|me and my cousin|
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.