Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Syringes & sirens (2)

Peering through the kitchen window, the image of the boiling pan hit me. 

Shit. Crap. Holy smoke. So much smoke. 

Very black smoke. 


The alarm screamed at me. 

The baby screamed at me.

And for a moment I wondered what to do. 

I left her in the garden, so I could try to see what was going on.

Cautiously I opened the door, and thereafter every window, aware of an overwhelming synthetic smell. I felt sick. All of my calm had evaporated. And it would appear, so had the egg cup and plastic syringe. 

As I dialled the local fire brigade, I stopped feeling sick and started feeling embarrassed. You see a few weeks earlier...

...On maternity leave, passed my due date and bored, I'd signed up for a free home check by the fire brigade. Now what with my dad being a retired fireman and all, and me having been conditioned on all things fire hazard throughout childhood; I concluded my home was pretty safe. It would be a reassuring and sensible thing to do though, seeing as a new baby would soon be arriving. Also I supposed it might be entertaining; you know, men in uniform and all? And so, a couple of fireman had arrived and spent an hour taking me through various safety points. My home (moreover myself) passed with flying colours, and obviously with a ten out of ten score, as well as my brand new fire alarms in situ, nothing could possibly go wrong. Obviously.

The woman at Haslemere fire brigade answered the phone. I explained calmly again...'No I had not dialled 999 for the simple fact that there was no fire. There was no emergency. Everyone was safe. The only problem was that I had a smoke filled home. I simply needed - when possible - a single fireman to come round - no not a single fireman - (really - just who did she think I was?) No - a sole fireman. Just one. In a car to pop by with some sort of gadget. No. No. Some sort of gadget to monitor the atmosphere and tell me if it was toxic or not. If the air was still too thick for a new baby's lungs.'
'Did you say new baby?' 
'Yes I did.'
'Right I'm sending an appliance.'
'Do you mean a fire engine?'
'Yes I do.'
'I DEFINITELY DON'T need a fire engine. There's no fire.'

I heard its siren first. Of course it didn't take long. It was racing, blaring through the town, roaring closer. And then it was on the lane. Its blue light revolving. It was so loud. It arrived. And with it, the firemen. So many of them. And they ran so fast. Alert and ready for action. In the front garden. And up the path. And then, they stopped. (I was praying the two I'd joked with only a matter of weeks before, weren't amongst them. Surely I couldn't be that unlucky?) Nope. There was one of them. 

'What did you end up having?'
'A girl.'
'Lovely.'
'Are you both okay here?'
'Yes, we're fine. Thank you.' 
Silence. Even Esme wasn't screaming.
I stumbled on; 'Apparently, there is smoke without fire.' 
And then, under my breath with only my shame to accompany it; 
'I boiled a pan dry. And now its contents are circling inside my home.'

They were of course, extremely kind. But they hadn't been in my smoke-filled home for long, when quite suddenly all hell broke loose. One fireman talked to the radio in his hand; Alpha bravo charlie delta echo echo echo... 
...I boiled a pan dry, I boiled a pan dry, I boiled a pan...
'We've had a shout. It's an emergency. Sorry we've really got to go. We will come back again. But now, well, we have a real fire to attend.' 

And with that, the firemen raced once more to their appliance, and this time to the real thing. As they left I stood still, potentially crimson. I think I may even have matched the fire engine as it roared its way up the lane.

FOOTNOTE
I went back and sat in the car. I fed my baby and phoned Simon. I recounted my latest drama.

The fire brigade returned in time. With its men smelling like a real fire, like my dad often did when he came in from a shift, eyes all blood shot and hair prematurely grey, smoke-filled.


They monitored the air quality. It was fine. The house was fine. My baby was fine. I was fine. Well, almost fine. 
Truth be told, I still fight the urge to blush whenever I see a fire engine. And let me tell you: it is certainly NOT the uniform thing.