A Very British Alert

This last weekend was a planned hermit weekend. I was feeling tired after inheriting my colleague’s cold germs (goody gumdrops) and was looking forward to convalescing aka mooching in my pyjamas, working on my sewing project and just generally being quiet.

I was succeeding in said weekend plan up until Saturday afternoon. I had just finished boiling some sweetcorn and had sat down to enjoy Silver Linings Playbook. My fingers were suitably greasy with melted butter when our building’s fire alarm sounded. After regaining my heart beat, I waited to hear if any other doors were opening or if any of the other people (whom I had heard arriving and stomping up the stairs earlier) would bother to come out. All I heard was the screaming alarm.

In a very disgruntled manner, even though nobody could see I still felt it necessary to emphasise how flabbergasted I felt (anyone getting in between me and my Bradley Cooper appreciation time has it coming) , I changed out of my pjs and went down to check out the alarm unit. My idea of becoming toast-like involves a park, or a beach or pool and a drink that could hold an umbrella – not burning drywall – as appears to be the case for other residents of the building…

Reading instructions that are not comprehensive and might as well be ‘in the original Swedish’ whilst a mechanical noise designed to deafen those in the next road repeats in your ears is incredibly frustrating. Instructions like ‘set unit to access mode 2, as above’ are not helpful when there is no ‘above’ section to refer to. Also, reading that a supposed dedicated fire person will have written instructions and that person should carry out those instructions is not at all useful.

I pushed a bunch of buttons and reduced the alarm to an annoying beeping sound instead. I checked all the alarm points in the general stairwell up to the top floor and nothing was broken. I couldn’t smell or see any smoke, but I did hear some people talking in one of the top floor flats. Evidently some drywall tan enthusiasts. I couldn’t see what else could be done so I went back to my flat and resumed film and food.

Five minutes later the alarm sounded again. Feeling totally out of my depth and hoping maybe this time someone would at least be curious enough to emerge and perhaps spot something in the instructions that I had missed, I went back down. Left alone again I pushed another series of buttons, turned the unit off and on again and eventually (by some miracle) managed to stop the noise and the beeping. Nervously I went back upstairs scared that I was going to be forced to be Fire Marshall Bill every ten minutes, and if so where could I go to escape the rest of the afternoon.

To my relief, that was it. Not another peep, or wail. I felt obliged to inform the landlord, which I have done, and now their electrician wishes to come have a look but can’t gain access to the building cause ‘nobody is home’. Of course not. I feel I’ve done my bit in the non-fire saga.

Shane summarised it for me the next day – ‘I’ll only get out of bed for a fireman’. I feel my halo is just a tad shinier.