COLUMN: November 22, 2018

The worst idea in the history of ideas

WHENEVER I search through my pockets for one key or another, people always suggest that I put all my keys on a keyring. I have no idea why they do this. Do they think that I have somehow managed to reach my mid-forties without having ever heard of keyrings?

As it happens, the first thing I ever made in CDT was a keyring. Admittedly, it was also the last thing I ever made in CDT. It became quickly apparent to both me and my teacher that my talents lay in other areas, and I look forward to finding out one day where these areas are.

The reason I do not put all my keys on a keyring is the same reason why I opposed the introduction of national identity cards. Yes, it’s a great idea to have a single card which gives me access to all the gifts of the state to which I am entitled, and it would be hugely convenient… right up to the moment at which I lost it. And then I would have to prove my identity to receive a new one, without any proof of identity.

And if I put all my keys on a keyring, I would always know where they were, until I lost all of them at once, probably down a drain or in the throat of a shark or in the setting concrete foundations of a building.

This means I have chosen to run a more or less constant risk of minor inconvenience, rather than a considerably slimmer risk of catastrophic inconvenience, on the basis that what can go wrong inevitably does.

It means I have a routine every day. You see, I am not Dennis The Menace or Donald Duck. I don’t wear the same clothes every day. I have a range of outfits, most, if not all, of which include trousers.

So when I choose my work outfit, I go through the pockets of yesterday’s trousers, retrieve the various keys that I need to get through the day and/or doors, and transfer them into the pockets of today’s trousers.

Often I only remember to do this just before I close my front door. On occasion, I remember to do this just after I close my front door. Those are generally the worst days.

Anyway, I had to go to work earlier than usual, because of a thing I was doing. But I also had to write one of these columns for you, and, I will not lie, it is not always a straightforward process. It might look to you as if I vomit these words onto the page, but sometimes I can spend actual seconds considering the mot juste.

The point is that you would be surprised how long it can take me to write 750 words, and on this occasion I joined you. I had gone over my budgeted time so comprehensively I had roughly seven minutes to shower, dress appropriately, throw down some breakfast, brush my teeth, and get into my car.

I was a cartoon whirlwind. I raced out of my flat, pulled the door, then yelped, and shoved my arm in the rapidly closing gap between the door and frame. Keys!

I ran back in and grabbed yesterday’s trousers, shaking the various keys out of them, like a bully stealing lunch money. One key bounced under my bed. I am too old to drop to the floor at speed, but somehow I managed it without injury.

I raced out of the flat again, jumped into my car, and drove at a legal speed to work, arriving at the car park a satisfying hour early. I reached for my car park pass…

The thing about changing outfits every day is that trousers are not the only variable. My car park pass was in my wallet. And my wallet was in yesterday’s jacket.

“Gah!” I thought. “Oh, well, I’ll just have to go to the NCP car park down the road and take the heavy financial hit.”

But my debit card was in the same wallet. “Cash?” I thought. In the wallet, obviously. Maybe I could withdraw cash? Nope, I needed a debit card for that.

Maybe I could park up and ask a colleague to spot me a tenner? I will leave you to guess where my office passcard was kept.

I drove home and back again, and was half an hour late for work. And this, THIS, is why I don’t have a keyring.

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