I’m a peer, get me out of here….

015Yesterday did not quite go as planned.  I was getting ready to go to a meeting shortly before noon.  Another peer left the office and, apparently without realising I was still working at my desk, locked the door behind her.  Realising I was locked in, I went to unlock the door ready to go to my meeting.  I put the key in the lock, turned it – and as I did so it broke and jammed in the lock.  I was stuck in the office.  There was no other means of exit.

I ‘phoned security, but because the key was stuck in the lock the security guard who came could not unlock the door from the other side.   Engineers were summoned.   When the engineers arrived, they encountered the same problems.  I had visions of it being necessary to break down the door – a rather substantial one (see picture) – or cutting the lock out.  I could see myself stuck for hours.  I was asked if I could extract the key.  Eventually, I managed to apply sufficient force to the head of the key to turn it and break the remaining links and extract what remained of it.  The engineers then managed to force the lock and open the door.  This was, to put it mildly, a relief.   The engineer who did the principal work then took the lock out and dismantled it prior to replacing it.  In the lock, he found not only the remains of my key but of other keys as well!

Almost forty years ago, when I was at Sheffield, I had a similar incident.  The door to my office jammed.  On that occasion, I was on the outside and not the inside: that was just as well, as my office was on the tenth floor and there was no other exit.   It took until the next day to get the door opened.  That memory did come back to me.  However, on this occasion, it was all over within the hour.

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About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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8 Responses to I’m a peer, get me out of here….

  1. Jonathan says:

    One question that comes to mind is what happens in an emergency if there’s only one exit? Both in the Lords, but more importantly in your former 10th floor office!

  2. franksummers3ba says:

    LN,
    I see a pattern. The prison posting leads nicely into the locked in the office posting and so forth. I know you are knowledgeable about Americana but if you are going to go down this career path perhaps I can get you a book on Houdini and his work in the American showbiz scene.. “Lord Norton the Magnificent” may be the wave of the future. Constitutional,law lectures delivered by a peer who has just shed four set of chains and escaped an icy pond might bring a whole new audience to many issues you discuss and write about. I am interested to see how this new part of your life developes,,

  3. maude elwes says:

    I would immediately suspect sabotage. Someone didn’t want you to be able to turn up or perform whatever task they needed to block.

    How could the other person you share with not have seen you at your desk? Unless, of course, the book pile obscured the vision.

    Although I have a friend who swears that the psyche works to produce an outcome others would not envisage. And, as this had happened to you in a previous life, it appears your brain, both times, wanted an excuse not to do whatever was prevented by the barrier created.

  4. Croft says:

    I hope the baroness in question has made amends with some judicious tea and cake buying!

    • Lord Norton says:

      She was suitably distraught when another Baroness informed her what had transpired! However, I may suggest that we need a ready supply of biscuits just in case anyone gets trapped in the room again.

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