Last Saturday at 10:00 pm the smoke alarm directly above our heads in the sitting room suddenly shrieked with a piercing squeal. The battery needed replacing. Just as our energies were sleepily decelerating I had to fetch the step ladder from the garage and find the right screwdriver to reach into the alarm's aperture which supposedly simply releases it from the ceiling. To my exasperation, no matter how hard I tried with different approaches the alarm refused to budge. The shrieking continued to gain in pace. It echoed through our house and we were sure would penetrate our neighbour's sonic range too.
After more failed attempts I decided to knock on my neighbour's door and ask for help. I know it was late. I apologized! His wife, seeing my face assumed that at the least Carol had fallen down the stairs. It was obviously an anticlimax to hear that it was only a smoke alarm problem. Apparently, his alarms look very different. As a practical man he mounted the ladder and applied pressure in several attempts. Failure again. (I confess a little relief that it was not simply resolved). 'I may have to break it, ' he said. 'Go for it' urged Carol as the noise continued. Exerting a mighty thrust the alarm came away...broken. It was still shrieking in his hand until a new battery was fixed/ 'I think it might have been broken before' our neighbour said. Well, maybe.
Fitted back loosely the last three days have been mercifully quiet. But on Sunday some visitors for an evening meal were sitting underneath and to our horror it started again. 'Oh, no' we chorused, as we retold the story. Our friend smiled broadly. 'It's not that' he said. And then he scraped his rubber sole on the wood floor to make an identical shriek again.
I can't think of learning many lessons from this experience though we note how good neighbours are a blessing and some friends are mischievous.