‘Oh, what a big bunch of keys.’ I’ve lost track of how many times people have said this to me, and it is true, I do carry a very large bunch about, including one or two keys which are strictly redundant, e.g. the key to the office at University College, Falmouth. It isn’t that I will never work there again – who knows, I might – it’s just that the door had its locks changed three years ago. Nevertheless, the key has a useful bulk, and for me a bunch of keys is not just a collection of useful keys, but something I will hear if it drops with a loud clatter. That way I reduce the chance of losing them. Not that I am infallible in this respect. I lost my entire bunch at the Open University, and had to go, worried, to see Security. He wrote down all the details. Did I have a phone number? he asked. But I can’t ever remember the number of my mobile, so I reached into my bag, and drew out – you guessed it – my bunch of keys. He was very polite, but you could see the word tattooed across his eyeballs: ACA-BLOODY-DEMICS. (That’s what I am, by the way, an aca-bloody-demic. I am still getting used to the term, after the years in further education where I was, pointlessly, a ‘lecturer’. I never gave lectures. I taught. ‘Lecturer’ was a pointless piece of snobbery which came from merging a higher education union with a further education union in 1973 or so. The FE teachers liked the sound of ‘lecturers’. To this day, students in FE go, not to classes, but to lectures. Silly. Mind you, as an aca-bloody-demic, I am also a lecturer. Except that they don’t say it like that. They don’t say ‘Bill is a Lecturer in Creative Writing’. They say, ‘Bill is Lecturer in Creative Writing.’ Why? It’s poor English, if you ask me.)

Anyway: keys. As I say, I use bunches as weight and freight. Their superiority in numbers adds safety to them. I have key fobs and stuff hanging off the bunch as well. But when people come up with this ‘That’s a big bunch, Bill’ line, what they do not realise is that I am carrying Bunch A, and that, at home, I have Bunches B and C, which are much, much bigger, and contain all kinds of interesting relics.

I am warming to my theme, I can feel it. More on keys tomorrow.


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