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The new car can actually manage without her, writes Lynne Mortimer, as she hunts for its missing key

PUBLISHED: 10:55 06 November 2017

This person was not spotted outside my house, Picture: OJOGABONITOO

This person was not spotted outside my house, Picture: OJOGABONITOO



Our new car doesn’t really need us.

Push-button ignition; press the door handle to lock; self-parking mechanism; tells me when the washer bottle needs replenishing; reversing camera; a thousand warning beeps; automatic, self-adjusting lights... if I gave it a shopping list, it would probably go to Sainsbury’s by itself.

The key only has to be about my person or in my handbag in order to open the doors and start the engine. Consequently we keep both keys in a secret place, well away from the vehicle... in case their proximity unlocks the door and someone breaks into the car and steals the Disney CDs.

Saturday morning: “Where’s the other car key?” my husband asked.

“It’s probably in my coat pocket,” I said, unworried.

“Not it’s not.”

It’s a good job I’d already taken that billet doux from my lover out of my pocket and eaten it.

When you’ve been married nearly 40 years, pockets are no longer private territory. For years I have been raiding the pockets of my husband’s suit jacket for change for the car park. The most unexpected items I have found in there were dead daddy long legs. (Is the plural daddies long legs?) When my son was about five years old, he would pop them in his daddy’s pocket. It was a gift from a small, impecunious son.

Back to the key. I had not exhausted the possibilities. It might be in my handbag. It wasn’t. Or in my jeans pocket. It wasn’t. Or on the bookshelves. No, not there either.

Next we investigated the possibility I’d dropped it in the front garden but it wasn’t there.

“I expect somebody has found it and they’ve taken it away and they’re just waiting for the chance to steal the car,” said Mr Glass-half-empty, surveying the cars parked in the street, looking, I imagine, for the one with a driver wearing a black-and-white striped top and a stocking over his head, with a bag marked “swag”.

Then he had another idea. “Did you throw it in the bin?” he asked. Yes, that’ll be it,” I replied (sarcasm being the lowest form of wit). I sighed: “I don’t know − maybe I did.”

It was then he had his brilliant idea.

Rather than going through the contents of the bin, he extracted the full rubbish bag from the kitchen bin, took it outside and waved it next to the car to see if it would unlock, as it would have done if the key were in there. Nothing happened except that passers-by tried hard not to stare.

He took the bin bag out to the wheelie bin and next emerged from the house with the bag of recycling − newspapers, cardboard etc and waved this around the car, to no avail.

Where’s a boy wizard when you need him? A bit of Harry Pottering such as “expelliarmus” would have been handy. As it was we were more in Macbeth’s weird sisters’ territory.

Bone of chop and film that clings

Cellophane and sticky things,

Mouldy cheese, onion rings,

For a charm of powerful trouble,

Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

And it didn’t smell too good either.

Having exhausted the possibilities and come up with nothing (although I did find two ballpoint pens down the side of the chair) we decided the key would turn up and that we would just carry on with our plans for the day and not mention it again. In the end we had to mention it because we weren’t talking at all.

As for the missing key, it turned up safe and sound at home, on the floor, under the footstool. I knew I hadn’t lost it.

n Thank you, Pat the drummer, from Leiston. She read that, among my other signs of ageing, when I put my knickers on inside out I can’t be bothered to take them off and change them to the right way round.

Pat writes: “Let me give you a helpful hint - put your knickers away the right way out. I’ve done this ever since the day when, dressing in the light from the landing so as not to wake up my husband, I went to work with my trousers on inside out...” Pat says she didn’t notice until she saw what appeared to be turn-ups on her trousers and realised they were the hems from the inside, on the outside.

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