Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Paws for Thought

This past week has been somewhat frenetic - lots of rushing around whilst trying to keep the creativity flowing. However amongst the whirlwind of Doing, several events occurred that brought about a reality check and a reminder that despite whirling from one thing to another, frequently ungrounded - with my head in the clouds - priorities must be made and time taken for what might seem at the time to be mundane and uninteresting tasks but what are unerringly of far greater importance than any soaping, sewing, sanding (at the restoration project) or box making.

Earlier on this year, we had the unwelcome presence of unsolicited visitors to the allotments; an eventuality that caused great annoyance to all those affected by their pilfering of our produce. It therefore came as a serious upset when that unpleasantness ventured closer to home.

It was the start of the week - the evenings are drawing in early and night falls quickly. The weather; following an brief respite at the weekend, had deteriorated and dark rain-filled clouds made the night sky appear even blacker. Indoors, curtains pulled tightly kept out the wintery elements; as Monty and Lucie curled up into their fleecy blankets in the hall, I snuggled down under a cosy duvet looking forward to listening to the wind howl and the heavy raindrops lash against the window.

After finishing off my Georgette Heyer novel - lovely, uncomplicated comfort reading - the equivalent to a hot chocolate before bed and (prior to the following occurrences) almost always guaranteed to induce a restful sleep, I turned out the light and fell easily into a deep sleep. 

I woke with a jolt several hours later, my nerves - always a little on the fraught side, caused my heart to beat faster. A noise had woken me suddenly out of a deep sleep! I strained my ears and listened, trying to calm my thumping heartbeat. The wind shrieked relentlessly through the trees outside and I heard the bang of a gate slamming as a strong gust of wind caught it. I relaxed - it was just the storm. Drowsily I drifted back into sleep; as I slipped deeper into unconsciousness another noise vaguely registered in my mind - this time of scraping, and ....... was that a dog barking?? However sleep overcame me completely and I slept peacefully until the alarm sounded the next morning.

The storm had abated, although a blustery wind whipped up the autumn leaves torn from the tree branches during last night's storm. The first indication I had of anything untoward was upon hearing the same banging noise as I had heard during the night. It was my garden gate! The gate which was most definitely closed tightly the night before. Tentatively and slightly perturbed I entered the garden. The signs were obvious - the wind was not the only visitor during the night. It was not the wind that was responsible for lifting down the heavy terracotta window boxes from the window sills, (the night time scraping noise)

(window boxes filled with the ivy leaved trailing geraniums that earlier on in the year the Pearly Queen and I gleefully collected as part of a prize for our allotments.)  

nor for the placing of the wrought iron garden chairs in the flower beds directly beneath the windows.

I did not believe either that it was the window cleaner who was responsible. Under the cover of darkness and the storm - Prowlers had intruded closer than was comfortable.  

Thankfully there did not seem to be anything else amiss. I later found out that there had been four of them and possibly the barking of a neighbour's dog had prevented anything worse from happening. Unsurprisingly this incident unnerved me greatly and after notifying the police additional security measures were implemented.

As a result of this, my sleeping suffered and for the next few nights I woke at even the faintest jingle of Lucie's bell. By mid-week I was exhausted. Monty became fed up with being disturbed by my getting up throughout the night to check on imaginary noises and sadly moved out, taking up residence with the neighbour who is Lucie's rightful owner. It was thus that suffering from severe sleep deprivation and after having been woken abruptly envisaging another prowler, by an uncharacteristic clamour from Percy who after several weeks of absence had taken advantage of Monty's leaving to re-establish his claim upon my home, that I took two headache tablets and fell into a deeply exhausted sleep.

Percy the Prowler?

From far away I became aware of a shrill resonating sound filtering into my dream. The sound reverberated on and on, until it pulled me from the depths of unconsciousness back to the familiar surroundings of my bedroom.

A new noise, on top of the squeal that I had now identified as the sound of a smoke alarm - that of the scream of sirens and then a flashing blue light penetrating through the Faded Flowers linen fabric of the bedroom curtains.

I was fully awake in an instance, the drowsiness induced by the tablets gone. Leaping up out of bed with more dexterity than I would when the alarm clock goes off, I pulled the curtains aside and my worst fears were realised when I saw the fire engine.

After that everything was a bit of a blur, but thanks to an electric smoke alarm (I was told afterwards that a battery one would not have detected the smoke outside); the vigilance of my neighbour and the prompt action of the fire brigade, - property and most importantly - life was spared. Wires inside the external mains electricity meter box had shorted and caught fire. As all the smoke was outside it was only thanks to my neighbour hearing the sound of the smoke alarm and coming to investigate, that the fire was discovered before it was too late. 

Lurking behind the sofa

Although I do wonder whether the racket from Percy was his way of trying to tell me something was wrong.

So there we are, a rather eventful week; but definitely a reminder to me not to get so lost in the clouds that practicalities (including checking the smoke alarm) get forgotten about!


To fully complete the tale, I must tell you that over the next couple of days life resumed a pattern of normality. My sleeping was improving and Monty had moved back in (of Percy there was no sign). All was quiet until that is - when at 4am this morning, the pitter patter of paws across the floor woke me and I could see Lucie pacing dimly in the shadowy light of my bedroom. 

Clever Lucie

I watched her padding to the bed and back to the door, where she paused and turning to see if I was watching her, she emitted a loud hiss.

OH NO! What was wrong now?

I held my breath and listened as the pitter patter, pitter patter grew louder. But Lucie hadn't moved, so even though still foggy with sleep, I deduced that it wasn't her paws making the noise. Pitter patter, pitter patter.........

or wait a moment........

could it possibly be DRIP DROP, DRIP DROP and not the sound of paws that I could hear?

I jumped out of bed, (my agility has increased with all the speedy exits that I have been making from bed recently) and raced to the airing cupboard where the sound was coming from. Monty - lying soporifically in his sleepy stupor on the rocking chair, opened one eye balefully and glared at me in disgust for waking him yet again.

A pool of water had gathered and when I wrenched the door open a deluge descended from above. In my haste to turn off the stopcock, I inadvertently turned it the wrong way, causing a torrent of water to cascade through the ceiling and down the walls. The ceiling sagged and towels and bed-linen were saturated, however once I had stopped panicking and managed to turn the stopcock off the water ceased. 

They say things happen in threes - well I can only hope that this burst pipe is the very last of my 3 dramas!

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