Over the past few weekends I've been updating my staff and volunteers on what changes occurred in the house over the winter. As I demonstrated the new alarm system to one of my colleagues I was reminded of why we needed to upgrade it in the first place. Apart from the annoyance caused by repeated false alarms due to bat activity there was always a strong chance that I would sleep through it anyway. The old alarm system had one sounder, situated far away, over the front door, with many fire doors and walls between it and my bedroom.
One morning, not long after I first moved in, I came downstairs as usual, bleary-eyed and wild haired and went to punch in the deactivation code on the alarm panel.
"That's odd," I thought. "It says here, 'Alarm - Great Hall, 4.06am'".
I was confused. I hadn't heard the alarm. I went back upstairs and asked my husband if he'd heard anything during the night. He hadn't. Neither had my daughter.
I decided to shrug off this little mystery for the time being and head outside to the meeting that was scheduled on site, first thing. On my way to the door I spotted my mobile phone, which normally never leaves my side, but had been accidentally abandoned on the kitchen table at bedtime this once. Five missed calls. Bugger.
I stepped out into the early summer sunshine. Leaning on my gatepost was my Boss, rolling a fag.
"You sleep soundly, don't you?" he smiled.
"Um....yes, it seems I do! The alarm panel says the alarms went off last night."
"They did, yes. When the alarm company couldn't get hold of you, they phoned me."
"When I got down here, there were two policemen waiting at the gates. So, we all came down to see what the problem was."
"I never heard a thing!"
"Yeah, well we walked all round the house, shined the torch in the windows, and since we couldn't see you lying on the floor bleeding or anything we reckoned it must be a false alarm."
"Didn't the dog bark?"
"Nope, just wagged his tail and seemed happy to see us."
"Bloody freeloading mutt," I muttered.
"So, how much did you get through last night?"
"What? Ah. Oh. Hardly any. Honest. It's the sounder, it's not loud enough. I just slept through it all. We all did! I am so sorry you had to come down here at 4.30 in the morning."
"S'all right Doris, I was too hot at home in bed anyway."
He is truly a laid back man. My old boss, Agent Orange, would have given me a good few days of finger wagging and lecturing about how I really mustn't sleep through the alarms and how tired she was now, so if she suddenly just collapsed it would be all my fault, and so on and so forth. No wonder moving here felt like such a reward.
So, that is why we now have an alarm system with sounders galore. Strategically placed ones, designed to jerk me, flailing and mewling, into wakefulness, with their brain-buggering, ear-bleeding, impossible-to-ignore noise.