Now that we live in Central London I have bought a Smart car from friends who are going to America. This seems sensible for many reasons – no road tax, 100% exemption from the congestion charge and, perhaps above all, more practical than my Mercedes SLK which was delightful, but silly. It is also a classic example of downsizing – from 3,500cc to 799cc.

So, until today, I was pleased with my little Smart car and no doubt will be again when I have forgiven it for the cheeky trick it played on me.

I drove, uneventfully, to Henley-on-Thames to play croquet. I parked the car and sat on the boot lid (conveniently it opens downwards) to change my shoes. Having done that, I closed the boot and, to my horror, found the car had locked itself with the key inside.

A new experience; I have never locked myself out of a car before.

My croquet playing friends were sympathetic and offered the following suggestions for solving the problem.

1  Phone my wife and ask her to come on a train with the spare key. Two snags (a) I couldn’t remember her mobile number (it is on my iPhone but, of course, that was locked in the car along with everything else) and (b) she has a fractured vertebra at present and a needless train journey was not advisable.

2  Phone Smart cars in Reading and ask them to send someone with a bunch of spare keys to open the car. The man I spoke to explained that since it was a Saturday they only had two mechanics on duty, both of whom were fully occupied. No one was be able to come. He put me through to Smart cars in Ascot but that man explained that the only way they could open the car would be to smash a window! I said that I could do that perfectly well myself without paying someone else to do it.

3  Phone the AA and ask if I could join on the spot and, having done so, please be rescued.

4  Borrow some money (I need hardly explain that my money, credit cards etc were safely locked up in the car) and travel back to London by train, collect the spare key and travel back again by train.

I weighed up the options whilst playing a match with a borrowed mallet (mine was locked up in the boot), with the wrong specs (guess where the proper ones were?) and with no water proofs (yes, you have worked out where they were!) despite a number of heavy rain showers.

After reflection, I decided to spend the afternoon actioning option 4.

A kind friend drove me to Reading rail station. Contrary to a widespread popular misconception that croquet is a vicious, mean game and that croquet players must therefore be vicious and mean to play it, croquet players are delightful, helpful people. Indeed, one of them had even offered to drive me into London and back again – a round trip of 80 miles – but I couldn’t bring myself to accept such generousity.

I brought a return ticket with the £20 I had borrowed and, after a couple of hours, was back in the flat looking up times for the return journey. I was relieved to see if I left immediately for Paddington I could get a connection to Henley.

So, I left the flat in a hurry and reached the elevators (we are on the seventh floor) before realising that I had forgotten to pick up the spare key!

Yes, that’s right, I was going all the way back to Henley WITHOUT the spare key which would, of course, defeat the object of the exercise.

Don’t you think it is brave of me to admit to such stupidity?


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