Rebecca Tyrrel: Days Like Those

'There's a locksmith in the house and Matthew won't tell me what he's doing here. I'm worried'
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The Independent Online

A handsome locksmith called Gary arrived at the front door, which was a surprise. We haven't been burgled this week and Matthew has recently come up with the revolutionary idea of not leaving his keys in the door after he has let himself in. But Gary told me that the gentleman who had phoned his office half an hour ago had told him it was an emergency.

I insisted firmly and quite brusquely that there were no emergencies on the lock front, thank you, and was about to close the door when Gary said: "Are you sure, love? Because the gentleman told me it was a dire and most grievous situation." So I directed him to the shed at the bottom of the garden where Matthew plays internet poker, watches sport and, if ever the need should arise, does some work. I imagine the dire and most grievous situation will have something to do with the World Cup but it would be far too tedious, and possibly futile, to dwell on what the connection could possibly be.

Coincidentally, I have called out a carpenter in connection with not just the World Cup but other exciting football fixtures. I need some doors mended: the broom-cupboard door that was pulled off its hinges eight years ago when England lost to Argentina on penalties and the bathroom door that fell victim to a shoulder charge during a European game against Romania. Matthew apparently mistook it for someone called Philip Neville whom he wished to punish for "wilful and insane stupidity".

I had been meaning to erect little plaques giving the date and the match alongside the damaged portals but never got round to it and now, as we launch ourselves into the 2006 World Cup, seemed like a good time to get a repair estimate, taking in any damage likely to occur during the next few weeks.

"Is your husband a very violent man?" asked the carpenter sympathetically as I took him on the tour of damage - he had just pointed out a crack in the sitting room door that I had forgotten about, so long ago was it inflicted on account of a "ponytailed ponce" called Seaman.

"Certainly not," I said in an affronted voice. In fact I am the one behind the only act of person-to-person violence in our marriage. I threw a bottle of Czech beer into the back of Matthew's neck after having my attempts at making carrots in honey and lemon juice belittled.

Matthew and Gary the locksmith came in from the shed and walked through the kitchen and on up the stairs. They both looked extremely furtive. If I were a jealous or suspicious type I would have followed them, but I was too busy concocting a honey-and-lemon-juice skin-refresher. Carrots had just occurred to me as a possible addition. Gary left insisting most vehemently that he would be returning in a day or two.

Before Matthew could escape back to the shed, I asked him why he had called out a locksmith. He didn't answer me. He just looked miserable and shook his head with half-closed eyes. This is a new expression. I haven't seen it before and I have absolutely no idea what it means. So I had no alternative but to press on with my enquiries.

"Does it have anything to do with the World Cup?"

"Might do," said Matthew.

"Is the locksmith here to ensure that somebody, probably me, cannot enter or, perhaps exit through certain doors during the next fortnight?"

"Possibly," said Matthew.

"Am I going to be locked out during key matches?"

"Sort of," said Matthew.

"Am I going to be restrained in some way during any match with England in it?"

"You might be," said Matthew.

"What do you mean, I might be?" I asked in a quavering voice. "When will you decide? And what will it depend on - the weather, or your mood or the size of Victoria Beckham's bunion? And most of all, why on Earth would you do this to me?"

Actually, I know perfectly well what Matthew's motives are. He thinks I am a jinx during football matches with England in them. The football-jinx idea has fixed in his mind because I only ever watch during important matches with England in them and even then I only ever appear at crucial moments - moments in fact when they are about to lose, usually on penalties.

"You are to be incarcerated in the bedroom," sighed Matthew, "But only if England go to penalties."

I'm going to spend the next couple of days applying false nails that I shall paint green, and chip, and perfecting my "mad woman in the attic" wails.