Posts Tagged ‘illusion’

There are certain laws by which we live our lives, often governed by statute but also by something that is probably best described as chance.

We are well acquainted with the law of averages, Parkinson’s Law, Murphy’s law, the law of diminishing returns, the law that says school holiday homework shouldn’t be started until the evening before term starts, and other laws that, in the same sort of way, add a little light and shade to life.

Let me introduce you to a new one: not so new that you won’t have come up against it sometimes, but one which you may not have thought applied to so many people. Especially to me. This is the law that makes things disappear, just like that, and then reappear in the place where you have frantically looked for them six times before.

This dastardly Law of Illusion is in full operation in my life on a daily basis, especially when I am preparing to leave the house. This is when I engage in what Geoff refers to as ‘bag faffing’. It’s merely a rearrangement of the contents of one bag into another that I deem more suited to the purpose for which I am exiting Hill Towers. I mean, who needs a rucksack when a small bag will suffice?

So I rearrange and am ready to leave. Except I’m not. Sadly, that was only Stage One of the bag faff.

Keys? Phone? Money? Geoff recites a checklist. I invariably fail on all three, having been distracted by triumphantly remembering to slip my scribbled shopping list of two items into the bag. I trudge off and round up the keys, the phone and the money.

Now, trust me, I’m ready to leave. Keys? Geoff makes a final check. Oh yes, I say, confidently. Look, I’ve just this minute put them in here. I fumble (OK, I faff). No keys come to hand. They should. They’re on a socking great keyring with jingly bits. I hear nothing and I feel nothing.

The faffing intensifies as quietly as possible and reaches a new level of desperation. They must be in your purse if you say you’ve only just put them in there, Geoff says, entirely reasonably but with what is undoubtedly a note of mounting irritation.

The bag is small. Keys cannot go unnoticed. I plunge my fingers into every corner, run them along each pocket. Nothing. No keys. But if not here, where I so recently put them, where can they be?

There’s nothing for it. I tip the contents of the bag on to the bottom stair in the hall. The first thing that falls out is the keys.

I plead with Geoff to understand that the whole pantomime has been caused by the Law of Illusion. I illustrate this further by telling him how so often a train ticket, put carefully in an accessible pocket so that I can easily flourish it when requested, becomes instantly invisible, nowhere to be found.

The heart-thumping panic that accompanies the fevered faffing as the ticket checker approaches is nothing to the relief that washes over me when the ticket materialises exactly where I have already looked – and faffed with frantic fingers – six times.

It’s quite cruel the way things can go invisible. I spotted my daughter unpacking her bag only this morning. What’s gone AWOL? I asked. My phone charger, she said, but I don’t understand because I could swear it was in here just now.

And indeed it was – but it only revealed itself after a two-generation faff of epic proportions.


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