It is 4 in the morning and I am wide awake. Exams, nope. Work, nope. Stress of any darned sort, nope. If I string together any more ‘nopes’, you shall bop me, I get it. Plus I should not be blathering at 4 bloody o’ clock. It is plain unhealthy.
We went to bed with the music of a duo of Croatian cellists in our ears, rather late. Just about three hours ago.
So when the fire alarm went off in the apartment, we leapt up bewildered. I managed to slip on my glasses sleepily and stumbled out of the bedroom only to catch my husband fanning the fire alarm detector in the apartment. Hmm an innate response given the fact that every other noon he does it – when it goes off as I cook. Yes, despite the might of the extractor in the kitchen.
In our apartment in Northampton, the fire alarm would go off in a trice. We would just stay in. Stupid, I know. Especially bearing in mind Grenfell Towers. But it had never gone off in the middle of the night – or early morning as it turns out. Today the alarm must have gone off around 3-ish. And it was dire. Imagine the loudest level you can put your alarm clock on. Now multiply that about roughly 50 times or so. That would be it. We rushed down the stairs and it was not too long before we were out with a fair number of the residents on the pavements outside. An odd sort of get-together, meet-your-neighbour kinda affair. In your pyjamas, hair dishevelled, wonderful morning breath in place – someone was even bare-chested in the chilly morning air. Good time to show off tattoos.
The dogs were going berserk. My legs were shaking from the sound. They must have been scared witless. One by one they streamed out of the building, the black Great Dane like a silent creature of the night, big and mournful, the tiny cute Corgi who wanted reassurance from all of us around him, the white poodle who sat shivering in his master’s arms, the golden retriever sitting between his master’s legs with his ears perked up and looking suspiciously calm. There were others too.
A window was flung open on the first floor, and a male voice informed us, ‘I called 911. They said we could stay in.’ Right. Never mind the sound in yours ears, intense enough to give you palpitations.
The morning air was chilly, and in about 10 minutes, three red fire trucks arrived. Is it an odd moment to slip it in that American fire trucks are glitzy? Four beefy firemen strapped up in their protective bulky gear and self-contained breathing apparatus trooped in. Then it took an eternity while they went around the building.
Meanwhile we chatted with a couple we know from a rooftop barbecue party. Then a woman with her little one. Her husband, a doctor, had refused to follow them out because he had to get up in an hour anyway to get to work. Heavens. I was genuinely impressed by his powers of endurance.
After their survey, the firemen finally shut the alarm 20 minutes before we were allowed back into the building. But I did manage to see an odd sight, a woman doing make-up in a pick-up truck right opposite the building. At 4 in the morning. What are the odds of that, eh?
P.S.: There are no photos. I had left my phone, wallet and fob inside because I had just about managed to take myself out.