Dot writes: today has been a successful day whose achievements have included a trip to the swimming pool and acquiring a free single bed from a lady in Ballsbridge, but its least pleasant part will remain with me for some time: the moment at which I found myself at the corner of the rose garden in St Anne’s park, with the two boys, at the end of a vigorous walk plus playground visit, with rain coming on, without the car key. In the right pocket of my jacket: my housekeys, retrieved some fifteen minutes earlier from Frank who had fished them out and attempted to take them up the climbing frame. Left pocket: my phone, also retrieved from Frank. Jeans pockets: two hankies and ten euros in coins just in case. But no car-key. I had even put it in the jeans rather than the jacket because I was particularly concerned not to lose it since – you see, it gets worse – I hadn’t been able to find my own car-key that morning and had taken Ken’s instead.
He was not very amused when I rang him.
I would have liked to have gone back to look for the key without involving Ken, but, unfortunately, after some highly lively explorations among the trees, hillocks and obscurer paths of the park, several flights from invisible monsters and much climbing, swinging and sliding in the playground, the boys were too tired to retrace our steps. Run about hysterically and demolish the temporary fencing, yes. Walk steadily back the way we had come, not a chance. So I rang Ken and asked him to cycle out to look after the boys so I could walk back to the playground without them and search where I thought the key would have fallen. It seemed probable it had been dislodged when Frank was picking my pockets of various other things, as mentioned above.
Ken informed me in a somewhat intense tone just how much it was likely to cost to replace the key, especially if we couldn’t find mine. I thought about that while we waited for him to arrive, in between shouting at the boys (I was not feeling too calm or resourceful by this point). Either I would find the key or we would cancel the new shower we’re having put in the week after next.
There was a charity five-kilometre run in St Anne’s park today, so the park was extremely busy with runners, families of runners and stewards who made sure no-one got lost and shouted encouragement and praise at anyone looking particularly red and slow. I thought this likely to go against us, because with all these official-looking people around surely someone would have picked up the key and given it to one of them, and how on earth would I know which? When Ken finally arrived (after ages, several hours, which he probably spent reading a book just to punish me),* I hared off back to the playground. I was now carrying a small bag of poo as well (thank goodness I hadn’t left the travel potty in the car), which seemed symbolic somehow. Anyway, there was a man in a council uniform picking up litter just outside the playground and I approached him and asked in wild and distracted fashion if he had found a key. He hadn’t, even though he’d just been in the playground, but he came back in with me to help search. I looked by the climbing frame where I’d had a tussle with Frank and got my housekeys back off him. I went over to where he pulled my phone out and tried to focus on the ground in that area. I shared my tale of woe with a couple of the other parents, who sympathized and began to direct their own gazes downwards. But I didn’t find the key. I was just ready to give up and say goodbye to the new shower when – may blessings be forever showered upon her – a woman came over and said “Is this your key?” And it was.
I said something a bit gushing. I also gushed a little at the man in the council uniform. Then I scarpered back to where Ken and the boys were waiting (Frank had enlivened the wait by trying to pick Ken’s pocket too). When we got home I even managed to find my own car-keys, which were, quite predictably, in the pocket of my fleece, and had only been hard to find earlier because Ken’s fleece was hung over the top of mine thereby concealing it.
I flatter myself I am not especially materialistic, and nobody was in danger of losing a limb or anything, but it really was an extremely unpleasant feeling thinking I’d lost one and possibly both car-keys. In fact the stress hasn’t entirely worn off and I can still hear the intermittent zzzt zzzt of my frazzled nerve-endings shorting out. I’m not sure whether it was better or worse than the time a couple of months ago when I thought I’d lost my wedding and engagement rings. (Did I blog about that? They turned up in my earrings box.) Ken was a bit shaken too.
*I might get a slightly different account of both the time interval and his activities if I asked him