Locked in: the day the handle broke

Our house has an unfortunate feature to it.

It belonged to a family, before us, who had strange ideas about locks. There were locks on all the bedroom doors, odd seventies locks which were indestructible and had a certain Teutonicย invincibility about them.

When they were locked, they were really locked, and no-one was getting out without a Jemmy and some cracked woodwork.

I have painful memories of my sister’s family all piling over to ours for Sunday tea, and the children getting locked in. There is a door at the top of the stairs which is the entrance to the mini-apartment which is the second floor.

It was this which clicked shut, with Felix and his little princess of a cousin inside, when Felix was about three years old. His cousin entertained him with a puppet show while all hell let loose outside the door: my father the engineer got out all his tools and all the men of the house became serious and collegiate, trying everything from battering rams to jemmies.

Finally, we prised most of the doorway from around it, removed the lock, and – as if we were removing all the spindles in the kingdom – we demolished every lock as finally as we possibly could. It was deadbolt carnage. The black incarceration fairy retreated, disgruntled, to the far reaches of the house to simmer and plot a singular revenge.

That was five years ago.

It has taken a long time for her to regroup forces, but about a week ago I heard her rumbling away. And it would have to be, wouldn’t it, when my son had his friend Freddie round to play.

They fell in through the door after school and charged up the stairs to access Felix’s extensive Lego collection with all speed. About five minutes later I heard thunderous hammering from the third floor.

I assumed it was some boisterous game and smiled indulgently. Fortunately my daughter was not of the same persuasion, and headed upstairs to investigate. From inside the door of Felix’s room they were shouting gleefully: “Help! We’re locked in!”

What larks.

Without fetching me, Maddie worked out that one just had to pull the handle down a very long way to free the boys. It was not a crisis, but a salutary warning that this handle was very much due for changing.

The boys trooped down and told me all about it over tea. The moment the last morsel was consumed, Felix turned to Freddie and said: “What shall we play now?”

With a wicked grin, Freddie replied, “Let’s go upstairs and get locked in again.”

They thundered upstairs with me in hot pursuit.

I finally remembered to mention the dodgy handle to Phil today. “You might need to take a look,” I said. “It won’t be long before it becomes a problem.”

It was storytime, and Felix had seen little of his father today. Phil volunteered to read the story, and he pottered up to the top floor as soon as he had finished his dinner.

I was sitting in Maddie’s bedroom, also on the top floor, where I was treated to a barrage of sound effects as Phil stumped good naturedly up the second flight of stairs and into Felix’s bedroom. Sounds of non-specific bustle: “Now,” we heard him proclaim with his usual theatre, “let’s see what’s up with this handle….”

And then,we heard what we least expected to hear: the door slam shut, with Phil and Felix inside.

His timing, had it been contrived, would have been impeccable. We heard the handle rattling, gently at first, and then with greater and greater urgency. “Er….hello?” he ventured tentatively; this soon escalated to a pointedly urgent “Can you come and let me out – I’m locked in!”

Maddie was almost weeping with laughter by this time. I could hear Felix gurgling with mirth behind the door as I manipulated it and freed them. That naughty lock fairy must have been dancing a malicious jig.

And….she’s…..back in the game.

It took a while to calm the children down, and the tale will be told for many years to come. Phil explained sheepishly that he had though the problem was that the door wouldn’t shut; he had no idea it wouldn’t open.

Next week is half term and Phil is on holiday for a week. But we shan’t see him: oh, no. Because he has an extensive lock replacement programme planned.

No handle will remain unturned.


48 thoughts on “Locked in: the day the handle broke

  1. Hahaha – too funny ๐Ÿ™‚ This has reminded my of when my son Michael was about 3 and we were at my fathers place and Michael locked himself in the house with all of us on the outside – and the stove was on – it was panic stations!

  2. What fun! I have a door that leads from the kitchen to the bathroom and has a double lock. I never knew it did until I double turned the key by mistake and locked myself out at 1 in the morning! That was a long wait till help could arrive in the morning. A simple double turn and fiddle with the key and voila! Relief in sight! Lovely post!

  3. Very entertaining, and yes to your question. I once lived in a barn on a farm which had a dodgy lock on the toilet/bathroom door. Fortunately for me I locked myself on the outside (fortunate because I lived alone), but actually, the bathroom is not one of those rooms that is optional to enter! And due to the nature of the problem, I hadn’t noticed it was locked until I really wanted inside. The landlord came round pronto and opened it with a screwdriver. I now own such a thing myself.

    1. Screwdrivers can be so essential in these situations, Stace! Though ours, a hefty example, was used to prize the lock out of its wooden casing. So fortunate you weren’t stuck inside: it makes me resolve to take a mobile with me, even into the smallest room!

  4. Our problem is a front door with a Yale style lock which has lost the snib: so you can’t withdraw the lock part and hold it back…. occasionally nipping out for the bins means that, (usually in non-waterproof slippers, or even socks) one finds one self Locked Out!

    Good luck with the lock replacements. Finding the ‘right sort’ can be a bother, and quite expensive.

  5. Good chuckle morning start Kate – have you tried WD40 it often answers my prayers? You have reminded me of a ‘lock out story’, which I shall write about in the future – thanks.

  6. Rosemary has the answer, WD-40, it’s a man’s best friend. Of course, duct tape gets a little jealous of that situation. That’s really all we need in life, a little duct tape, some WD-40 and a screwdriver. I may start a DIY show based on this very premise….

  7. Ha! I’ve not trusted locked doors since I was trapped in an airplane commode. Turbulence hit whilst inside, return to seat over intercom, and the door won’t budge. In end, wasn’t lock, door slider was hung up on abandoned food cart. I’m glad the recent episodes were easy fixes ~

    1. ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m loving comments today, Angela: I’m sure it was anything but hilarious at the time, but permit me a little laughter. And all they had to do was roll the cart away….

  8. This was just all ’round funny! Love “black incarceration fairy.” If you’re alone, do take care on which side of the door you stand while wielding your WD40 can, just on the off chance that said fairy attempts to avoid banishment!

  9. Hehe, you had me chuckling today, poor Phil. And there was I, wishing to myself that we had a door handle never mind a lock on our bathroom door. There’s advantages, obviously! Happy half term! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. Great story! Reminds me of an event I once attended at an old recreational hall, where a man locked himself into the bathroom and couldn’t get out again. The maintenance man took his time responding to our call for help – seems he had little sympathy for a man who would enter, never mind lock himself into, the ladies’… (perhaps I should add, he was alone in there) ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. It’s almost certainly a poltergeist ๐Ÿ˜‰ Actually just a need for some careful adjustment – preferabbly by a lock engineer! I’ve never experienced this in our house but then I’ve usually replaced time expired locks and their fairies myself ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m alway sad to see the fairies go though ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    1. I bet you’re not popular with them, Martin. They probably hrumph off to some nearby house with the same mentality as ours, to spread mayhem in another quarter ๐Ÿ˜€

  12. Lovely doom for the poor locks, and fodder for the blog for you!

    We had those cheap knob/locks that you could force open by putting a crochet hook in the tiny hold on the wrong side. Once my brother and I got wise to that?

    All bets were off.

  13. I locked myself in the bathroom when I was a toddler. No one on the outside could make me understand how to unlock it, leaving the adults to remove the door to rescue me from the toilet.

  14. Oh my goodness, Kate! That’s too funny. The children will not only remember it, they will never let Phil forget it! Our family still laughs at the story of an uncle’s girlfriend locking herself in the bathroom at our house during a Christmas party…we didn’t hear her, and she was quite upset by the time we discovered her. This was decades ago and we still talk about it! Anyway, hope everyone settled down so you could get back to the bedtime stories ๐Ÿ™‚ Debra

    1. Phil is so unusual that the children had a good laugh and then put it down to experience. Debra. They don’t bat an eye at his antics these days ๐Ÿ™‚ Storytime resumed seamlessly…

  15. Thank you: we enjoyed some really good chuckles on this one. The ‘locked in again’ suggestion was lovely, the ‘Hello?’ reminded me of my late Dad when in danger of drowning, and the locked-in revelation had us howling.

  16. Tell me, Kate, how does a mother not say, “I told you so…”? ๐Ÿ˜€

    Thank goodness your family does not have fear of locked doors which I googled to see if there was a specific word for this condition. I did not find a word, but I did find a video of a sermon on “Fear and Doubt: Opening Locked Doors”. Pastor Polly gives a rousing resolution from the Tower of Faith Worship Center.

    I decided not to link it to you…I doubt it was on the 3rd floor. ๐Ÿ˜€

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