Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Some others do 'ave 'em.

On my third night of not drinking Mike and Row arrive for Kelly's "Months Mind". I'm on the Camomile. We'd watched an episode of "Keep it the Family", Mike experiencing a Proustian rush at the "London Weekend Television" logo and the general squonking-sax brilliance of the theme tune, (Row marvelled at Robert Gillespie's "irreverent" performance and welter of dad-gags). We were just about to put "Dead of Night" on when the lights went out. We wandered around, using our phones as torches, checking to see if it was just us but no, it was a general power-cut, everybody's lights were out. We had a tube of lavender flavoured t-lights but a quick rummage through my drawers revealed no lighter and no matches. And yet again an electric hob proves absolutely useless.

But we needn't have worried the lights came on after ten minutes. Unfortunately that mean't that every electrical device in the house reset itself, including the burglar alarm that I didn't know existed. It started emitting a small beep so we went to investigate and discovered it required a four number pin: a pin I didn't have. We started randomly pressing buttons, attempting to rend some sense from the mystifying hieroglyphics. Obviously it didn't work. Then something that sounded like a car alarm went off. It wasn't a car alarm, it was the outside alarm going off, ringing round the Mews. I run to the cork board looking for any information that the landlord David had left us. There is some stuff about the boiler and a gnomic post-it note about starting the cooker. But nothing about an alarm. We dig around under the stairs looking for a way to turn it off - the alarm is an add-on to the lights. Mike trips the switch and we are plunged into darkness and the alarm goes off - inside the house. We realise, with mounting horror, that the outside alarm is still ringing. We re-trip the switch and the lights come back on. I ring the land-lord. Can't get him. I ring him again and he answers sounding groggy, but not put out. He doesn't know the pin number either. He rings Michael, my next door neighbour, who lived in the house for a while, and of all of us has the best chance of knowing the code. I come back into the living room and the police have arrived.

They are very keen to inform me that they are here for security reasons - nobody has made a complaint - the power-cut has set off alarms all over the place. They fanny around, making me take all of the stuff my cupboards, poking at the fuses, requesting a screw-driver I don't have. The other one hangs back, prodding at the alarm. David rings back. Michael, the next door neighbour, is in Canada. And doesn't know the code either.

The police leave. We are left with the alarm and no way to shut it off. The doorbell rings. I assume it is a furious neighbour. It isn't - it is David the landlord in his shorts. He thinks he left the pin-code in the cutlery drawer (!): he hasn't. I try the lower drawer, still full of Kelly's drugs, nothing there either. He takes an executive decision and starts sawing through the wire into the alarm. Alarmed Mike asks if I have any rubber gloves. I say "I do, but you're not going to like it," thinking that the only rubber gloves I have are Kelly's scary monster hands. David doesn't give a shit, he carries on sawing through the wires with his keys. The alarm stops. Down stairs; there is another one upstairs in my bedroom, the bedroom that is unchanged since Kelly left to go into hospital. It is a tip and this is the only time my landlord has seen it. He doesn't care and starts sawing away. The alarms are off, bare wires hanging out of them.

David leaves, offering his condolences on the door-step. I decide to have a glass of wine.


  1. Oh John. Sounds as if your guests went to great lengths to avoid another episode of 'Keep it in the Family' (which by the way, was the subject of one of the first conversations I ever had with you way back in the 90s).
    I feel like having a glass of wine just reading this. I'm very glad you weren't alone.

  2. This made me laugh and pleased I was not next door. If they are there still, say hello to Row and Mike and that I missed them on Sat and tell Row I am transmitting her a big kiss but want wine with her soon. But if they are gone, never mind.

  3. hi bernie. they are long gone but i will kiss them all up anyway.