How to lose an £80 car key …

Renault key card
Renault key card for Mégane — and yes, the image is mirrored because the original was from a left-hand drive car!

A couple of days ago I did something I’ve never done before, and I’m not really proud of this: I lost a car key; an expensive car key too.

The magic key-card

Jane has a Renault Mégane Sport Tourer (the estate version) which has a magic key-card system for locking, unlocking and starting the car.

For my Vauxhall Astra I’ve got a button on the key that will lock and unlock the car from a distance. As I approach the car I press the button and CLUNK! the car magically unlocks. You’ve probably got something similar on your car too.

Well, Jane’s key-card is even more impressive than that. You don’t even need to press the button, you just need to have it somewhere on your person and using magic the car senses that you are in the immediate vicinity and the doors unlock when you pop your hand into the handle to open the door.

And it doesn’t stop there!

You don’t even have to slide the key-card into its slot for the engine to start. When you press the START/STOP button the key-card just has to be somewhere inside the car.

Or on the roof, as I discovered.

What happened next?

In fact, lets say that you accidentally left the key-card on the roof and then drove off to … well, an example might be to St Andrews, and while negotiating a right-turn at a roundabout, lets say on the A917, the key-card calmly slid off the roof. What would happen then?

In that situation you might expect the car to make a bit of a fuss about it. You might expect that it sounds an alarm. Or the lights flash a bit. Or the engine comes to an abrupt stop even … although that would be a dangerous option, thinking about it.

But no, it didn’t. The first I knew that something was amiss was when I pulled into a parking space on North Street in St Andrews and was politely invited to press the START/STOP button twice to confirm that I did indeed wish to stop the engine.

“Hmm … that’s a bit odd,” I thought to myself while obliging the car’s seemingly random whim. A few minutes later it all became clear.

So there I was standing beside the car frantically and fruitlessly checking every pocket. Passers-by might have been forgiven for thinking that I was on fire. The anger that I was directing at myself certainly was. I sat back in the car, pressed the START/STOP button and … “Card not detected” flashed the message on the dashboard.

Oh, right! So now you’re happy to flash a warning message!

Jane: the fifth emergency service

I phoned Jane. There was panic in my voice. “I’ve lost the key-card!”

“What key-card?” Jane asked calmly.

Calmly?! This was no time for calm. She clearly didn’t understand the severity of the situation. This was clearly a time for swearing. This was exactly the kind of situation that swearing was invented for.

“THE KEY-CARD!” I said louder, using the same logic that British tourists have employed for years while abroad, that if you say things loud enough people will be forced to understand. “THE KEY-CARD! THE FECKIN’ KEY-CARD!”

Swearing didn’t help Jane understand any quicker, but I like to think that it helped prevent me from crying. At least at that point in the conversation!

Thankfully Jane’s mum and sister had just arrived at our house so they took over Operation Twins Feed and Jane jumped into my car and drove the 10 miles as quickly and safely as she could to St Andrews to deliver me her key-card, while I stood guard and rehearsed over and over how this could possibly have happened. This is not the sort of thing I do.

The simple answer is that it happened because I was over-tired. But at the time, that didn’t seem quite enough to justify losing an £80 key-card. I was really angry with myself.

Lost and found

But thankfully I had scripture to hand to help me. In the New Testament there is more than one parable about losing things and finding them.

When I got back — I’d gone to St Andrews, by the way, to get emergency supplies of nappies and infant formula — I parked on our drive, got out my torch and went searching. I retraced the route on foot, scouring every inch of the road and pavement. In the dark.

I reasoned that if I’d left the key-card on top of the passenger’s side (the left), while loading bags into the car, then it would most easily have come off when I was turning right. I made an extra careful sweep of anywhere that I’d had to turn right.

And then I found it, about half a mile down the road.

To be honest, it was the clack-clack! sound of another car driving over the key-card that alerted me to its location. But praise the Lord! there it was. And when I returned home I was even more delighted to discover that it even worked!

It was lost, but now it’s found. All that was left to do was to kill the fatted calf and celebrate. After I’d unpacked the formula and nappies, of course.

Possible improvements to the design of Baby 1.0

Feeding Reuben while holding Joshua
Me, feeding Reuben on Christmas Day while holding Joshua.

Wow! Can it really be one month since I last posted anything on this blog?! It’s not that there’s been nothing to blog about, it’s just that … <whispers>twins are rather time consuming</whispers>. Woah! There’s an understatement if ever I read one.

If you want more regular updates then check out my Twitter feed; if even has an RSS feed (if that means anything to you — if not, check out the BBC News feeds page for an explanation).

Words of wisdom

Now, before Reuben and Joshua emerged into this world last month I received the following two comments from friends. Sophia, who has twin daughters, wrote

The first few months can be very, very hard with twins and I found that people who had had only one really couldn’t understand that.

Louise, who has younger twin brothers, wrote

I have some experience of twin boys… My word, you are in for a shock! I think ‘relentless’ is the word I would use…


Joshua smilingTomorrow it will be six weeks since Reuben and Joshua (pictured right) were born and what an amazing adventure we’ve all been on.

Some days have been great, straight forward and relatively uneventful. The boys have fed well, gone down to sleep quickly and slept for hours, repeat. Other days, however, have very, very difficult. The boys have been unsettled, been out of sync with their feeding and have kept us up for hours at night. Two to three hours sleep just isn’t enough!

Someone at work asked me, “Do they wake at the same time at night?”

I said, “No, but Jane and I do!”

But you know, overall … overall it’s been amazing and continues to be so.

We have two beautiful boys (they’ll not like being called that all their lives!) and two of the most content babies I’ve ever encountered. They really have made life so much easier for these n00b parents.

I’ve had such an amazing day with them today. This morning I sent Jane to bed because she was fighting some sickness bug that I think she must have picked up from my brother on Boxing Day, while Reuben, Joshua and I worked out together how they could be fed by me on my own.

A lot of people have asked “How do you cope with two at once?” The simple answer is that we don’t know any different.

Reuben looking serious, lying on his play mat.

Possible improvements

Over the last few weeks, however, I’ve been taking notes. There are one or two things that I’ve noticed could be improved with the basic design of the human baby.


The most obvious is a handle. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a handle on their back! Obviously, it would have to be recessed so that it didn’t hurt when they lay down, but when required it could be pulled out and the baby could be more easily and securely held.

In the womb a baby has an umbilical cord. This is used for a short season and then is removed. Well, their handle could be the same, and comes away after say 6 months.


Speaking of the umbilical cord, it would be really useful if a small portion of it could be retained after birth onto which a small valve is fitted. This could be used during feeding, as the current ‘burping’ or ‘winding’ techniques aren’t the most efficient.

What would be easier and quicker, sitting the baby up and rubbing and patting its back for 5-10 minutes or simply releasing a small valve on their umbilical cord stump, a bit like ‘bleeding’ a radiator? (We’d need to find another term as ‘bleeding’ the baby would attract the attention of the social services, methinks!)


But when would you know when to use it, I hear you ask. Well, that brings me to my next design improvement. How about a dashboard on the baby’s chest? I suggest the following dials:

  • Fuel
    Empty on one side, full on the other. Never miss a feed again, or give one too late.
  • Pressure
    Now you can easily determine when the baby needs winded. (See valve above.)
  • Rev counter
    How upset is the baby really? With a rev counter you could quickly tell at a glance
  • Temperature
    A few times we’d have saved ourselves half an hour trying to work out why Joshua was crying when all he needed was to be wrapped in a blanket. A temperature gauge would have been a time-saver.

Further inventions

Another couple of ideas we’ve had … I say ‘we’, I really just mean a couple of ideas that I’ve had and Jane’s humoured me.

Drip feed

Night feeds are tiring on parents. At the moment our mid-night feed can happen anywhere from 01:45 to 03:00. That’s a grim timeslot. You certainly won’t find me at my best should you roll up at our front door at that time.

How much easier if you could double-nappy the babies then fit them up with some kind of intravenous drip of infant formula milk! Or something. (Seriously though, don’t try this at home!)

But wouldn’t that be much easier!

GM cows

Now, I realise that the whole GM topic is still a tad controversial, but has anyone considered developing GM cows to produce infant formula?

Just another wee, free thought from me for some boffin to boot around with his mates.

Conversation #6

Conversation while feeding Reuben and Joshua the other night.

Gareth: You know, in many ways having children is like having a dishwasher.

Jane: Really?! How?

Gareth: Well, you know … you don’t actually need one but life feels somehow … better … with one.

Jane: Yeah, but the main difference is that a dishwasher makes your life easier.

Gareth: I suppose so. And you don’t fill your children with tablets and salt.

Jane: … or dishes!

Gareth: So … erm, in conclusion children aren’t like dishwashers, are they?

Jane: No, not really.