22 July, 2006

Inside view

Today hasn't quite gone to plan, thanks mainly to me finding myself, at around 12.30pm, trapped in my own flat. Not locked out, but trapped in.

When I went to go out just before lunch I found I couldn't open the front door. Both of the locks worked fine, I could feel the hinges trying to swing, but the door itself wouldn't move. It was stuck. I was stuck. And I had no way of immediately altering the situation.

If someone had been on the outside trying to get in - me, for instance - they would have had no problem. They could have simply forced the door open. As I said, both locks were working fine.

As it was, the body of the door was jammed. I had no way of exerting enough force to pull it open, save trying to claw a grip around the edges - which would have worked fine if I had the fingers of a small midget. Not just any old midget, mark you. A small midget.

Of course, not knowing any of my neighbours I couldn't very well shout for assistance; nor could I ring anybody up to come round and help get me out. So instead I had to phone an emergency locksmith and brace myself for the inevitably steep call-out charge and labour costs and VAT and the price of replacement parts and the price of replacing the existing parts with the replacement parts, and so on.

In fact first of all I rang round several local firms to get a quote. One company instantly put me on hold (going down in my estimation straight away) and then forced me to listen to several verses of 'Rescue Me', a song no doubt chosen by someone in a particularly waspish frame of mind but of absolutely no humour value whatsoever when you're stuck having to hear it for a good five minutes or so. Suffice to say I didn't take them up on their offer.

The company I did opt for seemed amiable and responsible enough, and thankfully were round in just over an hour to come to my aid.

It turned out all that had happened was that one of the screws on the opposite edge of the door to the hinges had become so loose it was simply preventing the whole thing from swinging past the frame. Had I been on the outside and pushed the door hard enough it would have opened perfectly, and I would have spotted the problem instantly.

The screw still needed replacing, though, as did a couple of other parts. The Yale lock also needs completely replacing, but that can - and most certainly will - be fixed up for another time. First I've got to confront my landlord with the bill for today's events (£88.13), which I already know is going to prove a right pain in the arse given every time I walk past his office he's never in and every time I've tried ringing him up today he's never answered his phone.

I suspect he's buggered off and some completely different company is now in charge of this flat. It wouldn't be the first time that's happened during my life as a tenant.

Anyhow, at least I can now get out of my flat. Not that I particularly need to go anywhere. In fact I don't need to go anywhere at all, and I don't especially want to either given the fact it's the temperature of a sadistic kiln outside. But it's nice to know I can.

Besides, when it comes doors, it's only ever an open and shut case.


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