The tyranny of things

My dad was a very mild, reasonable bloke who hardly ever lost his temper with people. Things, though, were completely different – in his whimsical days he’d expound on “the malevolence of matter.”I’m exactly the same. I occasionally swear about people, but never at them. On the other hand screws, tools, fiddly little things that won’t go where they’re told or insist on dropping to the floor can easily reduce me to paroxyms of rage.

So, this Christmas, my granddaughter needs my wifi password so she can be connected. I mean, imagine the heartache – Christmas without wi-fi connection. It’s just too grim to contemplate. So I hand over my top secret, one-copy-only piece of card which contains all my e-mail passwords. I know. You’re not supposed to do that, but they keep changing the rules on what a password is supposed to look like, so there’s no other way of keeping track. Granddaughter gets connected, Christmas festivities proceed and I, like a total idiot, fail to immediately reclaim the card and put it back in its totally safe storage place. Family go home, bearing presents, and I can’t find the card. I spend ten days thinking about it, sorting through rubbish, going through other piles of paper into which it might possibly have slipped. Each night I get a brainwave about where it might be, leading to a morning search which is as fruitless as the rest. all the time, whatever I’m doing or trying to think about, there’s this nagging worry that it must be there somewhere, if only…Until today. My brainwave sends me under the dining-room table, which had been extended for Christmas dinner but is now back to its normal modest dimensions. and there, resting on a tray which has got shoved out of the way, is my card. Life is back to normal. I can breathe again, regard the world with an almost calm demeanour. But I really don’t want to go through all that again.