The curse of being obsessively tidy

In My View columnist Marianne Gibbs. Picture: ARCHANT.

In My View columnist Marianne Gibbs. Picture: ARCHANT. - Credit: Evening News © 2009

In My View - By Marianne Gibbs

Marianne Gibbs hates losing her car keys. Picture: ferlistockphoto

Marianne Gibbs hates losing her car keys. Picture: ferlistockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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.

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.

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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.