On Sunday 10 January 2010, I phoned the Old Man to supervise his evening medication. As we talked, I could hear a beeping noise in the background.
“What’s that beep?” I asked.
“It’s the TV.”
We interrupted our conversation, and the Old Man tried to stop the noise, but soon admitted failure. Then I realised:
“It’s your smoke-alarm!”
The Old Man’s house has two smoke-alarms, one near the bottom of the stairs and one outside his bedroom. Both are mounted on the ceiling.
I told the Old Man to go into the kitchen and find out whether anything was burning there.
Several times the beeping stopped, then restarted. I was contemplating phoning Mrs CJ and asking her to dial 999. Then the beeping stopped for good, and the Old Man returned to the phone.
The story he told me was that he had, earlier, grilled some toast for his supper, but nothing was now cooking or burning. He suggested that perhaps what had set off the smoke-alarm was that his woollen hat had got damp and he had left it out to dry.
[Original posting 19 January 2010]