Lisa woke me up at around 5 am this morning with the question; “what’s that beeping noise?”
She was right to ask. It was actually two beeping noises, running out of sync with one another, blaring out discordantly and making a right racket in doing so. For a moment, I thought it was the timer on the cooker having a fit – had I bumped it with my hip while cooking? Looking back, it sounded nothing like it, but I was sleepy and you’ve got to check the obvious options.
It wasn’t the cooker. Smoke alarm, I thought, and not ours. So off I went into the stairwell, trying to work out where the hell the noise was coming from. One floor up, a door along, I find the source. There’s no smoke, no heat, nobody else in the building seems to be up or about – I knock on the door…and suddenly realise I’m knocking on a stranger’s door at 5 am in just my boxer shorts. A woman answers, her face screwed up in pained apology. With the door open, the noise is incredible.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know how to turn it off. There’s no fire. It says turn off the power before disconnecting, but I turned it off and it’s still making a noise.”
“Would you mind if I try?”
So I go into a total stranger’s flat, wearing just my pants, and stand on a chair in the middle of her open-plan kitchen with this insanely loud noise going off in my face, trying to lever the smoke alarm off of its ceiling mount.
“It says to turn the mains off – what if you get electrocuted?”
Then I’ll die wearing just my pants, standing on a stool in some random woman’s flat, thanks for asking, I think but fail to say. It would be rude, and the pants comment would draw attention to my unclothed state, which is not wise considering my waist is at her eye level.
There’s a tab on the side of the smoke detector. Press, lift, twist and heave, and off it comes. The sound dies away. I look at the back of the detector, and there’s a lot of brown staining on the visible sections of circuit board.
“Have you had a flood?”
“Yes, I redid the ceiling about a month ago.”
“That explains it. Looks like your smoke detector was more likely to catch fire than detect smoke.”
“Oh. Thanks ever so much for that. You’re a hero.”
“Aye, well, bye now.”
And I stomped off back down to the flat and back to bed.