Friday, 25 January 2013


I forgot a set of keys to our apartment today when I inadvertantly left them at my sister-in-law's holiday apartment where I have been holed up working for the past 10 days.

It is not forgetting them that troubles me so much as the feeling that my memory was sabotaged. This is not the first time this has happened.

Firstly, I didn't know the keys were there. We haven't visited our own apartment for a while as it has been leased out while we were staying in my country last year. It has just become vacant and we are going there next week.

Packing up today I thought the keys were in a particular small suitcase. There were indeed keys there when I checked, but not the ones I expected. Never mind, I thought, we have the set that have been handed back and, in any case, the keys must be in one of the bags I am taking with me. I'll check when I stop off for a few days before catching our plane home.

Clearing up and storing some things I was leaving till the next time, I saw a computer bag in a wardrobe, which is currently being used for a dataprojector. The week before I thought I had lost the dataprojector as I hadn't spotted it buried under other things in the wardrobe. I remember this as I glimpsed it again.

Having taken a taxi to the coach station with my heavy suitcases and just a few minutes to go for my ride, I suddenly remembered the keys were in the computer bag. I could picture them now in the outside pocket. I contemplated missing my coach, loading my bags into another taxi and going back to check. I didn't because we would be able to collect the keys from the letting agent, though it would be a pain as we would not be able to go straight to our apartment when we arrived.

Thinking back over this, there were several points where my memory should have kicked in.

I shouldn't have been complacent that the keys were in one of the bags I was taking, because I was leaving the computer bag behind.

When I saw the computer bag, even if I didn't remember the keys being there, I should have thought to check it as I had checked all my other bags.

And really, I should have remembered that is where I last put the keys.

In other scenarios I have saved myself a great deal of trouble because something at the edge of my consciousness has prompted me to do something. For example, on my trip to India recently, I remembered a restaurant where we had looked to eat one night as our taxi drove past it going in the wrong direction. Something is not right, I thought before I recognised the restaurant, and realised where we were in time to get the driver to stop and let us out so we could walk the 100 metres to our hotel.

On those occassions it feels like my subconscious is helping me out. It is something I try to cultivate, by having a last look round, by thinking, "What have I forgotten?", by saying to myself "money, passport, ticket" when I am heading off on a trip. I wrote a blog here a while ago about how the process of remembering every day that passes is helping me to trust the feeling that something is incomplete so I work out what it is.

Thinking back to packing and looking for the keys, I almost feel I was being taunted by the clues needed to solve my problem which I registered, but they were not transmitted to the part of my brain they had to reach.

What on earth is going on when my memory sabotages me?

And how do I reduce the chance of it happening again?

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