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Smallville: The Day The Roof Fell In

So what do you do when you lose your car keys - and you can count on it that one day you will? If your experience of this small disaster is like that of Peter Farrell, be prepared to buy a birthday card.

Well not literally, more like the day my world collapsed.

“Well they must be somewhere in the house.” Not for the first time, I had lost/mislaid the car keys; when inevitably they would turn up in the airing cupboard, washing machine or in the ignition.

I unlocked the back door, porch, gate and garage noticing that the milkman had left the orange juice, so it must be Monday. The car had not been used since Saturday night and was locked, so no chance of the keys being in the car.

I stared at the hook, especially designed to display the keys in a prominent position. Having had a set of duplicate keys made precisely for this eventuality was fortuitous, but at a cost - £54 to be exact -and I went on to make a fruitless search of all the coats in the hall.

We normally had a fairly rigid routine where I quickly got on with the breakfast whilst my wife busied herself cleaning the bathroom, tidying the bedroom and sorting out the washing; but with the loss of the keys this was disrupted and we were in each other’s way.

“What if you left the keys in your pocket and then dropped them, what did we do yesterday?” Her observation had widened the area of search to over four square miles, as we were in the habit of going for a long walk on Sunday afternoons.

Every drawer was searched twice but in vain; I forgot to mix the concoction of seeds, soya milk and fruit; the eggs were overcooked, the toast was burnt leaving crumbs in the butter, and the coffee too strong.

My view that they could have dropped out of my pocket in the newsagents yesterday morning hardly seemed plausible, and I left her with the breakfast things and the washing up. On the way to the newsagents and deep in thought, I met up with our neighbour from across the road.

“You don’t seem your usual self today,” this lady, despite been partially sighted had noticed my downcast manner and I enlightened her.

“You never know, someone could have handed them into the Police Station.” Her optimism brought visions of a cat in hell and flying pigs, but I saw some straw and clutched at it.

“Mmm, you could be right”

By the time I reached the newsagents, head down and scanning the road, any optimism had faded. My negative “I don’t suppose, by chance, there is a possibility that I just may have dropped etc. etc. “ caused all in the shop to immediately and enthusiastically search every corner which induced me to buy a birthday card for my sister-in-law, well in advance.

The search was abandoned temporarily as my wife had an appointment with the opticians before calling at the bakery and shoe repairers. The spare car keys were in the hidden draw with the chequebooks and passports and I expertly released the catch with a screwdriver, and shortly afterwards we drove into town.

The optician merely arranged an eye test for my wife for the following week, surely an arrangement that could have been conducted over the phone? We made our way to the bakery, which presented another problem, a lack of small change in the till; either we changed a ten-pound note in the bank (and I had every intention of avoiding the bank today) or we would have to owe the assistant ten pence.

The assistant accepted an assurance that I would return later and wrote herself a note to that effect.

We had never used the facilities of the shoe repair shop before, and after a brief examination the shoes were given a number and “…will be ready by Saturday, £14.95; in advance please.” (A peculiar way of doing business, what if my wife was dissatisfied with the result?).

Not what she expected and her “You’ll have to get me some money from the bank to pay the bill” was not what I expected either.

The resultant transactions from the cash machine and paying for the repair in advance failed to produce enough small change for the bakery. Perhaps relaxing over coffee in Mahlers the local restaurant would steady our nerves. The restaurant, a favourite meeting place for many of our friends, occupied the top floor of a department store, but despite the hive of activity seen through the plate glass windows the doors remained firmly closed. The notice displaying the message ‘Closed Today: Annual Stocktaking,’ only reinforced my belief that this was not my day; and we sought out a small café in a side street. An altogether different atmosphere and clientele to what we were used to; a younger element with children, a group of building workers having their well-earned all-day breakfast; while we sipped coffee and brooded over the missing keys.

Now having sufficient small change, and having agreed to meet my wife in the car park, I returned to the bakery to repay the debt. We then arrived safely home without any further mishap.

“Just go over Saturday night, you must have had the keys when we arrived home from the dance.” This was true enough, but we had left earlier than planned from the monthly charity dance as my wife had complained of a dizzy spell after a particularly frenetic cha-cha.


“I know I was, we should have come home much earlier, trust Bob to suggest a cha-cha.”

By the time we had driven to our home - or Fort Knox - all she had wanted to do was to put her feet up and watch Inspector Morse.

”I locked the car, locked the garage door and carried your bag.” I remembered having both sets of keys and assisting with the bag containing the raffle prize (bottle of Blue Nun).

“Then I unlocked the gate, unlocked the porch and unlocked the back door.” She had used her two sets of keys.

“You had to sit down so I switched on the lights, locked the gate, locked the porch and locked the back door.” I had juggled with four multiple sets of keys as well as a shopping bag and had managed to switch on the lights at the same time - impossible; unless…I dropped the car keys in the shopping bag with the Blue Nun, before carefully stowing away the same.

“Er, I’ll just check what we did with the raffle prize.”

The sight of the car keys in the bottom of the shopping bag with the bottle of wine brought immense relief.

Perhaps these events all conspire to occur only once in a lifetime, in which case I shall make a note in the diary with a smile and look to the future with optimism.


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