Sunday, 1 January 2012

Story Telling Sunday - Checking it Twice

I am changing the names to protect the innocent here, and this is a summer story but it is the one that has been clog dancing in my mind for a week so here we go.

me and my cousin
When I was a teenager I went on holiday with my Aunty Mary, Uncle Bill and cousins Eve, May and Charlie. It happened a lot in our family - I am an only child in a huge family of cousins - "company for the girls" was how Aunty Mary put it. This was a posh holiday in a caravan not like with Mum and Dad in a tent!
There was a ritual that Aunty Mary used to go through every time she left the house. She would lock the door, walk down the steps to the pavement and then go back up the steps, unlock the door and just check that the gas stove was totally turned off. Then she would lock the door, go down the steps, go back up the steps and tug on the letterbox (In the UK most letterboxes are actually in the front door) to ensure the door was shut before reluctantly leaving to go shopping. These days we would mutter things about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder but then we just put it down to her being a worrier.
Going on holiday for two weeks brought its own fears and so the ritual was extended to include windows and water and electricity, because heaven forbid that the electricity should leak while we were away!
We four children - ages 16, 15, 15, and 10 are squashed into the back of the car amongst the soft luggage, watching this intricate dance unfold. Aunty Mary is in the passenger seat and she is giving instructions to Uncle Bill
"Just nip sharply up and check the water is turned off, Bill."
To do this he has to go up the steps, unlock the front door, go through the house to the kitchen where he must get down on his knees and retrieve the back door key from its hiding place. Next he must unlock the cupboard in the hall and get the key to the coal-house. Then he must unlock the back door, unlock the coal house, get the key to the outside lavatory, unlock the lavatory door and check that the stop tap is turned off.
Next he re-locks the lavatory door, puts the key in the secret place in the coal-house, locks the coal-house brings the key in and puts it in the cupboard in the hall. Then he locks the back door, checks the gas stove because he knows she will ask, checks the windows for the same reason, hides the back door key, comes out through the front door, shuts it firmly and puts his hand through the letter box and tugs the door a couple of time to make sure.
Still with me? good, we were bored. We had watched the original ritual and this was a second run through for Uncle Bill so time was pressing and we were eager to see our caravan home.
"Oh Bill, you'd better check the gas stove!"
"I've done that," he sighed, waiting to see what else she would think of.
"Oh, and the windows"
"Yes, done that"
"The electric?" Now Uncle Bill could never lie to aunty Mary, he did try and it was the slight hesitation that gave him away. She pounced!
"Just get in there and check the electric and while you're there do the windows upstairs"
Uncle Bill sighed, unlocked the door and disappeared. He had to go through the same ritual again because the electricity meter was in the outside toilet. He was gone a while before we saw him checking all the front windows.
He came out through the door and was so obviously at the end of his patience because he grabbed the letter box and slammed the front door really hard.
And that's when the letterbox came off in his hand.
There was a further delay because, of course, it had to be fixed because burglars would "get in through that great hole"
This story has been brought to you through the Storytelling Sunday project begun by Sian at fromhighinthesky  Please visit her blog and take the time to read the other wonderful sotries gathered for our entertainment. Thank you for reading my story.


Mary B said...

Oh dear that was taking it to the extremes but so funny in hind sight isn't it.

Scattychick said...

My dad was always the same and unfortunately has passed it to me I must check things are off or locked about 4 times before leaving a house lol :)

Anonymous said...

This story reminds me so much of my aunt, thank you for sharing.

Sian said...

lol! I was laughing by the time I got to "Good, we were bored", so by the time I got to "that's when the letterbox.." I was in stitches. A great story - all the funnier because I have a friend who would almost go to the same extremes.

A Happy New Year to you and yours and thanks for joining in again this year!

Jane said...

lol and I thought I was bad. Happy New Year xx

Miss Smith said...

This is hilarious! I think everyone knows someone who's a bit like that, but this is totally fantastic. A brilliant story.

Happy New Year!

beccaf1970 said...

Thanks for sharing and giving me a good chuckle this morning!

debs14 said...

Oh dear, I sense a little bit of that in me! I can't rest if there is a slight doubt in my mind. When the children were young I used to jot down a list of things to check before we left to go on holiday and tick them off as I did them. Then if I had a niggle of a worry when we were on our way I just had to check the list!

K said...

That sooooo reminds me of my Mom, but add on to it the
Mom: Did I lock the front door?
Me: yes
Mom: did i check it?
Me: yes
Mom: Did you see where I put the key?
Me: yes, in your bag
Mom: We better go check, just in case
All this was said while walking to the shops/school/etc so we'd have to go back, just to check.

Irene said...

It's a wonder you ever got away on holiday! Thank you for this story, gave me an enormous smile on a dark, wet afternoon.
Happy New Year!

Unknown said...

Oh that's brilliant, what a palaver!

Happy New Year.

Missus Wookie said...

Ah I recognise a relative with this fascination for checking... hope the holiday was worth it once you got away!

Alana said...

Ha ha, this made me laugh. Although i am not quite so bad as that I often get down the street and wonder if i locked the door. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Ruth said...

A funny story that so many of us can recognise! Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

LOL - you had me at the bored part but the mailbox just did me in. We're always going through a verbal checklist as we're driving away - the first thing after "did you lock the door" is usually "is the stove off"

Beverly said...

ohmygoodness, Uncle Bill was a saint! I can imagine how impatient you children felt with the excitement of the caravan ahead of you :)

Deb @ PaperTurtle said...

Hahaha - this is a cute story. Reminds me of how my step-dad checks their house before leaving for any kind of vacation. Better safe than sorry, I suppose. :o)

Cheri said...

my husband is like that. Once we are all in the car, he gets back out to make sure the toilet has stopped running! Funny story.

Miriam said...

Great story, beautifully told and yes I know someone a bit like this ;)

Fiona@Staring at the Sea said...

That's so funny! I'll bet everyone reading your tale knows somebody like that, or can recognise though traits in themselves! Brilliantly told.
Fiona xx

Unknown said...

LOL. That was so funny. I could just picture it happening and playing out. I am married to someone only a little like that. But in winter when I get home late from the shop the first question he asks is "Did you turn off the heater?". Now I turn off the heater out of habit and don't always remember turning it off later on. So now I unplug it from the wall in annoyance as I know he is going to ask. Now my standard answer is "It must be because I unplugged it just to make sure!" LOL

Amy said...

What a funny story! We have the same rituals in our house only with the iron and the tumble dryer. I'll tell my Mum she's not alone :p Happy New Year!