Spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch, combined and in pantomime, appear to be a way of remembering how to cross oneself successfully. For me, they are a simple mnemonic to remember to leave the house properly equipped. As age creeps up upon me, I find I forget things. Like not doing up my flies or forgetting to brush my hair, or coming out without my glasses. However, there is nothing more irritating than driving down to the shops only to find that I had left my wallet at home. And while it is useful to know what time it is, and therefore if the shops are open or not, I depart from the list by not wearing or indeed owning a watch. One day, when they invent watches that tell us what year it is, then maybe I’ll reconsider.
So, my four stations of the cross have descended into three: zipper, not that this is really my immediate concern - unless of course I am entertaining - spectacles and wallet.
Unfortunately, a knot in a handkerchief won’t do. Firstly, because I would have to remember to carry a hankie, and secondly, because my list of vital things to remember before I leave the property turns out to be rather longer than the t, s and two double-yous mentioned above.
I need two pairs of glasses, one for reading and the other to keep the sun out of my eyes. These sun-glasses, usually originally belonging to somebody else, often tend towards being bent, scratched or hopelessly unfashionable, which explains how I ended up with them; but they are useful in the summer, especially if I find I need a short nap while talking to the vicar.
I like to carry a mobile phone. Mine has a short battery life – a couple of hours or so – and is rarely charged when I am. This makes it an optional item on my list. Keys of course: car-keys, house and that strange one on the key-ring that no one remembers where it came from. I must carry an ID, which these days, and thanks to the polizie, mean both a passport and a letter from immigration saying that they care. So much easier than the old Residents Card which I carried about with me for forty years. They’ll be making us wear a blue triangle embroidered on our shirt next thing we know.
My pockets are filling up. I’ve brushed my hair and had a pee. Shut the dogs away and checked that the door is locked. I’ve got the plastic shopping bag out of the kitchen (no sense in wasting three céntimos), turned the water off in the garden (hah!), put the chicken away in its cage, eaten its egg, checked my pockets again and added the coupon from the supermarket, a pen, a small camera… and am now ready.
But wait, I’ve forgotten where I had planned to go.