An Escapologist's Diary. Part 2.

A trivial thought occurs. When I leave Glasgow in a few weeks, I will have no keys.

I’ll surrender my house keys to the letting agent and return my drinking club key to the proprietor. All I’ll have left is a pocketful of fluff.

No keys! No security. No commitments. Nothing worth locking up.

At present, my keyring is one of a pair of talismen that is never more than a couple of feet away. A harmless ritual, I absently tap my pockets every now and again to check that wallet and keys are still with me. A ritual soon to be unhinged.

The absence of keys from my pocket is a testament to my giving it all up: to walking away from normal things. The keys go out and a little bit of madness comes in.

I have a spare set of keys in my office drawer, one that the letting agent doesn’t know about. As a symbolic gesture, I might overarm these into Clyde on my way out of town.

A colleague agrees that having no keys would be weird. Since we were about thirteen years old, we have both carried sets of keys every single day, like a couple of jailers. Although he is not of my escapologist bent, he agrees that having no keys is a symbol of liberation.

“I wish I could do what you do and walk away from everything,” he says, humouring my ideas. Last week I would have told him that only bad faith keeps him at his desk but since then he has bought a house next to a petrol station in Bearsden. Now he has a twenty-seven-year mortgage and another set of keys.

How many keys do you have?


Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

2 Responses to “An Escapologist's Diary. Part 2.”

  1. Dominic Brown says:

    I had the same realization the day I left Winnipeg for Vancouver, in 1991. I held up an empty keychain, and told my friends, ‘Today I am a free man!’

    True, I have acquired keys again since, but never more than a couple at a time, and that moment has stayed in my memory as a warning: every key represents a lock, every lock a feared loss, every fear a neurotic attachment.

    I look forward to the day when I can again walk around with not one key in my pocket.

  2. Rob says:

    Precisely the symbolic sentiment I had in mind.

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