Tuesday, 30 March 2010

ABC Wednesday Keys and key rings

It's ABC Wednesday again and our thanks go to the hard-working ABC team whose members, inspired and led by Denise Nesbitt, organise this meme. You know you want to see what others have chosen for K so why not click here?
Recently I wrote about my fascination with stationery – notepaper, pens, pencils, paper clips, drawing pins – in fact, just about anything to do with putting words on paper or putting papers together or on things (so include fridge magnets!) I know my daughters share my enthusiasm – hardly surprising, since their childhood Christmas stockings were stuffed with boxes of pencils, crayons, pens, stickers, unusual post-its. My husband and son are not devotees to the same extent though they both appreciate fine fountain pens. (Ooh, the smell of ink – how wonderful that is!)
There are other things that appeal to me, too, one of which is keys and, by association, key rings. This interest may have arisen in my childhood. When I was five years old my parents bought a shop which sold newspapers, confectionery, tobacco and stationery. We lived in the flat above the shop and the only way into it was through the shop door. There was a back door out to the garden but this was not easily accessible. Anyone wishing to get in that way would have had to climb into the garden of the public house next door and clamber over a brick wall into our garden.
My parents, my father in particular, were very conscious of security and made sure the shop door was securely locked for the night after closing time. Only on one occasion did the nightly check fail and that was the occasion on which my parents woke from a deep sleep to find a beat copper standing at the end of their bed. In those days, police had regular foot patrols around the streets through the night and checked all the locks on business premises. The constable had found the door unlocked and walked through the shop and up two flights of stairs before finding my parents. Thereafter we were all very aware that doors must be checked and double-checked before we could relax.
Eventually I reached an age when I was allowed out on my own and although I wasn't permitted to stay out late there were occasions when I would reach home after the shop had shut. My parents decided I should have a key which I would have to guard very carefully. It was a key at the end of a long shaft and one day, to my horror, it broke as I unlocked the door. Expecting to find myself in trouble I didn't say anything but took it to the local hardware store to see if it could be mended. It couldn't. I had to have a replacement made and that took a few days.
I spent most of my summer holiday at the local outdoor, unheated swimming pool where I met my friends
and would return home at the end of the day when it shut by which time, of course, the shop was also shut. While I waited for the replacement key I made sure I reached home before the door was locked. This was unusual but was not commented on. I realise now that my parents must have known all along what had happened. All the traders knew each other very well and were customers in our shop so it's more than likely that my 'secret' was relayed to my parents long before the new key was safely in my hands. It was never mentioned – very wise, my parents.

In the ensuing years I found keys most interesting. There were tiny keys to safeguard the secrets in private diaries, ornate keys for winding clock mechanisms and jewellery boxes, keys to wind musical boxes or clockwork toys, briefcase and suitcase keys, Allen keys for radiators and bikes and assorted other items and huge mediaeval door keys for churches and manor houses. I liked the idea of a châtelaine as a rather superior housekeeper but I liked the thought of wearing a châtelaine more. (In fact a châtelaine would be a very good idea for Barry but he'd be weighed down by the number of things that would have to be attached to it so we'll continue the daily games of 'find the keys/wallet/pen/remote control/glasses . . . ')
I have never owned a châtelaine but I have had many key rings. Below are photographs of the one I've been using for the last few years.

It's easy to spot!

I was going to give the little leopard key ring to Eve but she was only three then and had no need for keys - so I kept it. I'm sure it was a sign that we would shortly have Ocicats in our home.

These show the front and back of my key ring purse. Susannah gave me this for my birthday. It is just the right size to hold credit cards as well as coins and paper money. You might just be able to see the small bone attached to the end of the chain in the top right-hand corner of the second photograph.
Marie Curie Cancer Care charity shopping trolley token

SSAFA Forces HELP token
door key, Royal Veterinary College token, retractable measure.
Fold-away shopping bag with the Marie Curie logo.
I even have some keys on my key ring!


  1. Interesting to read about your childhood key related stories! I love old keys for their interesting shapes and how they feel.
    I liked the story of the police officer at the end of your parents bed. Twice we have had people ring our bell to give us our keys which Andy left on the outside. Thank goodness for honest people!

  2. Delightful post, Janice. I really liked your telling of the lost key and how you now suspect your parents knew all along.

    About paper, pens, pencils... We share the same, well, you didn't call it an obsession, but I would. :)

  3. I love keyrings too and have quiet a lot, mostly cats (of course), lol !
    I also liked paper and pencils but today I prefer to be creative with the computer and only still paint, but with brushes on canvas !

  4. This was a nostalgic post for me. I, too, was brought up by newsagent parents and lived above the shop. I also remember the Bobbies, never failing to check the door - and with early morning openings, they often came in for a cup of tea.

  5. Sarah: You are fortunate to have honest neighbours and passers-by. I'm pleased to note that Barry isn't the only man to leave his keys in the lock - outside!
    EG Wow: I'm always on the look-out for interesting additions to my collection. You can never have too many, I find;-)
    Gattina: I don't think painting by computer will ever have quite the appeal - or pleasure - of painting with brushes. You can't get the tactile sense and the smell from a pc (yet)
    athony: I don't know if the bobbies ever came in for tea - quite possible, though, given that my father was in the shop at around 4:30 each morning, marking up papers.

  6. That's the first thing I will always find out in a souvenir store cute key rings. Happy Wednesday!

    ABC Wednesday~Keyhole

  7. Collecting key rings from different places is always fun. Thanks for sharing your story and for stopping by my place to leave a note.

  8. Marvelous post as always, Janice! And as always, I love the stories and this time the colorful key rings to go with them! Hope your week is going well!


  9. Ah Manang - a fellow traveller ;-)Lisa and Sylvia - thank you:-)

  10. "With a knick-knack, paddy-whack give your dog a bone." For some reason, your post bounced that out of my head. Strange.

    On behalf of the ABC Wednesday team, thank you!

  11. Yes so collectable, although I do have a bias towards pencils and sharpeners. I remember in a previous job the local office was being closed and we had a ornate metal wall box full of keys hanging on hooks (oh you would have liked that) and a drawer with assorted keys. Must have been about 40 in total. We could not find a single thing they fitted.

  12. A keen story! Keys are endlessly fascinating.

  13. Keys are fascinating things, aren't they? I was thinking about them today, and wishing I had kept one key from each of the houses we've lived in. .. far too late now, of course.

    Love the story about the beat copper and the shop! My grandparents had a shop too, so I can visualise it quite well.

  14. I'm always drawn to keys in antique shops. Your real life adventures with keys was fun to read. A bright girl you were!
    And your photos gave me a bit of insight into your life--all nicely done!

  15. I love the story and all your keyrings too! I have one, and it's hard enough to keep track of that.


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