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April 6, 2013

I have a problem with keys, I keep losing them. One minute a key is in my hand and the next it has gone for ever. I remember the terrible consequence of losing keys, too.

The first time I lost a key I was about thirteen. We had ponies and kept them at a farm where the buildings were kept locked. You had to go to the caravan in which the family lived (it was pretty primitive) to collect the key. There was snow on the ground and after I had locked up I lost the key. How I lost it I don’t know, whether I had a number of things in my hand and it slipped through my cold fingers, I can’t remember, but it had gone. My sister and I searched in the snow but we couldn’t find it. I went and told the farmer and he was furious. He came out and kept on about how he was going to have to change all the locks. Quite why he needed to do this when the key was probably lost for ever, I don’t know. What I did know was how angry he was and I remember crying and crying because he just kept going on and on. The consequence of losing keys is not pleasant.

The next time I lost a key I was a student in Bradford. I had the key to the front door of a house in which I had a room. It was the back bedroom of a house near to where the Yorkshire Ripper lived, but I didn’t know that at the time of course, otherwise I might have kept more normal hours. It was a freezing room with a small gas fire, a gas cooker, shielded by a screen, and a bed. Spartan, to say the least. You huddled over the gas fire for a little warmth because a foot away there was no heat whatsoever, you could see your breath in the air. The landlady was terrifying. She lived with her mother who was less terrifying, but somehow they knew everything you did. You were allowed the immersion heater on for 20 minutes to heat the bath water and they would switch it off if you went over that time. Needless to say the bath water was tepid. Anyway, the day I lost the key I was in Bradford centre and had gone into a phone box to make a call. I had my purse with the key in it, put it down, went round the corner and realised I hadn’t got my purse. I quickly went back but the purse had gone. I couldn’t believe it, I hadn’t gone more than 5 steps. I was absolutely petrified but remembered that they kept a spare under the flower pot in the porch. If I could borrow that and get another recut without them knowing I wouldn’t had to own up. I waited until they were out, borrowed the key, had another cut and put the spare back. The next time I came in the landlady opened the door before I could get the key in the lock. ‘Did you lose your key?’ How on earth she knew I had borrowed the spare I will never know. That woman would have made a good spy.

So I know about the consequences of losing keys and it makes me wonder what the circumstances were in which people lost themScreen Shot 2013-04-06 at 08.47.22 Take this key from 1500. It is a bronze casket key found by a metal detectorist in the Parish of Worfield and Rudge. It makes me think, firstly that keys haven’t really changed in design over the years, but more significantly for me, who did it belong to? At this time carrying anything around the country would have been dangerous. Were they waylaid by robbers, the casket stolen and the key lost in the melee or was the key simply lost in the undergrowth? A nice find which one can relate to.

The next find is much more peculiar in design. Clumsy it certainly is and yet there were two finds in the area mentioned above. Was the design locally fashionable? Who knows but the watch would then be unusable I assume .


Sometimes keys are nice because they have a manufacturer’s or retailer’s name on them. In the example below it says, Watchmaker and Jeweller on the one side and Langman’s Wolverhampton, on the other.

Screen Shot 2013-04-06 at 09.06.08

Gradually over the years I have got better at looking after my keys – not perfect, but improving.


From → website

One Comment
  1. supernova permalink

    Yes one can imagine the casket being a prime target, I wonder what was in it, too! regards James 🙂

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