So, I didn't get my camera back.
Of course you didn't know I'd lost my camera. It was all rather my own fault but no less annoying for all that. The thing is that I don't even know why I took my camera out. I'd been invited to lunch, someone had come over to assist me getting there - my leg still being in plaster - and as we were living my apartment she said, "Here's your camera" so I picked it up and put it in my pocket.
A couple of hours later I left the restaurant and got into a taxi to go home. My leg makes it rather awkward to get into a car but I wriggled my way onto the back seat and started to direct my driver with the usual hand waving and finger pointing that is needed because I can't make myself understood in Chinese.
It was only a short journey so five minutes later I struggled out and paid him. As he drove away I realised that my camera was no longer in my pocket. I had checked it in the restaurant so it could only have fallen out in the cab.
I called someone to help me but they asked me questions that I couldn't answer except with a shrug.
What was the license number of the cab?
What was the driver's number or name?
What did he look like?
As I couldn't even have reliably told them the colour of the cab, I could give them no more information. So they took me off to the police station. More questions, this time ones I could answer.
Where did you get in and out?
What time was it?
Armed with this information they called up a map of Baiyin, clicked on the location, fed in some times and found every cab in a fifteen minute period that had stopped at the relevant places. From that they got the cab drivers' numbers.
They took me off to another police station - one dealing specifically with traffic.
They called up the videos of the streets in question. Found the cab they thought was the right one but with no clear view of the number plate. They started to call cab drivers. I was optimistic. Unfortunately none of the cab drivers remembered picking me up - an unlikely occurrence given that I am one of only two non-Chinese men in the city. All together I was at the two police stations for more than four hours.
When I left they promised to go on trying.
But I didn't get the camera back.
The worst thing isn't the loss of the camera - I was intending to buy a new one when I return to England - but the fact that I hadn't backed up the pictures for the last couple of months so I lost all the pictures I took when it snowed and Teresa and I went for a walk in the park.
Also, if I buy another camera here they are a) more expensive than in England, b) less reliable and quite often fake brands and c) come with the operating system installed in Chinese!
I'll have to hope I can get that OS switched to English in the shop or it won't be usable. The other issues I'll just have to live with.