It’s cold outside

You’re gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul
Christina Perri — Jar of Hearts

I bet at four o’clock this morning you weren’t in a police station.

Or, at least, if you were I bet you were drunk and I bet it wasn’t voluntary.

After the usual Friday night poor showing from my local pub (people who follow me on twitter will be aware that the torture of watching a hundred people think they’re affirming their lives by singing Mr Brightside at the top of their voices is a regular part of my balanced weekly diet), I walked home, on a cold and cloudless night. I live about ten minutes walk from town, so the walk’s no hardship, except that I was dressed in shirt and no coat and it was, as mentioned, cold.

I need to be clear about this. Ten degrees below zero, Celsius, is seriously chilly when you’re standing in it in shirt-sleeves. I’m sure people in actually cold places like Canada or Minneapolis or Refrigeration, North Dakota will be laughing mockingly at this point, but firstly, bugger off, secondly I bet you lot bother to put a coat on when you go out, thirdly it’s not two in the morning for you, and fourthly bugger off.

Anyway, I get home and… no door key in my pocket.

You know that feeling when the Fist of Fear grabs your balls when you realise something disastrous has happened? (I don’t know what the Fist grabs for women. Feel free to fill me in, or actually maybe not.) Anyway: yeah, that. I went through the usual search-all-pockets-and-then-search-them-all-again routine, just in case a mischievous cold-tolerant leprechaun hid my key from the first search and then put it back, and… no door key. Oh dear.

I’ll tell you this; the walk back to the pub again seems a much longer trek. Nowhere near as long as the second return to the house without my key, though, after it turned out no-one had handed it in. And now, what the hell to do, eh? I’m not prescient enough to hide a key in the garden, especially since that’s a damned good way to come home one night and find no television where a television used to be, so… locksmith? Do they have 24-hour locksmiths? I can’t be the first moron to have done this.

If you’re bored today, I have a suggestion for you. Go and find a dude who claims to be a 24-hour locksmith and punch him in his stupid lying face.

Incidentally, how in Jah’s name did anyone manage in this situation five years ago without a smartphone, huh?

Not that the internet helps when no-one frigging answers their supposedly-24-hour phone. Also, it turns out that about four of the local 24-hour locksmith companies are actually the same company, who did answer their phone, agreed to send someone, and then after an hour of me standing in the freezing bloody freezing cold confessed that they didn’t actually have anyone to send.

It’s now half three in the morning, and the shivering is starting to get on my nerves, and I can’t get into my house without destroying something like a double-glazed plate glass window which will cost me hundreds of pounds to fix and my hands are shaking enough that I can barely light a cigarette, let alone throw a brick through a door that probably wouldn’t break anyway, and I’d like to avoid the police showing up since I have no way of proving that I actually live here except for being able to describe where all the broken bits of skirting-board are, and everywhere is closed and the doors are all locked and it’s really spectacularly bone-shudderingly mightily arse-clenchingly ridiculously psychopathically cold, and what to do? I tried sleeping in the shed. Now, cold is not like wind. Being inside a thin empty wooden building does not protect you from it. I was shivering like a jackhammer on a bouncy castle and it was becoming clear, even in my not-very-operational brain state, that lying on the floor at minus ten with only a shirt on could quite possibly lead to me actually freezing to death for real.

Well, if the police came, either I’d get into the house or they’d arrest me, and being arrested would at least make me warm, and right now I’d cut my right hand off if Pol Pot showed up as long as he brought a pair of gloves and some soup.

And then, through the frozen and frosty neurons came the sparkling thought that the police station would be open, wouldn’t it?

I actually felt warmer just at the thought. Not much warmer, though.

Anyway, that’s how I came to be sitting in the cop shop voluntarily at four am. One lovely copper even made me a cup of tea after I poured out my tale of woe in one long sentence, breaking only for my teeth to chatter together like I was trying to bite through the world.

Police stations: while I appreciate that you’re generally there to deal with miscreants and so on, it wouldn’t kill you to get rid of two screwed-to-the-ground plastic chairs and put in, say, a chaise longue. After switching my phone to airplane mode I managed to eke out enough battery life that I could sit and read while huddled up against the radiator for five hours until nine o’clock this morning, whereupon I went and fetched the spare key from my estate agent after the longest and coldest and most sleepless night I have ever experienced.

So, tips, for surviving a similar situation.

  1. Have a spare key. Note: I do not have a spare key hidden in my garden, burglars, so don’t go looking for it. I do not know how to have a spare key somewhere where you can get at it but thieves cannot; suggestions welcomed.
  2. Have a girlfriend so that there’s someone to let you back in.
  3. Next time you see a policeman, be nice to him.

I think I might have a nap now.

I'm currently available for hire, to help you plan, architect, and build new systems, and for technical writing and articles. You can take a look at some projects I've worked on and some of my writing. If you'd like to talk about your upcoming project, do get in touch.

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