Mr B called me from my slumbers at three o’clock in the morning to tell me that somebody was in our house - he could hear talking. So far, so very alarming.
I was still half asleep when I stumbled downstairs, having been woken from a most fascinating dream, all about a dysfunctional family. No, not my family obviously - how rude to suggest such a thing! - but a family whose adventures
and exploits were The Stuff of which Soap Operas are Made. Unusually my part in the dream was merely as an observer; generally I am (as you would only expect of me) in the thick of the action. It is possible that my lack of a defining role in my dream didn’t
help me when it came to remembering what it was all about. Which was a great pity, given that it certainly had promise and might have made me a small fortune when, at some time in the future, it made it onto the small scr een where it would surely have rivalled
Eastenders and Emmerdale in its audience appeal.
Sorry, what’s that? Oh, you are worried about our talkative intruder. Are you also somewhat in awe
of the fact that I waded into the fray with no thought for my own personal safety? Did you even know I could be so brave?
I have to admit that even in my befuddled
state, I quickly realised that we were not actually being burgled. A winking light from the base unit of our community lifeline sitting on the hall table was the first clue, followed by an insistent voice declaiming, over and over again: “Warning! Your
telephone line is disconnected!” No wonder poor Mr B had had a fright. He hadn’t heard the message - just that somewhat scarily disembodied voice from somewhere downstairs.
We have had cause to call the kind people who staff the community lifeline call centre on several occasions over the last few years and we are always grateful for their reassuring presence at the end of the phone. Many years ago, I
was called upon in my job as Public Relations Officer at a local council to publicise our new lifeline call centre - at a time when community alarms were a relatively new service for the frail, the elderly and the disabled. I remember interviewing some of
the people answering the calls and being impressed at their stories of help provided “at the press of a button” to people who might otherwise have been, perhaps, left on the floor for hours as a result of a fall, suffering great distress or even
worse. One woman called accidentally every single evening, I was told, because when undressing for the night she would place her call button on a chair by her bed - then promptly sit down on it to remove her slippers. They never minded the false alarms, they
Hopefully, the call centre staff today are just as forbearing - given the fact that the Trio of Rampaging Rascals love pressing the bright red button
on the base unit, chorusing, excitedly: “Hallo? Hallo?” as soon as somebody answers. I pretend that we are “just testing” but I am pretty sure I am not fooling anybody at the other end.
It is obviously important for us to know that there is a problem on our telephone line just in case - but I was pretty sure there was nothing I could actually do about it at that hour in the morning. I reassured Mr B
that everything would all be sorted out by the time “proper” morning arrived. I didn’t actually know this for a matter of fact but I was rather assuming that, had it not been for the Warning Voice, neither of us would ever have known about
the disconnected telephone line anyway and would have slept on, blissfully unaware. Then, come the morning, the telephone would either be operating normally - or not. In which case I would either have something else to worry about or - hopefully - not.
Mr B needed a hot drink and a chat to calm him down after such excitement so by the time I crawled back into bed I was wide awake. I tried extremely hard to find my way back
into my dream but it proved impossible so I just lay there till eventually I must have dropped off.
Morning arrived. The telephone was in working order,
the Warning Voice was silenced. It was all as I had (rashly) predicted.
Normal service - or, that is, what passes for normal in our crazy house - was resumed.