The key to it all
When I was about 13 my grandmother had a stroke. She made a partial recovery, but my grandfather never really came to terms with what had happened. I would come across him standing alone in a room in their flat, sighing with frustration and repeating to himself: ‘There must be a key to this, there must be something I can unlock that will repair the damage.’
Sadly, he never found that key, but we have all had moments when we have felt the same as he did, trying to work out something and feeling the solution is just beyond our grasp. Actually, I have a problem with keys of any description. There is nothing more terrifying for me to be handed a set of keys to a door and to be told cheerfully: ‘The big one sticks a bit, but if you give it a jiggle and lean on the door at the same time it will be fine’.
Except for some reason it never is fine; for me, keys either don’t open things or else have a habit of disappearing. Or sometimes they get forgotten. One recent example of this is when The Other Half and I stepped out of the house together one cold January evening to walk round to our Italian class. As the door closed behind us we both casually turned to the other and said in unison: ‘You have got the keys, haven’t you?’
Two heads shook firmly in unison. We had our Italian homework, our mobile phones and pens. No money, no keys. There was one other person who had a set; our builder, and he was the other side of London. So we called the builder, went and did our Italian class, borrowed a fiver from someone in the group and shared a beer in the pub down the road until the builder was able to get the keys biked to us later that evening. It being January sitting on the doorstep did not hold much attraction.
So much for the physical; what about the metaphorical? We’re currently in lockdown, but there is huge disagreement as to which is the best key to release us. And it seems we need a whole bunch of them; one for how to get children back into school, another to get people back to work, another to restart the economy, and most importantly the one that can stop this blasted virus wreaking havoc across the world.
On a lighter note, there are loads of films with the word ‘key’ in the title; try Key Largo, The Glass Key, Off Key, The Key to Paradise and Turn the Key Softly, to name but a few. No doubt these need to be explored as we continue life indoors, and I’ve decided to check a few out as part of my cultural activities.
I started this blog yesterday (Saturday), and you would not believe what happened this morning (Sunday). The Other Half went for a morning jog, taking one of the front door keys, and as I was not feeling particularly energetic my alternative exercise consisted of nipping round the corner to buy a newspaper. I grabbed a set of keys from the box where they all live, closed the front door, tried to lock it and realised I had picked up the set to my daughter’s house, which have a similar key ring. I went and bought the paper and had to hang around on the doorstep until The Other Half, who had returned from his jog while I was out, came out of the shower and heard my repeated rings on the doorbell.
Keys? Me? I rest my case.