At Hexham races recently, both of our horses (Riguez Dancer and Only The Best) finished second. "Hard luck, today David" commented the cheerful man on the gate as I left after the fifth race.
I knew what he meant but actually, I didn't feel unlucky. Both horses had run good races and showed plenty of promise for the future. I was feeling satisfied that we have some good times ahead.
By now I had reached the car and this was when my luck (and mood!) did change. Having failed to locate my car keys in pockets one, two and three, I tried number four in a more desperate manner.
Then I checked my bag, then each pocket in turn again and pretty soon I was doing the"lost keys dance". You know the one; rapid double hand patting of thighs, bum, chest desperately hoping to feel a metallic lump in your clothing – Nothing.
I checked my binoculars case umpteen times but then had to concede that my keys were not there. At this point, I noticed the dog looking at me in a rather strange way.
She had just woken up after spending a couple of hours in the boot of my estate car recovering from the three and a half laps of Hexham that we had covered earlier. "Ok Sparky, don't worry I just need to go back on course and find my keys".
I alerted security and checked behind the bars and at the main office. I didn't get the keys but I did collect lots of advice and words of wisdom;
"Thing is, on this soft ground they will have been trodden in" and "you won't find them"
"Are you walking home then?"
"Cost me £200 to replace mine!"
I explained that I HAD lost the keys and not, as he thought, simply locked them in the car. At this point, the 4th Emergency Service became some what less useful...in fact they became as much use as the Trumpton Fire Brigade. "Driver error, sir....we can give you the number of a locksmith but that's it".
I had left the window slightly open and managed to flick the lock on the door with a long stick. I was in the car! Sparky was out of the car and "relieved" but I still had a problem. No keys, no chance of starting the car.
I called the auto locksmith that the Trumpton boys had recommended. "Sorry Sir, we don't cover Hexham....that's nearly in Scotland!" Plan C had at least been speedy from conception to death.
Finally, I got one who was helpful. If I could give him the key code he would get me a key and the electronic bit needed to immobilise the immobiliser! Good man. He even told me where to find the key code..."Its on a credit card sized piece of paper in the front cover of your handbook".
It was with a sense of certainty that I reached for the handbook". I was certain that the card would not be there. It wasn't. Plan D was not dead though! It was still "only" 5.30 and so I could call the garage where I got the car and they would have it on their system. Genius!
"We can't just release that detail without security checks...you will have to come in" The desperation must have been evident in my voice by now. "Ok then" the Vauxhall man conceded "I will see what I can do".
He went away for a few minutes and then returned. "Leon (the salesman that sold me the car) remembers you. If you can tell me what you do for a living, he will know its you and I can give you the code."
Now I sometimes tell people what I do for a living but sometimes it's easier to just say "management". What had I told Leon? I figured that he wouldn't particularly remember "management" so I must have been truthful! "I syndicate racehorses". Bingo, I had proved my identity and the code was going to be mine!
Sparky was still looking at me oddly. "Strange...said the Vauxhall man...all the other codes are there but yours is not". We'll have to apply for it. "
"Well Sparky, Plan E is not my preferred one but it's all we've got. We will go home on the train, get the spare keys and return tomorrow to get the car.....and stop looking at me like that."
We got there and got the train without incident. About an hour cross country to Carlisle. Once at Carlisle we had a wait of about 40 minutes which we spent wandering around to exercise Sparky.
When we returned to the station and got on the Virgin Train for Crewe she sat bolt upright and stared at me. "I know, but its not my fault!". Well, I suppose it is I thought but there's nothing we can do. Anyway, we are on the fast train now and we should be back by 10ish.
As the train pulled away from Carlisle, I made myself comfortable for the longer, but last leg of my journey home. I took my coat off and as I did so I felt the unmistakeable feeling of a set of car keys!
Surely not!! I have often heard people say "I didn't know whether to laugh or cry" and thought it was a stupid expression. Now though, I was in exactly that situation...I almost didn't want to have found the keys!
My coat is a ski jacket and has many pockets, including one in the sleeve. That's where I had put them. An area not covered by the lost keys dance and not one that I had checked....though given that when I wear that coatI
I ALWAYS put my keys in that pocket I cannot fully explain why I had seemingly forgotten about its existence.
Having established that (as by now I was fully expecting) it was impossible to get off the train and turn around because I would miss the last cross country train from Carlisle to Hexham I settled down to enjoy the rest of my journey home. Should be fun doing it all again tomorrow I thought!
And so, I am writing this whilst sat on the train on my way back up North to get my car. No dog with me this time. She is at home enjoying herself. I knew that she was looking at me oddly. If I had read any of those "know your dog" books I may even have been able to realise what the look meant:
"Pocket, stupid, look in your damn sleeve pocket!"
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