorest citizens survived on what they could find on the shores of the Thames.
My workplace is close enough to the river to nip down at lunchtime, so I applied for a licence and went to try it out. Down by the water, I totally forgot that I was in the city; I could let my mind wander for an hour. There was only one problem: I was concentrating so much on hearing a bleep from my metal detector that I was forgetting to look. That is the essential part of mudlarking: concentrating on what you can see below your feet and off in the distance. I ditched the detector and went with a bucket and scraper instead.