Losing it: from David Cameron’s bodyguard forgetting his gun to a cockatoo called Brexit

<span>Photograph: Martin Godwin/The Guardian</span>
Photograph: Martin Godwin/The Guardian

David Cameron’s run of bad luck continues. The former PM’s latest escapade involves his bodyguard leaving a gun in the toilet of a plane about to take off from New York for Heathrow. (Is it obligatory to take your gun off before using the loo to avoid nasty accidents?) When the gun – a 9mm Glock 17 pistol – was found by another passenger, it caused uproar on the flight. Cameron, of course, has form in this department, having once left his then eight-year-old daughter Nancy behind in a pub and driven home after Sunday lunch. Perhaps entrusting a country to this man was not a good idea.

Mislaying a child or a gun sets the bar pretty high, but others have made bold efforts to compete in the lost-property stakes. Intelligence officers seem to be especially susceptible. In 2000, after a night out in a tapas bar in London, an MI6 officer left a laptop containing files relating to foreign intelligence in a taxi. In 2008, another officer left a confidential Home Office report on al-Qaida on a Waterloo train. “Intelligence officer” may be a misnomer.

London Transport’s lost property office, the biggest in Europe, receives more than 300,000 items annually. Keys, umbrellas, bags and phones arrive in their tens of thousands, but more unusual items have included a cuddly gorilla, a prosthetic leg, a full-size carpet and a judge’s wig. Sex toys are ubiquitous. More than 150 have been handed in to London Transport since 2014, with the greatest number found at Cockfosters.

Every year, Travelodge lists the the items left behind at its UK hotels. The 2015 stocktake threw up a real Shetland pony, a stuffed raccoon and a 5ft Swarovski-encrusted wedding cake. The 2018 survey suggested a quiet year, with nothing more diverting than a flat-pack greenhouse, a scarecrow and a cockatoo called Brexit. But 2019 surpassed itself, revealing a pair of alpacas called Ant and Dec, a 5ft unicorn, a bonsai tree, an Aston Martin, a gingerbread village (complete with residents), an urn containing a late relative’s ashes (these are lost surprisingly frequently) and an oversleeping best man. To mislay a gun may be regarded as a misfortune; to forget the best man just before your wedding suggests epic carelessness.