‘Well, it didn’t just happen! Someone must have done it!’
I thought of my father yelling this at my siblings and me about the various things that went wrong in our household while we were growing up – broken glasses, vanished keys, ripped sofa covers, that kind of thing. We’d all vehemently deny any knowledge of the occurrence, and as a result we’d all usually share some sort of punishment.
Well, the mysterious disappearing strikeplate in my house over December also didn’t just happen – but trying to work out who, how, when and why is making my head hurt.
The way I discovered it was like this. I start work at about 6am, and because my study is right next to my son’s room, and he only gets up for work around 7am, I usually quietly pull his room door closed before I sit down at my computer in the morning. Usually, the door closes fairly solidly, with a ‘click’ as the bolt slides into the strikeplate (I had to look up these terms on the net – here’s the link if you also don’t know what the various parts of a door-handle are called: http://www.ehow.com/list_6746568_parts-door-handle.html.)
But on this particular morning, the door wouldn’t close – or, rather, it did close but it didn’t ‘click’ and stay closed. Later, when my son woke up, we examined the door together to see what was preventing it from staying closed – and discovered something extraordinary. The strikeplate and its two screws had been removed.
Now, I know what you’re going to say: it had probably come loose and fallen off at some stage, and then got pushed under a bookcase or something, and I’d only just noticed it then. But that’s not the case, and here’s why:
• The exposed wood was noticeably clean – in other words, the strikeplate had obviously been removed recently.
• The screw-holes weren’t stripped – there were no little bits of wood around them, and when I bought a new strikeplate and screwed it in, the screws (standard size – they come with the strikeplate) bit cleanly into the wood.
• If the strikeplate had become loose, we would have noticed it – it would have rattled when touched and it probably would have prevented the door from closing.
• If the screws had somehow come loose and fallen out, and the strikeplate had fallen off, we would have found either the screws or the strikeplate or both – yet even a very careful search of the area around the door revealed none of these.
Given these observations, there does seem to be only one explanation: at some stage during December, somebody carefully removed the strikeplate and its screws. Who? When? Why? I’d love to know.
• Of course, finding a new strikeplate (pictured above – it’s the left-hand piece) in Malmesbury proved incredibly frustrating – Jack’s Hardware does stock strikeplates, only not at the moment; BuildIt doesn’t stock them at all (and the woman who served me was hostile even by Malmesbury’s antagonistic standards); and WPK was its usual completely useless self (they stocked only entire door-handle-and-lock sets at a hefty price). I finally found what I was looking for at SuperSPAR – they really do save Malmesbury from being the most aggressively unhelpful place on the planet.