I'd struggle to explain, and more pertinently to justify, everything I've ever done on a night out. Every weird text I've ever sent at two in the morning, the incomprehensible conversations I've started in smoking areas, and the sad and fat-saturated trays of pale chips I've bought from paint-peeled vans while stumbling home are all misdemeanors my sober self would never consider, would never want to consider. Then again, I've never had to justify them, because I've never been caught on camera doing them by the club photographer. Then again, again, I've never been caught on camera trying to steal a mirror from a nightclub.
And so we turn to the startled young man, caught on camera, trying to steal a mirror from a nightclub in Swansea. The photo, already doing the rounds on Twitter, was taken at a night called Delusion in Swansea nightclub called The Scene, and that is as much as we know about the incident at this stage. In this case, the unanswered questions vastly outnumber, swamp and smother, the answered ones.
For example, are we correct to assume that this is a mirror that is being stolen? Some on Twitter have posited the idea that the Startled Young Man is in fact stealing a piece of wall art. Which, yes, okay, could be true, but would then provoke a further rung of questioning as to whether or not nightclubs in Swansea normally hang art on their walls, and if so what art? And while I'm keen to clarify exactly what is going on in this picture, I have neither the time nor inclination to pursue a speculative thesis on the aesthetic of Swansea nightclubs at this stage.
So, for the sake of argument, it's a mirror. Nightclubs have mirrors in their bathrooms. It's a mirror.
The immortal question, then—far greater than the 'what'—is why? Why is the Startled Young Man stealing a mirror from a nightclub? Perhaps a more effective way of looking at this is questioning the premeditation of the theft. Did he leave his house, flat or student halls with this plan in mind? Did he spend the entirety of his pre-drinks boring anyone who would listen with lofty claims of mirror theft?
"It's easy," he'd pronounced, to the living room. "You just pretend you're tying your laces, then as you stand up you slide it off the wall, real graceful-like. S'like it never happened," he'd concluded, winking and swigging from his beaker of gin and blackcurrant squash.
"Come and have a look at this," he'd whispered to a sweet, mousy girl he'd met that evening, before leading her into his bedroom, stacked as it was to the ceiling with nightclub mirrors of all different shapes sizes. Great ornately-framed mirrors from Wetherspoons, wide space-age mirrors from Oceanas, cracked graffiti-riddled mirrors from underground-basement clubs. "It's...beautiful," she'd replied, the refracted light catching her eyes.
This scenario is possible, but to be honest it seems far more likely that the Startled Mirror Thief only decided to steal the mirror moments before it happened. I think, the more likely explanation is that this is his first and probably only nightclub mirror theft, that the rattled Young Mirror Thief had knocked back one too many double rums, found himself in the toilet zipping up his flies and eyed a mirror. Maybe he liked the mirror. Maybe he decided it would look nice in his hallway, above the shoe-rack. Maybe it wasn't even that considered. Maybe he literally noticed that the mirror was probably loose enough to remove from the wall, and before he knew it he was storming across the sticky-black of the dancefloor, his reflective panel under-arm.
Which brings us to the pivotal moment: the photo itself. The stunning, stunned second in which the realest of hustles was captured. Look into the eyes of the Young Mirror Thief. On one level, the look in his eyes—that shocked "I've fucked it" stare—reflects the realisation that he's been caught on camera and as such his perfect crime is perfect no longer. But I think his expression tells us something different. This isn't the moment he realises he's been caught stealing a mirror from a nightclub, this is the moment he realises he's actuallystealing a mirror from a nightclub. The instance the whirling stops and the reality of (a) how pissed you are and (b) what you're doing as a result of that, become clear.
What comes next, of course, is the guilt—the guilt that's already creeping into his eyes as the photo is taken. We have no idea if Swansea's Startled Mirror Thief left with the mirror that night, or if he took it back to the bathroom. If he did leave with it, if he did somehow get it past security and take it home, then spare a thought for the cruel ironic fate that will have now befallen him.
Self-reflection is a cruel mistress. If you are to steal a mirror from a nightclub in Swansea, when the night is over, when the music has stopped, you must be prepared to look yourself in the eye.