Lost Keys

23rd February 2007

I lost the car again this morning. Well not lost exactly, ‘temporarily forgot where I’d parked’ it would be a more accurate description.
I do this quite often nowadays. It’s an age thing I suppose. Although I wasn’t all that hot at remembering where I’d parked the car when I was much younger. I was never particularly absent-minded but, whatever failings I had in this area, they all seemed to be concentrated on the business of forgetting where I’d parked the car.
Multi-storey car parks were my main bugbear, and many the frustrated hours I’ve spent in them hopefully and hopelessly searching their dank, dark levels.

“Are you sure you left it on level D?” This is The Trouble.
“Well you were with me.”
“Yes but I didn’t notice.”
 “Perhaps you ought to have?”
“Me? It isn’t my place. It was you who parked the car therefore it’ is you who is responsible for remembering where you parked it. Although I can see I shall have to start remembering. Failing that we’ll have to start leaving a trail of bread like Hansel Gretel.”
The Trouble can be very cutting sometimes. Mind you she had every right to be cutting on this occasion as although I was correct in my belief that I’d left the car on level D we turned out to be in the wrong car park.
I once spent a good hour looking for our blue Ford Cortina before I remembered I’d changed it for a red Mondeo about a week previously. Fortunately I was on my own at the time so the incident passed without causing me any embarrassment. Which can’t be said for the time I took my twelve-year-old grandson to watch Macclesfield Town play football one Saturday afternoon.
Fully aware of my habit of forgetting where I’d left the car I made a note of the name of the street in which I’d parked it. Laburnum Drive. When we returned after the match it had disappeared. There was a space exactly where it had been, leading me to immediately jump to the conclusion that it had been stolen. Nevertheless I double and triple checked the whole length of the street to see if I hadn’t perhaps left it further up or down the street than I thought I had, but no, I was right. The car had definitely been stolen.
We made our way the short distance back to the ground and I reported the theft to a policeman in a patrol car still on duty outside the main exit. He told us to hang on for a few minutes then he would take us to the station to make a full report and see about getting us home. Five minutes later we were in the back of his patrol car on the way to the station.
We’d travelled no more than a couple of hundred yards when he made a left turn. And a few seconds later drove past my car, by now just about the only parked car left on the road. It was definitely my car. What do do? My first thought was to completely ignore it, let the policeman do his stuff, then return later for it. I hadn’t worked out how I was going to explain to the police how it came to be back in my possession but in the event there was no need to as at that moment my grandson pointed out of the window and shouted: “Grandad! Your car!”
I feigned surprise. “Is it? No, mine’s a darker blue than that.”
“No it’s yours Grandad, it’s your registration number,” the eagle-eyed little bugger squealed.
The policeman stopped the car and turned to look at me. “Sir? Is it your car?”
Wishing the earth would open up and swallow him – not me, I’ve no wish to give the hot bowels of the earth a closer examination but I didn’t mind the policeman doing it, take some of his mates if he wanted – I had to admit that it was.
It turned out that I’d been looking for the car on Laburnum Avenue, the next street down, and parallel to, Laburnum Drive.
“It isn’t the first time this has happened,” said the policeman, in the tone of voice that was consoling but nevertheless got over the fact that he thought he was dealing with a bloody idiot. “It’ll be the last time it happens to me,” I said.
“You’re going to make really sure that we’ve got the right street next time, aren’t you Grandad,” said my solicitous grandson.
“No, we’re never bloody coming here,” I said. “Get in the car.”

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