A view backstage at Beverley Minster

What’s that bulge in my pockets?

Neil Pickford delves deeply
I was alone on a silent morning in a deserted Minster when I felt something long, cold and sharp press into my thigh and bite cruelly into my flesh.
My mind flashed – I knew that feeling. Drat, I thought, my keys have worn a hole in my pocket – again – and I glumly contemplated getting out a needle and cotton to stitch it up -again. And then a rather momentous thought struck me: why didn’t I do something to stop the problem happening in the future?
I suspect this liberating brainwave follows on from my little polemic t’other week when I was banging on about how things constantly evolve and nothing lasts forever. After composing what might have been read as a diatribe against people who cannot change I suspect my subconscious must have been nagging me and saying: “OK, Big Mouth. How large is the plank in your eye?”
(This quotation references one of Jesus’ morality tales that recommends people should look at their own faults before criticising others – a good idea that many of us, especially me, might follow. If you’re interested you can find it in Matthew 7:3-5. But I digress.)
As always in life, once I’d launched on a particular line of thinking it didn’t take me too long to veer off at a tangent but this had a positive outcome. Irritated by the awkward feeling as my keys started another slow and cringe-making slither down my left leg I decided to look with fresh eyes at the keys themselves, and see if changes could be introduced.
I pulled two huge collections of angular lumps out of my trousers and studied them carefully.  Hmmmm.
A few of them were, obviously, very necessary. There was the key that unlocks the small wicket gate in our Highgate door. As this is the main entrance for most of our visitors you’d be disappointed if I told you it was a simple Yale lock – so don’t be. It’s a venerable monster, some seven inches long, which turns a lock that has maintained our security for several hundred years or so.
Another giant is used to open the door at the start of the roof tours and newcomers are always impressed when I wave it around (stop sniggering at the back, please). Normally, however, we keep that in a box.
There is a cluster of four keys that are used in the vicar’s vestry: here is another group of four that I need for the parish hall complex and two more are required to get in to the Parish Office.
But what were the rest of them for? There was a little clutch that I can easily dump because they open doors in the shop – and I never open doors in the shop. No point in lugging them around each and every day, is there?  There are also seven for the money-boxes – but we’ve only got five of those and three of them share one key. Then there are another 11 that I can’t remember ever using since I started working at the Minster.
It’s ridiculous: I’ve been carrying these blinking things around, pointlessly, for more than five years now. So I’ve unclipped them and put them in a box until I can find if they belong to anything useful, or if the locks even exist anymore.
Then I weighed the box and I discovered that I had discarded exactly 14 pounds, which is a significant Imperial weight, if you remember those things.
And this would, if this was a major news story, possibly lead to the following otherwise incomprehensible headline: “Keys – Stone Cropped” (Try reading it quickly.)
Hahahahahahahaha – sorry

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