Anguish in the rose garden

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.

Instrument of Beelzebub

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

7 thoughts on “Anguish in the rose garden

  1. laura

    I know that feeling and I don’t even have accomplices! (The following is my story and I’ll try to be brief lest I change your theme to: “We are all Blanche DuBois”.) In 1998, I moved to Philly before I met anyone at school – not even Ken. My first apartment was on a street with 1hour metered parking. I couldn’t figure any better than “everyday, I must find a park around 8PM and move the car before 8AM when the meter policing starts”. One night, I went for groceries, parked next to the building, and lugged my bags upstairs. Then, I carefully set the alarm to wake in time to feed quarters into the meter, planning to leave for school at 9AM. Man – Alive! In the morning, I could not find my car keys!!! I ran to put quarters in the meter every hour and started my search for the key. At 11 AM, still without keys, I had the Korean grocer make change so I could hold my “hourly rented spot” and decided I must miss class. Through the frantic moments I called a locksmith and the local VW dealership about replacing keys on the old car ($$$). Still, I was uncertain and indecisive about how I could afford the key, not to mention a ticket and towing to city impound. Finally, I returned, in the rain, to feed the meter at noon and saw a plastic bag with pink paper in it under my car’s rain wipers. In the bag, there was a pink note AND MY KEY. In childlike scrawl some girl had written: “I found this key with VW [logo] on the street. I think it’s from your car. I did not want to leave it outside at night. God bless, Lashanna.”

    I still have that note.

  2. Helen Conrad-O'Briain

    In the dear dead days before mobile phones, we locked our keys in the car up in the Dublin mountains and had to hike to a farmhouse to find a phone – thank God the first one we hit had a phone (this was 1978) – to ask my brother-in-law to drive the second set out from town. Returning to the car we discovered that we were impeding the turning of a VW van full of some very annoyed New Age travelers. NAT have a most undeserved reputation for laid-back.

    1. kenanddot

      Thank goodness for brothers-in-law and spare sets of keys. Must have been a painful wait, though. I hope it didn’t rain.

  3. Katimum

    Dot, do you remember the time when, coming back to the multistorey car park in Yarmouth with yourself, baby sister, friend Ann and her two small children and a vast amount of shopping (I don’t think Ivy and Jackie were with us on that occasion, although they might have been), I discovered I had locked the keys in the Marina? N was at work (I think in Norwich) and the train service back home infrequent. Blessings upon the head of the Policeman who told me not to look and managed to open the door through a crack in the window using a piece of discarded parcel tape! I may have inadvertently enlarged your already expanding vocabulary on that occasion.

    1. Dot

      I don’t remember the incident but I expect I still know the naughty words… Hooray for policemen and their burglary skills.

  4. Katimum

    Talking of burglary skills….is the head teacher of that nursery the boys attend named Fagin, by any chance? Has Frankie been watching Oliver! too often?

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