Saturday, 17 September 2011

The Case of the Disappearing Underpants

The story you are about to read is true. No names have be changed to protect the innocent. It is not a coincidence if a real name has been used, and the facts, where stated, are verifiable ... I think.

My father-in-law is obsessed with the fact that some of his possessions are being stolen. The things that go 'missing' are not valuable. It is usually things like 2lb bags of sugar, yoghurts, biscuits, or health drinks. He 'knows' who the culprit is; it is a person he refers to as 'That Thieving B*st*rd Cowson T*rr*' (or TTBCT for short). Poor old TTBCT visits my father-in-law quite frequently and helps him with odd jobs like his shopping. He is well-meaning and tries to be helpful .... but his good intentions are not always appreciated.

About four weeks ago my father-in-law complained that almost all of his underpants had been 'stolen'. He immediately assumed that TTBCT was the culprit because he had just gone away on holiday and had probably taken them to use whilst he was away. Both my wife and I tried to reason with my father-in-law, and I made great efforts to get him to understand that no one would want to 'steal' his underpants. They were/are what I would describe as religious underpants ... very hol(e)y!

In order to put his mind at rest, my wife and I bought my father-in-law a whole new set of underpants ... and hoped that that would be an end to the problem.

It was not.

Today my wife and I went to buy a whole load of new linen and curtains for our bedroom. We got home at about 4.00pm, and within an hour my father-in-law had 'phoned to inform us that his new underpants were now missing, and the TTBCT must have been round and taken them. We asked when TTBCT had last visited him ... and were told that TTBCT had not been to see my father-in-law for at least four weeks. When we asked how TTBCT could have taken the underpants without entering the house, all my father-in-law would say was that he had searched high and low, but the underpants were missing ... and what were we going to do about it?

Our reply was ... we will search for them the next time we visit ... which will probably be later next week. In the meantime, if anyone has any ideas how to solve this classic 'locked room' mystery, please let me know. Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, and Sherlock Holmes are unavailable at the minute, so any assistance will be gratefully received.

PS. Yes, my life is this surreal at times. Sometimes I think that wargaming is the only thing that is keeping me reasonably sane ... and I have some doubts about how sane I actually am!

16 comments:

  1. it's trolls although they normally only steal the left sock, this one must be expanding it's repertoire...that or your saintly father in-law is has lost it.....)

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  2. Bluebear Jeff,

    By 'laundry basket', I assume that you mean the pile of dirty clothes on the armchair in his bedroom?

    He tells me that he has been through the pile ... but as his eyesight is not very good, he could easily have missed them.

    All the best,

    Bob

    PS. I also asked him to check inside his washing machine and tumble dryer as well, and he tells me that they are empty.

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  3. Bob

    It's not about the underpants or sugar, it's about the attention he gets from his family. He is telling you he misses having you guys around and wants to see you again. He will deny it probably if you raise this directly with him though.

    If you could buy him something like a new mattress or chair that most likely will not go missing, only the little things will, and that may pacify him somewhat. But I am a stranger to your family and may well be wrong although I have seen something similar myself.

    Hope this helps.

    Regards

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  4. Arthur,

    I suspect that you are almost 100% correct. The problem is that besides being deaf (he has hearing aids but refuses to use them even though we supply him with plenty of batteries) his eyesight is also very bad. He has new glasses, but does not like wearing them ... and without his glasses he cannot see anything clearly if at all. Some time ago his debit card was 'stolen'; I found it on the floor of his bedroom where he had dropped it. He then 'lost' the keys to his mobility scooter; I found them under the remote control to the garage doors ... where he had put the keys after he had parked the scooter in the garage. In both cases he stood next to me whilst I 'searched' ... and could not see either the debit card or the keys.

    This interesting thing is that when we offer to help him with things like his bank account and bills, he refuses our help ... except when it suits him. Until recently he has steadfastly refused to accept that he cannot cope on his own. It was only when we had been on holiday for three weeks that he changed his mind.

    He is a proud man who cannot accept that at the age of 96 he is not longer able to do the things he could do twenty years ago.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  5. @ Don M- Trolls steal the right sock, not the left.

    It is after all, the RIGHT sock.

    It does no good wearing them on the other foot, the trolls know which is which...

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  6. Dom M,

    I suspect that when we next visit him and search for the 'missing' underpants, we will find them. That has happened when things other than food have gone missing before. I suspect that the 'missing' food has either been eaten or thrown away ... and that he has forgotten what he has done with it.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  7. Captain Oblivious,

    I had no idea that trolls could tell left from right ... well, judging by some of the recent reports in the news, some trolls certainly don't know right from wrong!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  8. Bob,

    Perhaps you should tell him it's a sign from God that he should henceforth go commando.

    Chris

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  9. Bob - just be thankful you are now retired and have more time available to devote to the mystery.. :o)))

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  10. Chris,

    I cannot comment as the thought of him actually doing that sends a shiver down my spine!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  11. This sad story reminded me of my late mother when she was in the early stages of dementia, she was constantly losing stuff and claiming that the "others" in the house had stolen it. We had brought her to live with us after my father died so the only "others" were my wife and I, that's when we realised there might be a problem.

    Typically she would come down in the morning saying she had lost her glasses, we knew she'd had them the night before and we'd turn her room upside down searching for them but without success, then three days later she'd come down wearing them. We never did figure out what had happened to them!

    At your FiL's great age a bit of memory lapse or confusion is probably not unusual.

    Regards, Brian

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  12. Steve-the-Wargamer,

    That is exactly why I retired ... to sort out mysteries like this!

    Perhaps I could become a real-life version of Dirk Gently?

    All the best,

    Bob

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  13. Brian,

    Thanks for your comment.

    Having had to deal with my own father's slow decline into dementia, I know exactly what you mean. My father-in-law is not exhibiting the same symptoms as my father did, but it is something that my wife and I are every watchful for.

    I suspect that these incidents are more an attempt to gain some attention than a reflection of any mental diminution. It does not help that he will not wear his hearing aids or his glasses, thus rendering himself almost deaf and blind.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  14. This sounds like a job for Jonathan Creek to me... He'll sort this out with nothing more than a small pencil, a baffled look and a large dose of luck.

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  15. Steve's Wargame Stuff,

    You are quite right. This is exactly the sort of mystery Jonathan Creek would be able to solve!

    All the best,

    Bob

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