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Sunday, January 06, 2008

So anyway, I think we'd been home for about half an hour on Wednesday night when Lisa realised she'd lost her engagement ring. It's a measure of the level of trust we have in our relationship that I spent the first thirty seconds assuming she was winding me up. I changed my mind when she burst into tears and barely stopped crying for the next four hours.

Having spent the evening standing on the hard shoulder of a motorway in the dark, wrestling with space blankets, trying to climb out of the cab of an AA lorry without breaking a leg, and fumbling around with gloves in a service station car park, there were naturally a few places she could have lost it. We spent an hour looking in all the obvious locations - bags, pockets, floor, car - and by midnight had moved on to the slightly less obvious places like the inside of a packet of cheese in the fridge. I'm not kidding.

I stopped the washing machine mid-cycle and emptied everything onto the kitchen floor, did the same with the rubbish bins, and Lisa even looked inside a Happy Engagement card from her mother which she'd opened ten minutes before realising she had no proof of engagement. Basically we checked everything that Lisa had touched. And that includes my cat. You could lose anything in her fur.

Shortly after midnight I phoned Pease Pottage services, which I have to say was probably the highlight of the entire search. The phone was answered by a woman who barely spoke English, so I carefully explained the situation to her and asked if anyone had found a diamond ring. She listened intently, then said something incomprehensible in another language. I said "I beg your pardon?", but by that time she'd already gone. Fortunately she passed the phone to someone whose level of English enabled her to string together a rudimentary sentence, so I explained the problem to this second lady, who listened in silence before responding with...


For my third attempt I kept the story to words of one syllable, and having listened to my heartfelt plea for help, and sensed the desperation in my voice, the woman shouted "Phone back in morning!" and slammed the phone down. It wasn't quite the response I wanted, but let's face it, if your customer service skills were any good, you wouldn't be doing the night shift at a service station. This time last week she was probably clinging to the back of the Eurostar.

So at 1:15am, after further fruitless searching and a shot of caffeine to wake me up, I got in the car and drove all the way back up the A23 to Pease Pottage services to search the car park in the middle of the night. There was no diamond ring, but I did find a 5p piece, so it wasn't a wasted journey.

The search continued until 4am, then was postponed until first light, when I took everything out of my car in the middle of a snow storm. Thursday was spent co-ordinating the English-speaking employees of Pease Pottage, the AA, and the police forces of Horley, Crawley and Brighton, but all to no avail. We took Lisa's mother to Hove dog track on Thursday night where, in the middle of race 4, I received a phone call on my mobile from Tony, the AA man who'd rescued us from the M23. He'd turned his cab upside down but found nothing.

Friday was spent checking with our insurance companies, and discovering that neither of us were covered. You have to pay extra for a home contents policy which includes the loss of valuables, and until last week neither of us owned anything worth more than a fiver, so naturally we didn't have that level of cover. I wish I really had bought a cubic zirconia in stainless steel now. But still, if you've got a metal detector and you fancy a half-carat diamond in white gold, try the ditches down the M23.


Phil said...

Phil, usually there's some measure of pleasure
waiting at the end of one of your tales but (apart from the 5p piece,
obviously) this one really is heart-wrenching. 
I have, as it happens, got a metal detector,
if you'd like to borrow it.
06 January 2008, 15:06:53

Thanks Dave. Next time you come down to visit,
maybe you could stop on the hard shoulder and have a quick look. :+:

06 January 2008, 15:20:14PhilP.S. I like the phrase "measure of
pleasure". I'll have to start using that. :+:06 January 2008, 15:21:39LisaIt's painful to read as I'd formed quite an
attachment. I've managed to hold onto my senses longer than the ring and
they're not entirely stable at the best of times.06 January 2008, 15:41:41ZI'm so sorry. That really is a dismal tale.
Right up to the end, I hoped something wonderful would happen and it'd turn up.
I'd still consider giving your cat a laxative and examining the results
carefully.06 January 2008, 16:52:38PhilFunnily enough, I have checked the
litter tray. Twice in fact. Frankly, twenty-four hours into the search, I was
willing to look anywhere. I was even tempted to grab a torch and give
Lisa some kind of internal examination. Actually I still haven't ruled that one
out.06 January 2008, 19:34:57DaveTake the u-bend off every sink in your flat
and at Pease Pottage services. Women apparently take rings off to wash their
hands, and they fall down plug-holes (the rings, not the women).06 January 2008, 19:55:47Phil's MumI'm still hoping that someone has picked it up
and hasn't yet had time to take it to a police station. But perhaps I'm just
naive. Your niece found a £20 note in the front garden and took it to the
police, so there are still some honest people around!06 January 2008, 21:39:28Phil's MumFailing all else, we could start a "New
Ring for Lisa Fund". I've got a very nice M & S coat I could sell for
it.06 January 2008, 21:45:18KathyThe ring looks loose in the picture. Maybe it
fell off. Look inside her coat lining or purse lining or any where she may have
taken off her gloves. Strip the bed and shake the blankets. If you charged the
ring on your credit card, maybe you're covered. I also lost my diamond
engagement ring before my wedding and here it is over 20 years later and we're
still happily married. Pray to St. Anthony.07 January 2008, 01:36:57DaveThe credit card tip might be useful - they do
usually include free insurance on things you buy with the card. Worth asking,

Unless you did get it from the pound shop,
obviously.07 January 2008, 07:51:11PhilSadly I'm too impoverished for major banks to
trust me with a credit card, so I only have debit cards. And even so, any
insurance would probably have expired - I bought the ring a while ago, and was
waiting until I had enough money to buy the ingredients for gingerbread.07 January 2008, 08:14:53'old'
friend from BexhillPhil & Lisa

I can't tell you how sorry I am. Like Dave, I
too was waiting for a happy punch-line. Perhaps your mum's idea isn't such a
bad one!07 January 2008, 13:35:49DashPhil & Lisa, I'm so, so sorry to hear about this. It's
dreadful. Let me know if you start a fund for a new one - I know a vicar we can
raffle. I think he is house-trained. He might not raise much money but it's a
start! Dash x09 January 2008, 02:42:56ClivePhil - Your stories always have a funny
punchline, even if it's not it the same posting. So I live in hope that within days we'll read
some hilarious tale involving either i) - an expensive veterinary bill, ii) - a
trip to A&E or iii) - A phone call in broken English from Pease Pottage. However it ends, we wait for the happy ending.11 January 2008, 07:45:37