A home of my own. Something I’d worked towards, and it was set to become a reality within 24 hours. My present abode was a sea of boxes, and I was in the process of moving those I could manage down two flights of stairs to the ground floor. We were living in a top floor flat above a disused shop, and the landlord wanted to sell up. With a small cash incentive for vacating the flat added to our savings we were finally about to become homeowners.
As I carried another box downstairs I heard an ominous click behind me. I put down my box and went back upstairs to investigate. Sure enough, the flat door had slipped shut behind me. And my key was upstairs in my handbag. Why hadn’t I put it in my pocket before I started moving boxes? Not only was I locked out, but I was also locked in. The door at ground level needed a key to open it. Another key that was upstairs in my handbag. This was long before the days of mobile phones, but had I possessed one that too would no doubt have been upstairs in my handbag.
Then I remembered someone from the gas board was coming in about an hour to take the final reading. I had visions of a ridiculous conversation being held through the letter box. It was still morning, and my husband wouldn’t be home until after six p.m. A long day sitting on the stairs with my boxes loomed ahead of me. I banged my head on the wall in frustration. I had so much yet to do!
I went back upstairs and stared at the locked door. The flat had been created by boxing in the stairs to separate the upper floor from the rest of the building. I tapped the wall experimentally. It sounded pretty soldid Then I looked more closely at the panel above the door. It looked very much like hardboard. I brought a couple of boxes up from below, climbed up and tapped the panel. Yes, it was hardboard. I went downstairs again and looked around. Ideally what I needed was a hammer, but of course that was outside in the shed. I began searching through boxes and found something that might just do the trick: a metal pole about 18 inches long with a solid metal base. Part of a photography developing kit. I climbed back up on my boxes and bashed away at the panel. Within minutes I was through the hardboard, but there was another panel on the other side. However that didn’t stop me for long. Then all I had to do was widen the hole and climb through. I banged away with my improvised hammer, thinking all the while that I was somehow going to have to put this right before moving out the following day.
Finally I had a hole big enough to wriggle through. I heaved myself up and went through feet first, twisting and resting my middle on the beam at the top of the door. Somehow my jeans got caught on something and I was stuck fast in mid air, half in and half out. My day was just getting better by the minute. I squirmed and writhed, and then with an almighty rip my jeans gave way and I plummeted into the stairwell. I was in! I was a bit winded and the zip on my jeans had broken, but I was otherwise unharmed.
I crawled up the stairs and went in search of my handbag. I just had time to change my jeans and grab my keys before the gas man was ringing on my doorbell.
‘Been burgled?’ he asked, noticing the broken panelling on his way upstairs.
‘It’s a long story,’ I replied. He didn’t ask me to elaborate.
You’ll be pleased to hear that I managed to patch the broken panelling before we moved out by wallpapering over both sides. I wonder if anyone ever realised?
By Karenne Griffin
Last Modified on: 05-11-2015