We were off to the theatre. “As You Like It”, one of Shakespeare’s comedies with a silly story and lots of fun. Our friends were on the doorstep, it was time to go; we had a long drive to Stratford-upon-Avon ahead of us.
Kelly was in the house, wielding a noisy vacuum cleaner and all we had left to do was to shoo Millie back inside and set off. Kelly knew that Jay, Millie’s dogsitter, would arrive before she left the house. Jay’s key and pay was on the kitchen counter. Kelly had her own key which she would leave behind when she finished her job.
The drive was uneventful. It was a pleasant day and after a good two hours' car journey we enjoyed sitting on the terrace above the river, eating our sandwiches and watching the ducks. Absentmindedly I pulled a sandwich out of the bag on the table. “Something wrong here,” I said, "the filling is cheese, I can’t eat cheese.” Sally and Frank had been watching me. “It’s wrong,” Sally said calmly, “because your hand is in our bag.”
Standing in the long queue for the Ladies is never a pleasure; I pass the time by watching myself and all the other ladies dying for a pee before the show in the tall mirrors, as we slowly shuffle towards the tiny cubicles and relief. Standing in line seems to drain the life out of you, we all have a vacant look, intent on getting to the promised land before the last bell.
often thundering past me but sometimes just standing quietly, alone, or in pairs, silently watching or performing 'off-stage', while the main action takes place in the centre. At a very quiet moment my phone went off, right under the feet of the banished Duke Senior, whose well-turned calf muscle didn’t even twitch.
I hate the morons who can’t remember to switch off their phones; I had pressed the off button long and hard before the show started; surely, it couldn’t have been my phone. Besides, it was a brand new phone, never used, and only one person knew the number, Jay. Why would she ring me? The faint ringing stopped. Ten minutes later it rang again, still faintly and for just a few rings. I shifted in my seat, getting uncomfortable. I was sure I’d switched the phone off. Concentrating on the play became an effort. Sure enough, the damn thing went off again, just three rings this time. Theatre auditoria provide no holes to crawl into, nor could I interrupt the performance by creeping out; the whole theatre’s attention would have been focussed on me. Sitting so close to the stage, I would have created a huge disturbance. I was stuck.
When the interval came I shot out, examining the phone. It was on and the display showed a 'locked' symbol. I couldn’t do a thing to it, neither switch it on nor switch it off, check for messages or retrieve missed calls. Apparently, the only thing it would do was to sound the ringtone. I was desperate now and ready to grind it under my heel, when I had a better idea: I removed the battery, which killed it stone-dead.
All was calm when we arrived home. Millie was alone, hysterically happy to see us, but fine. Jay had taken only a small part of her pay and left a long, apologetic note to say that there were details she would need to tell us as as soon as possible. Within minutes the landline rang.
Jay had been delayed in getting to our house and when she arrived Kelly had gone. Kelly is a very nice woman but she spends more time concentrating on a constant supply of desinfectant and rubber gloves than lubricating thought process mechanisms. Being a brush short of a broom cupboard, she had left the door locked and shoved the key back in through the letterbox; Millie inside. As well as Jay’s key. The normal arrangement in such cases is for the person leaving to put the key into a hiding place known to all and sundry for the next person. We are nothing if not trusting.
Jay tried all doors; all were locked except for the small, integral, garage door, which leads into the house via another (locked) door. This internal door was the first one she tried to force. No luck. Ditto the front and back doors; the conservatory doors were open but the inner glass doors were locked. No luck.
Through the letter box Jay could see Kelly’s key on the mat. She went into the village and borrowed a couple of magnets on a stick, a kind of fishing rod for keys. No luck. Jay is not very strong but she has a friend who is. Jay fetched Linda and took her to the up-and-over garage door to see if Linda could push the inner door open. Linda walked straight into the not-quite-fully-open garage door, hitting her forehead on the metal edge, and briefly knocking herself out. Head wounds bleed profusely, Linda went straight to the surgery where the gash in her forehead was cleaned and glued back together. After that she decided Millie would have to chance her luck without her.
Jay hadn’t given up yet, she went to fetch more help, a man this time. A chap’s brute force might succeed where a woman’s feeble efforts had failed. Robyn tried his best, using burglar’s tools on keyholes, but short of actually causing damage he saw no way of getting in.
Poor Jay was in despair. “ I need a magic wand”, she wailed. Angry and frustrated, cursing Kelly, and worried about Millie, who had been locked in for hours, she grabbed hold of the handle to the front door and rattled it as hard as she could.
And the door sprang open!
Perhaps Robyn’s efforts had dislodged the lock, perhaps the combined heaving and pushing had had some effect; whatever the cause, the door opened as freely as a bank’s door when a rich man enters.
So Millie had her walk - albeit a short one - and her dinner after all.
Things rarely work out the way you plan them but All’s Well That Ends Well. We also now have a specific lock in the house which appears to be badly bent out of shape.
“But other than that, Mrs. Friko, how did you like the play?” “Not bad, not bad at all, thank you for asking."