I arrive home, a couple of screaming, hungry kids in the back of the car, to a non-opening electric gate. I try the fob thing – nothing. Get out of the car and try the pad thing – nothing. No flashing lights and beeping noises when I press the buttons. It is very much dead. So, I ring Husband.
‘You need to use the manual key,’ he says.
‘Ok,’ I say, ‘Where is it?’
‘In the kitchen,’ he says.
‘Wonderful,’ I say.
Husband is an hour away. The gate is shared with two neighbours. One is out. The other has gone off to Milton Keynes on business (downright selfish). I have just battled through forty minutes of emergency road works to get home. I CANNOT get back on the road. It is hell out there.
So I ask myself: what would Bear Grylls do?
And the answer is: he would scale that gate.
It doesn’t matter that I’m wearing a floral tea dress with tights. I am going to scale that gate for the sake of my kids
The gate is at least six foot high and, like most gates has tall, dangerous looking pokey things to ward off burglars. There are narrow gaps between each of the pokey things and, on the bottom bar, there are more pokey things. Unfortunately, my court shoes keep slipping off these bastard pokey things as I try in vain to grab hold of something at the top of the gate to haul myself up. I endeavour to squeeze my foot sideways into a gap, but that causes a really unpleasant pain in my lateral ligament complex. It’s also not high enough to serve as a step so I stop. I look back at the car. The volume is on mute as I am outside it, but it’s clear the children are on full throttle. What do I do?
I have a moment of pure genius. I get back in the car and drive it right up to one of the seven foot brick pillars adjacent to the gate. I get out of the car and jump onto the bonnet like Michael Jackson. Standing on the bonnet, I stretch to get my hands up on to the top of the pillar. I am in the process of hauling a leg over, when disaster strikes. My tights rip from crotch to knee, creating an air-conditioning vent that I can do without given the ambient temperature is five degrees.
I soldier on regardless and somehow get myself onto to that pillar. It is only when I’m perched on it, in my tea dress, that I realise I have no idea what I’m going to do next. There is no car on the other side to jump onto. On the contrary, there is a ditch.
My survival instincts kick in. I use my five foot five inch body to cover most of the nine foot distance by sliding down the pillar instead of jumping off and breaking a femur. It is impossible to do this in a lady-like fashion. But, hey, I just scaled a gate with a gaping hole in my tights.
Run to the house and let myself in. Search in the kitchen drawer for the key.
It’s not there.
Decide to ring Husband again. Can’t find my phone. I have left it in the car. On the other side of the gate.
Okay, so I’ll use the land line. Land line is dead. Run out of the house and down to the gates. Sprogs look apoplectic. I need to get back to them. But how the fuck do I get back? No ladder in house. Thinking about dragging some furniture outside when I spot the neighbour’s bin at bottom of the driveway from four days ago. He’s a lazy bastard but I love him right now.
The bin is a bit unstable but I clamber onto it and scale that pillar back onto the car bonnet. Phone Husband over hysterical screaming in the background.
‘Sorry,’ he says, ‘I forgot. I have the manual key.’
He never takes the manual key with him. Ever. On the one day that the gate is being a bitch, he has taken the key with him. (Why did I marry this man?)
‘Are the lights on in any of the neighbours’ houses?’ he asks.
‘Yes, but they aren’t home.’
‘Ok,’ he says, ‘It’s not a power cut then. Take a look at the fuse box.’
(What the hell is that?) ‘Where is that?’ I ask.
‘In the garage,’ he says. On the other side of the gate.
‘Wonderful,’ I say.
I repeat the whole Bear Grylls scale-that-gate thing. Run back into the house. Burst into garage. With husband on phone (I have remembered it this time), I find the fuse box. It’s a just a box with lots of switches in it. One switch is down. Husband informs me that this, in fact, is the problem. He tells me to push it back up and, when I do, all the lights come on like it’s Christmas. (Thank God I married this fantastic man.)
Run back down the driveway, furiously pressing the gate fob with all of my thumbs. That gate cannot open fast enough as far as I am concerned. I burst through as it leisurely parts. Jump in the car and drive at 60mph to front door. Retrieve screeching sprogs and tear into house, one dangling from each armpit. Shove smoothies down their throats, shove a brandy in mine. Stick Cbeebies on full blast and phone a friend for debrief. She tells me she has no idea what she would have done in my shoes (to be fair to her they were quite pointy heeled and she lives in ballet flats). It takes one whole hour to calm everyone down but we are all well recovered by bed time.
Beat that, Bear Grylls.
K Rhosair is a YA fantasy author represented by Julie Crisp who is currently preparing her debut novel Aghni, an Indian inspired mythological fantasy, for submission to publishers. She is on Twitter @krhosair and blogs at kiirarhosair.wordpress.com