Tim Key: 'I'm not up to fixing my doorbell. But what if Emma Bunton is downstairs?'


It came to light last night that my doorbell is broke. The man from the Indian takeaway was outside my flat in the pouring rain dinging away for what, he later explained, felt like hours. I was unaware of this, sitting blissfully above him, ogling my telly, my phone on silent, subconsciously thinking (wrongly, it turned out) that my bell worked. But it had failed, and, by the time I looked angrily out of the window, wondering where the hell my food was, I had a wet and angry moped rider and a stone-cold Kabuli Gosht to contend with.

So now I am officially a guy with a broken bell. Well, I say bell. It is – or was – more of a buzzer, like in Seinfeld. Historically, the buzzer would go off and I would have to press a button with an image of a key on it and say "Come on up" in an American voice to let guests in. I liked that system. It's only now that it's gone that I realise how much I relied upon it. Since it bust I am on edge. Crouching in my flat, not knowing whether there is someone outside my building or not.

For all I know there might be a little man from Amazon buzzing away down there, desperately trying to deliver me the Zlatan Ibrahimovic autobiography I am expecting. A friend might have popped round unannounced for a chat and some Jamaican Ginger Cake. There might be a celebrity down there. Your mind plays tricks on you. When my buzzer was working I would never have imagined Emma Bunton coming to visit me. However, now that it's expired, I have a very vivid picture of her stood in a pink fleece and pigtails, plucking up the courage to press the buzzer, me a million miles away, upstairs in my study separated from her by dead wires. It's killing me.

There isn't a way of fixing this buzzer, of course. I've looked at it and pressed it, wiped it with a J Cloth and pressed it again. Nothing. I've never been able to fix anything in my flat. My curtains came off their curtain rings during a skirmish 18 months ago, and I've not been able to reattach them. I just don't have that sort of mind. My head is set up for writing columns and heating up baked beans, not for basic DIY. And anyway, fixing a buzzer feels like it's next-level shit. Electrical things are beyond me. Pressing a button over here and something happening over there just feels nuts to me. It annoys me when I see a radio-controlled plane, say. Everyone just accepts it, but I can't get my head round it. My brother is more tolerant. He wouldn't be scared of this buzzer – he'd be going at it with scissors. Not me. So it will remain broken for now. It's just a question of coping with it.

Once you've ruled out cutting wires and re-tying them, how do you proceed? I'm loathe to open the door and make myself comfortable on the bottom step on the off-chance a postman or Spice Girl comes by. My neighbour has a drill. I could ask her to take the door off its hinges and bin it. Our building would then have a hole, like a cave, and I could leave pebbles and instructions to chuck them at the door of my flat at the top of the stairs. It all seems a bit much. Leaving a vuvuzela on a stool with instructions to hoot it up at my window is anti-social and feels short-termist, too.

The truth of it is, I need the buzzer back on. This, ultimately, will require my father's help. I will file this column and then email my father, or phone the poor sod, or wait for him to read this and phone me. Until then, I am sitting on my doorstep, my back leaning against the door. Drinking homemade lemonade I just bought from Costcutter. I bought a straw, too, and am drinking through that. It's the first time I've bought a straw from a shop. There's no one about.