Victoria's Week: The key question

The 10.08 to Liverpool Street station must have been somewhere between Colchester and Chelmsford when Mr H phoned me. Had I, he wanted to know, by any chance left my car keys back at work in Ipswich.

The 10.08 to Liverpool Street station must have been somewhere between Colchester and Chelmsford when Mr H phoned me. Had I, he wanted to know, by any chance left my car keys back at work in Ipswich.

Now why would I have done that? But he sounded a tinge tense so I bit back any idea of coming in with the sparkling repartee and wit and just kept it down to a very cautious “why?”

It was bad. He'd just found himself the other side of Stowmarket about to go about his business and had seconds ago managed to lock his keys inside his Fort Knox triple security coded, alarmed and dangerous car. Worse to come, his briefcase was left in plain view at a jauntily open angle, plus his jacket was still hanging on the back of the driver's seat and, of course all his credit cards and wallet were secreted inside that.

Basically he was stuffed.


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The first thing I said was for goodness' sake NOT to smash the back window. That was the preferred option the last time he did this, which was about ten years ago when he'd left his car, funnily enough in a station car park, and returned only to find he'd managed locked those keys inside as well. That cost a fortune and we spent about the next six months picking up stray bits of glass; it's not to be recommended.

At this point you could see everyone else in my carriage cocking their ears. We'd got a mini drama going on, on the 10.08, we had. Much like a police negotiator trying to talk someone down from a roof, I managed to keep his hands off any nearby lumps of concrete and get him to start the long walk back to Ipswich. He was rescued by his PA and then had to wait six hours for me to go about my business in London, return home, pick him up and drive him back out to the other side of Stowmarket with my set of his car keys.

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The last bend was the worst. But then his thin lips cracked into a smile, his wallet/car/briefcase etc. etc were all there un-raced and un-rallied. But it was a tense day, I can tell you.

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