LOSING things is one of life’s frustrations. Twice this month my house keys have disappeared down one of Stephen Hawking’s black holes.
The first time it turned out not to be a black hole so much as my sister-in-law’s handbag; and the second occasion is a tale told by a key-losing idiot.
My wife’s sister popped round for a chat, a cup of tea and to meet our daughter just back from her year away. She stayed an hour or so, then drove home.
Sometime afterwards, my keys disappeared – although, if we’re talking theoretical physics, they’d already been transported by then.
I was heading out to play squash and had no way of locking my bike without those keys. In a lathering dash, I borrowed a bike lock and pedalling off towards probable defeat (later translated with sweated inevitability into actual defeat).
While I was busy getting bashed around the squash court, my wife texted her sister asking if she’d picked up any keys. Turned out she had and later I was reunited with my keys.
‘Pockets are rifled, bags upended; my mind is upended, my memory rifled’
Now it is 7am and I am about to drive to work and my keys have disappeared again. I can’t blame my sister-in-law as she’s not been here.
Pockets are rifled, bags upended; my mind is upended, my memory rifled. But those keys have vanished. I drive off with a spare front-door key. At work a university porter to lets me into my office – well, I say ‘my’ office, but there are two other names on the door and I’m the squatter.
My wife sends me a text telling me to think back to what I was doing at the time. A good idea, except that what I was doing at the time was forgetting where I’d put my keys.
The day passes. Home again, I scrabble through drawers, lift the sofa cushions and retrace my steps to the garage. But there is no sign of those keys. Up in our little attic bedroom, I hunt through the pockets of the jeans I was wearing, look in the drawer full of change, foreign notes and plastic collar stiffeners from shirts I no longer own. Still not a trace or a twinkle of those bloody keys.
Back in the kitchen, I check the back door is locked. It is but something seems amiss. Through the glass I can see the reflection of the keys, only the mirror image doesn’t seem quite right.
That’s because it isn’t a mirror image at all, but my lost keys on the outside. They’ve been in the door for a day.
As Alfred Lord Tennyson almost said: “’Tis better to have loved and lost your keys than never to have loved at all.”
That other poetic sage, Ozzy Osbourne, once said that of all the things he’d lost, he missed his mind the most.
Losing those keys times two felt like losing my mind. It’s that blank panicky feeling: something should be there and it’s not.
So that’s my advice for today: if you lose your keys, look in the lock.
Incidentally, in my life I have done this at least three times: keys have been left in a motorbike, in the car door and, once, overnight in the front door.