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Did you find the key to my happiness?

Cat James
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I lost a bunch of keys this week. The ancient technology of locks and keys has kept buildings and belongings safe for thousands of years. There’s something satisfyingly simple about this system; it works – until you are careless.

Of course locks can be forced open, and sometimes a key is not even a tangible thing. In one legend of the Arabian Nights, simply uttering, “OPEN SESAME” granted access to a cave full of treasure, cached there by forty thieves.

Busting a digital fortress can be trickier – even when you yourself have set the password. Nowadays we have to remember a combination of CAPITAL and lowercase letters, a number or two, plus a ‘special character’, all of which would result in a modern day Ali Baba expending his three attempts on 0p3nS3s*m3! followed by oPen5e5ame? then Op*N_S3S@M3, before kicking the cavern’s locked rock in frustration, stubbing his curly-slippered toes in the process.

But it’s not only passwords which can protect – or keep us from – valuables. More often it’s our faces or fingerprints which unlock our electronic devices.

I discussed this with a pal, as I grumbled about my lost keys.

He snapped on a latex glove.

“What are you up to?” I asked.

“I’m reviving some old rods.”

“Stewart? Or Steiger?”

“Vintage fishing rods.” he elucidated, waggling a tapered cane at me. He started delicately sanding; clasping the emery paper with that single surgical glove, like a quack Michael Jackson. Quacko Jacko, if you will.

I raised my eyebrows as the scene unfolded.

“So what’s with the one glove, Hand Solo?”

“I’ve learnt the hard way,” he expounded, “that if I use sandpaper without protecting my fingers, then I can’t access my phone’s banking app, cos I’ll have abraded away my identifying fingerprint!”

And so, as surely as the legbone connects with the kneebone, an antique fishing rod must be renovated without damaging unique identifying skin swirls.

I went to see the pomp-rock band Muse on Sunday. I won’t bore you with the seemingly non-existent traffic management system at Milton Keynes Bowl, and the fact that I had to take a little handbag instead of my usual rucksack for tiresome security reasons, but the gig itself was magnificent. The venue is much like any festival site; a grassy amphitheatre, with ancillary fast food wagons, and ubiquitous portaloos. Knowing that these latter amenities can run out of toilet roll, I’d filled my trouser pockets with paper hankies.

The next day, I’d walked up to Ryde in those same slacks; still carrying that tiny clutchbag. Without my backpack and its keychain, I’d stowed the keys in my trousers. By the time I’d journeyed from Appley up to Ryde Cemetery, the keys were gone, clearly having easily fallen out of a pocket still overstuffed with tissues. Cause and effect.

So, if you found a bunch of four keys including a flat grey rectangular plastic fob somewhere in Ryde, then they are mine and I’d be really delighted to have them back. Cheers!

This article first appeared in print in the Isle of Wight County Press on 7 July 2023 and also online.

Photo by Pexels

Cat James

Graphic designer, creative director of Pinkeye Graphics, Isle of Wight County Press columnist, Cat out of Matt and Cat

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