Living Between the Lines


Email is both a blessing and a thorn in one’s side.

Where would we be without it?

We’d be back in the days of pen and paper of course.

I have mentioned before in this blog, the wonder of receiving a letter. I have read similar nostalgic thoughts from other bloggers. The speed and convenience of emails cannot be questioned of course.

However, the other week was the first time I have seen the email used as an SOS, like a “message in a bottle”. The email concerned was sent to our wonderful management company from a guest at our holiday home. The guest had been particularly “needy” since his arrival, 24 hours thence. His emailed concerns ranged from being unable to locate the instructions for the wireless internet connection (on the coffee table in a folder marked “instructions”) to noting that the hinges on the kitchen cupboard were loose. All concerns, in themselves, easy to address and sort. After the fifth or sixth email of this nature, all sent within 24 hours of his arrival, our ever-patient management company received the following urgent missive…

Received: Sunday: 10.29AM

Subject: Emergency

Can anyone come a.s.a.p. – we are locked in the house as the front door has malfunctioned.



I should mention that our holiday home is not some futuristic dwelling with high-tech operated doors and windows. The door locks and unlocks with an ordinary Yale key.

Before anyone had time to respond to this urgent plea for help, the following addendum landed:

Received: Sunday 10:36AM

Subject: Emergency

 My daughter climbed out of the window and opened the door from outside, it now seems to be operating correctly – is this lock temperamental?


It begs the question, does this gentleman panic more than most? I should point out that the house has a back door and a back gate from which escape is possible. The lock is not temperamental but we do wonder if he was trying to fit the key into the wrong lock (there are two on the door but only one is currently in action). Still, one man’s emergency is another man’s shrug of the shoulders so who am I to judge? Perhaps he has claustrophobia. If that is the case then he has my whole-hearted sympathy. Reason flies out the window (if there is one) when I think I am trapped.

My family are fond of reminding me of the time I was trapped in a downstairs cloakroom in a holiday villa in Italy. The room was windowless but this had not worried me as I stepped inside, despite outside temperatures reaching well into the forties. I happily closed the door and locked it.

Ready to exit, I unlocked it and pushed. Nothing. The door would not give. Still, I was not perturbed for obviously, it must pull. I pulled it. Nothing. Try as I might, the door would not open. I was still relatively unworried as I fiddled with the lock. Perhaps I had not locked it in the first place and turning the snib had actually locked it. Confidently, I tried again. Nothing. The door was well and truly jammed.

Feeling panic mount as common sense fled, I yelled for my husband. I knew he was in the garden – surely he would hear?

An eternity passed during which I tried to tell myself I was silly to panic. The room was pleasant enough and had running water after all. I wasn’t stuck in a lift for goodness sake! Maybe I should meditate. If I shut my eyes I could imagine a window behind me. (Who was I kidding?)

Perhaps I could break the door down if I had to. I cast my eyes around the room for something heavy and sharp. The only likely instrument to hand was the soap dispenser. It would surely shatter before it made so much as a mark on the door. All these thoughts tumbled round my head as I banged on the door. I now had no idea if it was locked or unlocked.

The ceiling lowered and the walls began to draw in. My temperature shot up. I began to bang more loudly and raised my voice a tad.

How long had I been incarcerated in here? 5 minutes, ten minutes? Had no one missed me yet? I could hear music and voices. I shouted. In fact, I might have screamed.

“What on earth’s the matter?”

My husband’s anxious voice greeted me as he slid the door back. I stared. It was a sliding door? How had I not remembered that? How had I become confused? I had pushed, I had pulled but I had not slid.

I staggered past him, by now a dripping mess.

Thinking back to that episode, until now confined to “embarrassing moments I prefer to forget” which include, Another Embarrassing Moment , I can extend some sympathy towards our guest whose daughter at least had the presence of mind to climb through the window.

Would I have been tempted to send an SOS email had there been a computer in the cloakroom? Probably!

I am an Author, wife to one, mother to five and grandmother to six. I live in the English countryside in Hampshire, UK, with my husband and two dogs and am a non exec Director for Glow


  • Teresa

    Oh dear, he sounds as if he’s got a bit of the Colonel Jones about him! But I can certainly sympathise with you being trapped in the windowless cloakroom – it must have been horrible at the time! x

  • Andrea

    I was shocked that there were THREE people unable to determine if there was a back door. Three people who thought they had to resort to one of them climbing out a window. I wonder how these three function in their own home? To whom do they e-mail their concerns there?
    I’m sorry about your sliding door experience. Why do our minds trick us in these ways? Some invisible Something is probably endlessly amused.

    • Deborah Barker

      Yes, we were quite shocked ourselves Andrea. As for the sliding door experience, I believe the things we lose are hidden by mischievous spirits who delight in our perplexion as we stare at the place we believe them to have been, so perhaps they are responsible for this too!

  • patricia60

    I can totally identify with your closet – sliding story! but mine included a bear and an smelly outhouse, which turned out to be a practical joke by my brother outside the door, when I had just entered. I did stay several hours within, then I started to hear everyone swimming at the lake so I thought the bear must have ambled away and the coast was clear. Parents assumed I was just reading somewhere….and it turned out there was no bear at all….I did not think it was funny and never reacted well when the story was often repeated.

    The good news about email family – is that someone did not need to drive there several times…and what a smart child! Sounds like a person who can not think.

  • screenscribbler

    It sounds like you should stock some emergency medication if your needy guest returns. Deborah. We all have our moments of blind panic within a lifetime but it seems to me its just another day at the office for him.
    My most embarrasing moment of blind panic was on holiday in Southsea, before I learned to swim. I had an inflatable ring float that had rapidly deflated. Lots of thashing about and sceaming for help, until a grown up came to my rescue. ‘put your feet down’he said. I was in about two foot of water.

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