One of the four most popular phrases in our household is "Have you got my lighter?" The person asking is usually me but it can also be used by my partner on occasions.
Just as many things on my computer disappear into cyberspace never to emerge, so the great universal forces have a habit of absorbing certain material objects. Most notable of these objects is of course the second sock of a pair which gets swallowed by the washing machine or somewhere else in the washing process. Sets of keys are equally likely to find a fourth dimensional home as are the remote controls for televisions, video recorders and DVD players. The tops from ball point pens are the only plastic I know which not only bio-degrades but can do so in the twinkling of an eye. But in our household it is lighters that have the most magical properties.
Such is the scale of their disappearance that I am tempted to contact the Police. I have already been in touch with the Liverpool Echo but they spurned the item as not being newsworthy. Perhaps they are correct . After all, their Editor has the task of setting such disappearances against the bad news of occasional horrific murders and the good news of being City of Culture 2008. But surely someone should take an interest in where these lighters are going. Could they be heading for some enormous terrorist stockpile to be dropped by plane upon some unsuspecting factory like a Second World War incendiary? Or is there such a black market in lighters that one cannot pass the end of a dark alley in Liverpool's red light district without hearing the sound of 'Psst. Wanna buy a lighter?'
I contacted the local Search and Rescue buy they said lighters were not within their remit. No one, it seems, cares about my losses.
Interest was expressed by Flying Saucer Review - the international journal established in 1955 and read regularly by Prince Edinburgh. They rejected my proposed article but sent around a little green man with a hand-held machine that looked like a Geiger counter. He chuckled gleefully and spent ages in the utility room, emerging from there with 32 odd socks and an 1890s corset - don't ask! When asked about lighters he just chuckled again and went into the fridge never to emerge. I have written to Buckingham Palace to ask if HRH is prepared to send a search party for the little green man.
Nowadays when I go shopping and ask for a lighter the shop assistant usually asks "Disposable or refillable". Since they are rarely around long enough to be refilled and are quite capable of disposing of themselves I tend to just shrug and "Whatever!"
2 days ago