How appropriate, when the defibrillator has been nicked…
How appropriate, when the defibrillator has been nicked…
Once again, the nightmarish scenes predicted by Met Eireann materialised, and this is the sorry spectacle that awaited in the driveway this morning: the car was well and truly stuck in snow drifts.
Thankfully I was able to cram 4 sliced pans under each wheel and gained traction. That panic buying with the rest of the Dublin population yesterday was well worth it!
Braving the 0 °C temperature to proceed to the wedging of the bread under the pneumatic implements was no small feat. Imagine that, zero degrees, in February?!?!
I had to wear gloves, for fuck sake. And a scarf!
As I type hundreds of school principals around the country have the right index finger on the panic button, ready to press it as soon as three snowflakes coalesce in the school yard, to immediately (and indefinitely) shut the schools down. For health and safety reasons. Obviously.
I guess that we have the mass media, and the mass hysteria, that we deserve.
We make it easy for them. We love nothing better than to click on links of promised doom, or the latest Orange Man imbecilic quote, or hilarious videos of farting pandas.
We are happy to allow them broadcast their alarmist crap in our living rooms, on our radios in our car, in our few surviving daily newspapers.
They feed us the shite we thrive on.
It takes two to tango.
It wasn’t the initial disappearance of all internet connectivity in itself that wiped out the human race.
Granted, the sudden annihilation of money caused riots that led to the early demise of billions of individuals. The very small percentage of paper money that still existed rapidly lost all meaning.
The few survivors who were able to reinstate a barter system were in turn severely affected by the food shortages and pandemics.
But the human race was not at that stage completely extinguished.
What really hammered the nail in the coffin of this species on the brink of extinction was the gradual realisation that they would never be able, ever again, to stream funny videos of kittens falling in a fish tank or brawling Russian drivers caught on dashcam.
Mass suicides brought an end to lives that were no longer worth living.
The Irritating Alarm Research Centre.
Some secret underground lab, somewhere in County Leitrim.
26 September 2017
– Boss! Boss! That’s it! The new prototype is ready. I’m so very excited! What shall we call it? How about ‘The First False Alert at 3 AM’?
– God no, Donnacha, absolutely not. Some of the more discerning consumers out there could smell a rat. No, no, remember, we flog these as safety devices, don’t you forget! Let’s opt for a more innocuous ‘First Alert’. Full stop. But with the little R in a circle, to show we have registered it as our baby.
– Oh boss, that is so totally brilliant. They totally won’t see it coming. ‘First Alert’ Full stop. So totally brilliant!
– I know Donnacha, I know. Years of experience you see… Talking about experience, are you sure that you have completed the full testing script?
– Yes, boss. I have tested it over and over. This is our masterpiece.
– Tell me about the shrill alarm sound.
– 85 db, boss. Enough to get your eardrums bleeding within 30 seconds!
– Great, how about the little LED light?
– Bright red, boss. 5 lumen this time. The old model, at 2 lumen, was not quite annoying enough during those long nights of insomnia when the non-sleeper counts the intervals between the little red flashes. I have also totally altered the sequence, to really mess up their sleep-deprived little heads. It can be anything between 7 and 45 seconds, in a totally random order!
– Nice one, my evil and talented young assistant. Tell me about the touch of genius though, the low battery indicator, tell me without delay!
– We are really going to drive them nuts with that one, boss. We’ve managed to create a pitiful short 0.25 second bleat reminiscent of the baby lamb dying of hypothermia in the Scottish hills on a cold October night. It is both weak and impossible not to hear. And the best of all is that you cannot pin point its location.
– Are you absolutely certain Donnacha?
– Beyond the shadow of a doubt, boss. We have tested it on lab rats for the last 18 months. They all eventually die of stress. With four alarms in the house, they can never tell which one is emitting the low-battery sounds.
– What about the intervals? Not too close I hope.
– Fat chance, boss! We’ve learned from our past mistakes. We shall not repeat the fiasco of the 2012 Houseguard Essential Alarm. No, this time the low-battery sounds come at precisely 17 minute intervals. For the first one, the sleeper wakes up, without being entirely sure if he dreamt of a little lamb dying in the Scottish hills and calling for its mothers or not. 17 minutes later, he definitely hears it. And he knows that it is not a dying lamb, but one of the fire alarms. His wife asks him to do something about it. 17 minutes later, they both hear it, and they are quite sure that it comes from the one on the first floor landing. She tells him to go and sort it out. But it’s cold, and he cannot drag himself out of bed. 17 minutes later, he wonders if it is the one on the first floor landing or the one in the attic room. The kids have woken up too. His wife demands that he does something about it as it cannot go on all night. He puts on his pyjama trousers, and goes and wait below the fire alarm on the first floor landing. He sits on the carpet and wraps himself in his bathrobe. He falls asleep while sitting. At the next bleat, he wakes with a start and he is quite certain that it comes from the attic room. He goes and takes position in the attic room. He does not fall asleep this time. He is fully awake as he is too cold. And his wife his giving out from the bedroom below, he can hear her. And the kids are awake too. One of them is crying that he is very tired and he will not be able to go to school tomorrow.
– Brilliant Donnacha, brilliant, I feel like I am there with them, watching their marriage disintegrate at 3 AM, brilliant! Go on, please go on!
– At the next bleat, he is 100% certain that it is coming from the fire alarm in the attic room. He was there, just below, waiting for it. He goes downstairs to get the EUR16 Ikea footstool, bring it up to the attic room, opens up the shaggin alarm, breaks a bracket in the process but he doesn’t give a fuck, he is cold and exhausted and his wife is giving out in the bedroom below, so he snatches the 9v battery off. Victory. He goes back to bed. There is still a little bit of body heat under the duvet on his side of the bed. It is now 4.10 AM, he can manage another two hours sleep before his alarm goes off, if he can go back to sleep straight away. He can. He is drowsy. He is warm. His wife has finally just stopped giving out…
– And he goes back to sleep?
– No! Because just when he’s fallen back to sleep… ‘Bleat’! It’s the fire alarm on the landing after all! His wife goes ballistic. All three kids are now crying. He wishes that he was dead.
– Genius Donnacha, genius! And are you absolutely sure that the low-battery bleat cannot go off during the day? At a quiet time, when people could hear it, and change the battery?
– Not a chance. This time we have fitted to hidden sensors on the device. They calculate with only a 0.02% error marging the midway point between the switching off of the light in the marital bedroom and the first flushing of the toilet after the first morning wee in the household. It is foolproof, it can only happen in the dead of the night.
– Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant! What are we waiting for?! We should market the First Alert right away!
– We have, boss. They went on the shelves this morning. And I learned from a reliable source that the first unit was sold to a certain mememe2U in Argos Dun Laoghaire at 11am.
It didn’t start well.
Some petty consular agent with a very different understanding of the French language to mine was going to deny me my civic rights. No way Jose!
Aux armes citoyens! My (civic) Liberty shall not be denied, I demand my Equality. But you can keep your Fraternity. I don’t want you as a brother, sister!
I was redirected to the Service Contentieux (you know you are in a French embassy when the complaints department is as big as the passport office) but knew I would get the same misinterpretation as to what constitutes a valid form of identity. My Irish driver’s licence fits all the criteria set out by them: an official document, delivered by a Member State of the E.U. with my name, photograph, date and place of birth. Why the fuck would you list it as a valid form of ID if on the day you will only accept a French passport or ID card (“même périmés”, I wouldn’t want to put that to the test… Might actually try in two weeks’ time).
I was lucky to spot the head honcho himself who was doing a bit of PR by taking the details of some of the thousands of voters (I am not exaggerating) who each queued for about two hours to vote.
I pleaded my case to Monsieur l’Ambassadeur, explained that this was not just a case of administrative misinterpretation (pettiness is a perk of the job for underpaid consular agents) but a much more serious case of denial of a fundamental civic right, as enshrined in the statute of the Republic.
I was upgraded to the top of the queue at the Service du Contentieux (my apologies to the other raleurs) with an express recommendation from the boss man that my little problem be addressed asap.
They still wouldn’t accept my perfectly valid Irish driver’s licence but issued me on the spot with a cute little Carte Consulaire, with a photograph of me that dates from twenty years ago when I was 20 kilos slimmer and wearing my cool leather jacket bought in Texas (that’s what they had on file).
I happily rejoined the snaking queue, and 90 minutes later voted for the guy I don’t like to try and stop the woman I abhor.
I discovered during the process that the under two years old are not very keen on civic practices. Or long snaking queues. There were a few meltdowns. And some very very stressed parents.
Anywaym, it’s done. Round one.
Back to the same craic in two weeks’ time. I think I’ll bring my Carte d’Identite from 1982 with me. The one that expired in 1992. It says on the form that it is a valid form of ID…
Spent two hours of my life (that I will never get back) watching the final address of the 11 candidates for the French presidential election.
Only a sprinkle of them actually said something. And an even smaller number actually said something that I would tend to agree with.
And none of them could remotely implement what they were talking about. None of the one I would tend to agree with, if pushed.
So nothing new there.
Except for the dangerous one. Very scary.
I have a profound dislike for the muppet I am going to vote for. In an attempt to stop the one I abhor.
Plan B is to leg it. Where to, I have no idea. I will just join the thousands of other headless chicken running around flapping their wings. Because we’re fucked. Running around with other headless chickens.
I’ll be good at it. The Mistake Factory has prepared me well.
in contemporary Ireland.