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The curse of being obsessively tidy

PUBLISHED: 23:01 10 June 2019 | UPDATED: 23:01 10 June 2019

In My View columnist Marianne Gibbs.  Picture: ARCHANT.

In My View columnist Marianne Gibbs. Picture: ARCHANT.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2009

In My View - By Marianne Gibbs

Marianne Gibbs hates losing her car keys. Picture: ferlistockphotoMarianne Gibbs hates losing her car keys. Picture: ferlistockphoto

Some people are naturally tidy and some people aren't. I'm one of nature's naturally tidy people; I always have been because I like order and I'm also naturally methodical. This might sound like a gift - but it is also a curse! Nobody panics like a tidy person when they can't find what they are looking for; especially when it comes to car keys, purses and bus passes.

When I put something away, it always goes in the same place, so when I look for it I expect it to be there and if it isn't I panic wondering why it isn't there and where on earth I could have put it. 'It' usually means my car keys. When I go out I usually put them in my coat pocket if I'm wearing one and all the time I'm out I pat my pocket every now and then just to make sure they are still there. The real trouble starts when I lose them at home.

I have trained myself to empty my coat pockets on to a work surface in the hall; then hang the coat up. In theory my keys should be there when I need them but often they aren't. The logical side of my brain keeps telling me they haven't grown little legs and run away; it also reminds me I haven't lost them outside of the house because my front door key is on the same key ring and I would have used it to get into the house. So how have they moved?

The answer is that I moved them myself during a 'senior moment'. Maybe I put them back into my coat pocket, maybe I put them back in my hand bag, maybe I accidentally dropped them on the floor and didn't notice because I was distracted by something, or just maybe, Mrs Afford, my resident ghost moved them. Mrs Afford was the lady who owned my bungalow before me. When she died I bought the property and felt her presence straight away. I'm sure she looks on me as some kind of interloper who doesn't have her permission to be there.

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She doesn't confine herself to hiding car keys; she does it to theatre tickets and other important bits of paperwork too. Appointment letters from the hospital, dental reminders, train tickets, in fact anything and everything that I simply must not lose; disappear on the very day I need them.

I have now developed a system to prevent this happening. I screwed a large cork notice board above my hall work surface and bought a packet of pushpins so now; when anything important comes in the post, I pin it on the notice board with four pins; one in each corner and it stays there.

That doesn't help with the car key problem though. I've tried standing in the middle of the bungalow and saying in a firm voice: "Come on Mrs Afford - I know you've got them - so give them back". Does this work? Strangely it does, because within a few seconds of saying this I remember where I put my keys.

Do I think Mrs Afford really exists? Not sure, all I know is - she is a useful person to blame when I can't find things and things do turn up when I demand that she returns them. She has forced me to develop a system for controlling my important paperwork and to invest in a spare set of keys so that should I be in a hurry one day, the loss of my keys won't hold me up.

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