” I shouted, “I can’t get out.
I heard her come out of our bedroom and along the short corridor to our en suite. “What do you mean – you can’t get out?
” Her tone was already accusatory. I had obviously done something stupid.
I prepared my defence from the other side of the door. “I locked the door and now I can’t unlock it – the key turns but nothing happens – listen.
” I turned the key in the lock. There were scraping noises, but the key did not engage with the lock mechanism and the door remained securely locked. I rattled the door handle to prove it.
Joan rattled it from her side, just to make sure. “But why did you lock it? There’s no one else here.
I hadn’t thought of that. “I don’t know – there was a key in the lock so I turned it.
” It made perfect sense to me. If there is any kind of device in a hotel room, I will play with it. I switch on radios and TVs, play with remotes and make use of coffee and tea-making facilities when present. Did you know that, if you pull that string in the shower, it rings an alarm bell? As for keys – well, I turn them.
I should explain that it was September 2015 and that we had been not long arrived, with our good friends, Jon and Jean, at Azienda Agrituristica Bergi, Castelbuono in Sicily on Inntravel’s Mountains of Sicily walk
. Up to now nothing had gone wrong – except for Jon being searched at Gatwick, after Airport Security mistook the electronic device he uses to control his back pain for a bomb. This was, of course, after Jean had warned him to declare the device and Jon had insisted that he didn’t need to.
You might think this event was unwelcome, but for me it’s the unexpected – even when mildly discomfiting – that makes a holiday memorable. And in this instance, of course, it gave us all the opportunity to remind Jon that he isn’t always infallibly correct about everything.
A walking holiday provides a planned framework within which there are opportunities for surprising things to happen. The details of Inntravel’s walk in the Madonie Mountains were redolent with promise in this respect. We were provided with maps which, we were assured, bore very little relation to the actual lie of the land; and footpaths, we were informed, that were not only inaccurately depicted on the maps, but were only intermittently waymarked and would occasionally disappear altogether. Fantastic! Except, of course, we didn’t lose our way at all. When the unexpected happens, it is never the expected unexpected.
Which is how I came to be locked in the bathroom at Azienda Agrituristica Bergi. Examining the heavy key that I had removed from the lock, I recognised a sort of antique appearance that proclaimed, “Decorative Function Only!” This really was my fault.
“This is your fault,
” Joan said.
Personally, I was less worried about the apportionment of blame than the acquisition of dinner. It had been a long, varied and interesting walk from Pomieri and now, tired and a little footsore, I needed and deserved the excellent dinner we had been promised. I would have a thirst-quenching beer as an aperitif with the antipasti
, then a few glasses of red wine with the courses that followed. Perhaps a digestif before bed…
I looked around. I wouldn’t die of thirst, obviously, and there was somewhere to sit down. But I didn’t fancy spending the night on that hard, tiled floor, no matter how fluffy the towels. I looked at the bottom of the door. There was no chance of getting beer or wine, but the antipasti
– if it consisted of thin slices of charcuterie – could be passed under it, maybe followed by a thin and crispy pizza, so long as there was not too much topping…
It was while I was thinking about this that I realised that the key would fit under the door. “I’ll pass the key under the door,
” I said to Joan. “See if it works from your side.
I heard her put the key in the door. “It won’t turn,
” she said. “Shall I go to Reception and ask them?
I imagined the confusion and incredulity as Joan tried to explain that her husband was locked in the shower room and couldn’t get out. This would be difficult enough to explain in an English hotel – let alone an Italian one. "But why did he turn the key?
" they would ask. "It is obviously antique!
“No, try jiggling it.
She jiggled it. “It still won’t turn.
At that point, Jon and Jean turned up, asking if we were ready to go to dinner. Joan explained the situation (to much hilarity).
Then Jon turned the key and opened the door.
He never fails to remind me of this incident. Dinner was outstanding, by the way.