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Donkin's World: A Conspiracy Of Coincidental Events

Richard Donkin finds himself all alone in a cold world.

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Yesterday was a good day. I designed an egg rack better than any I could find on the market. I expect it will stay in my notebook. Today, however, has been a long Good Friday.

The Chinese have auspicious days when all the planets are aligned together. Something like this must have occurred today for me, but in reverse. It worked like a conspiracy of coincidence.

All conspiracies need a starting point. This one probably began a few weeks ago when people came to fit a new kitchen. For three weeks we have been camping in the house but the new kitchen has been worth it. We have a shiny new floor that we’re trying our best to keep that way.

In what may seem an entirely unrelated event - stay with me - last week I went up to London to an evening of drinks and canapés hosted by the Malta Tourist Board. John, our eldest, was in town the same evening and we met at Waterloo on a late train home. Back at the house we didn’t want to wake anyone so John went in search of the emergency door keys in our secret garden hiding place.

The keys are in a plastic bag. I noticed them a few days later on a desk in the house, then forgot about them. There’s not much need for them as the house is occupied most of the time. But last night John went to London and stayed out while George went to Guildford and stayed with a friend. Late in the evening I went outside to wheel the dustbin to the front of the house for the morning collection. Then I stopped myself. Tomorrow was a bank holiday. Most likely there would be no bin collection.

When Gill got home from work after a late shift she checked on the internet but couldn’t find the schedule of council collections. The bins were forgotten.

I worked late, coming to bed about 3 am. Gill woke me at eight with a cup of tea and reminded me she was going swimming when the pool opened at 9 am, later than usual because of the Easter Break. Just after nine I heard the distinctive grinding of the dustbin lorry so slipped in to my dressing gown and slippers and went downstairs.

I opened the front door and took the newspaper out of the letter box. It was a cold, damp, breezy, morning. Normally I would access the bins through the side door but I didn’t want to mess up the kitchen floor so walked around the front, stopping briefly to chat with the bin man who was moaning about having to work on a bank holiday, even though he was being paid triple time.

Walking back to the front door I saw the wind blow it shut. There’s a Yale latch that ensures that when it closes it is always locked. It was one of those slow motion “oh no” moments, the culmination of all the aforementioned events coming together in perfect harmony so that it only took a brief intervention from the elements to flip the trap, leaving me well and truly scuppered.

It’s amazing the detail you notice in the garden when you have some time to spend with your plants. I went to the secret key stash, knowing it was bare. I thought about the electric garage switch in the car but the car was locked. I would have read the newspaper but that was in the house with the dog. It didn’t seem right that the dog was inside and I was out in the cold. Dogs are great at alerting you to intruders but useless at letting you in. When Gill arrived home an hour and a half later I was frozen to the bone.

I've been going over the question of blame. Was it the binmen who cannot be bothered to wheel the bin out themselves? Was it John for not replacing the key, Gill for giving up on the internet, George for staying out? Or was it the wind? The dog could be blamed for being a dog. Peripherally I could blame the kitchen people, even the Maltese Tourist Board. But I cannot blame myself. I am the victim of a conspiracy. No question about that.


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