Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Awesome Key, Bad Lock

Our first night in the UK, I decided it would be a good idea to lock the door for the evening. The door to our apartment is rather old-fashioned, as can be seen by the key that locks it:
A key to make Dickens proud!
The keyhole goes all the way through, so you can use the key on both sides of the door to lock or unlock it. I guess that's why the notches are palindromatic. The door also has a mail slot with metal flaps on the outside and inside, presumably to improve the insulation. We don't expect any mail but the children found it interesting to look through into the apartment. But I digress.

Locking the door from the inside wasn't such a problem. The trouble came the next morning.

We got up at 10 a.m. (which is 5 a.m. back where we came from) and went through as much of a normal morning routine as we could. Lucy and Jacob had cereal while Mommy and Daddy had bagels with cream cheese (I'll write another post about the scones and clotted cream later). We dressed and got ready to meet our sponsors at 11. They would take my wife to work for a few hours to get her access cards and to complete some preliminary paperwork.

When we heard the knocking on the door, we came to answer it. Forgetting that we had locked it, we tried the handle without success. Then I got the lovely key and put it in the lock and turned it. Well, tried to turn it. It wouldn't quite go clockwise. So I tried counter-clockwise. That didn't work either. So I tried with more force one way, then the other. The lock stayed locked. I tried jiggling and jaggling; inserting the key only part way; inserting it as far as possible. The only thing I didn't try was WD-40, only because we didn't have any.

Then we had the brilliant idea to pass the key through the mail slot to the sponsor, who was rather amused at this point. Then she tried from her side of the door. She also tried rotating it left and right, back and forth, with no positive results.

I started thinking about window access to the outside. We are in an upstairs apartment and our door is on a small outdoors landing. Not a good plan. I would say I thought about tossing Lucy and/or Jacob from the bathroom window onto the landing, but surely such a statement would bring Child Protective Services breathing down our necks. Or it would, if its agents could get through our door. But I digress again.

Finally, our sponsor passed the key back inside. My wife tried a few times. We were almost desperate enough to let Jacob and Lucy try. I tried one more time and it finally opened. I have no idea what I did differently, but my wife rushed out the door and spent more than a few hours at work.

The kids and I went for a walk later (to a playground, which I will also blog about later), bravely locking the door behind us. We had a fun time, so much so that Jacob did not want to come back to the apartment. I don't know if it's because he loved the playground so much or he was afraid of our crazy door lock.

We did make it back in and still have trouble with the lock. I maintain the habit of locking our door at night. We just need to plan some extra time in the morning for getting through the door.


  1. We just need to plan some extra time in the morning for getting through the door.

    And if there is a fire.

  2. Whoops, didn't think of that. I will have to get some extra practice in. My wife was able to open it in one try from the outside today, which was a major milestone for us!