Great British Reserve or The One In Which The House Nearly Burns Down Because We Don’t Want To Inconvenience Anyone*

 This post was going to be the one in which I informed and entertained you with my tales of Festival-going and treated to you to, amongst other things, several film “reviews”.  However, thrilling although they undoubtedly are, the reviews will have to wait.  They have been overtaken by EVENTS.

Scene:  Interior, very early morning (about 4.30am)

Me (sitting up in bed): “What’s  that noise?”

Mr K. (sleepily): “Wha’? Wha’ noise?”

Of course, as soon as you have this particular exchange, the noise in question fails to re-occur for what seems like an age.

Me: “THAT noise!”

We get out of bed and I go to the window and look out.  At this point I’m thinking someone is trying to break into our shed.   I hear another bang, accompanied by a flash of light.

Me: “It’s coming from the cycleway!  I saw a flash!  It’s like somebody’s letting something off down there”

Mr K:  “From the cycleway?  Oh, look! Something’s on fire!”

At this point I notice the enormous column of very black smoke rising from the site of the flash I saw earlier.

Mr K: “It’s the ATC hut!”

Me (crossly): “No it isn’t!”  It’s NEXT to the ATC hut.  We should phone the fire brigade”

This is the Royal “we”, obviously.

Mr K. picks up the phone, moves out onto the landing and looks out of the landing window at the column of smoke.  I join him and do likewise.  Neither of us phones.

Me:  “Isn’t there a substation next to the ATC?  Behind that fence?”

Mr K: “Is there?  I wonder if I should go out onto the bridge and have a look.  It’s just so dark”

I assume he means “it’s so dark, I can’t see the phone numbers properly.  He moves downstairs.  I wonder why, it is darker down there after all.  Meantime I continue my attempts to establish the topography of our neighbourhood.  No-one phones.

Mr K. comes back up the stairs and looks out of the window again.

Mr K: “Oh yes, I can see the flames now”

Me (very crossly): “Yes, yes, you can see the flames!  We should phone the fire brigade!”

Mr K. starts to key in the number.  Gripped by a fear that I might have to become in some way “involved”, I make a sudden decision to visit the loo.

Mr K. (hesitantly): “Ah, em, hello.  Yes, em, Fire Service, please.” (pause) “Ah, hello. Yes, I’m phoning from Meteor Street.  There seems to be a fire, ah, taking hold in the cycleway beside our house.  No, no, just in the undergrowth.  Thank you.”

He hangs up.  Number 2 daughter appears on the landing and receives the news of the fire without enthusiasm.  We all pay a visit to the loo and return to bed, only to get up again two minutes later when the fire engine arrives, the fire is extinguished and order resumed.

So there you have it.  Two people, so frightened of  getting involved or making a fuss that they very nearly go back to sleep as if nothing has happened.  This is a typically Edinburgh reaction – we don’t like to get involved.  I was born and bred here and Mr K. has, after long years of exposure, clearly “gone native”.  In the biopic, I will be played by Mavis Riley from “Coronation Street” and Mr K. will be played by Norman Clegg from “Last of the Summer Wine”

We went down to have a look this morning at the site of the fire.  It was a burnt-out Audi estate, presumably stolen, and torched “for a laugh”.  Nice.

* Not really.

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3 Responses to Great British Reserve or The One In Which The House Nearly Burns Down Because We Don’t Want To Inconvenience Anyone*

  1. pleite says:

    Got the snaps! Got the snaps!

    I had an in-betweeny bedsit in (actually near) Paris for a month a hundred years ago. It had no phone, no bathroom (even on the corridor), no anything. I had no TV or radio, so coming home would mean looking out the window. (Hadn’t lugged any books with me from London, I don’t think.) Once, my ex came to visit and as we looked out the curtainless windows one night, we could see some scum-king breaking into flats opposite. I was too petrified to move – he could easily see us, in theory – and I wouldn’t even have known how, telephonelessly, to alert the police. So I let the crime pass unhindered. Does that mean I’m going to hell?

    Glad your house didn’t burn down. It would have been annoying, wouldn’t it?

  2. Sylvia says:

    reminds me of when I actually did call the fire brigade when our burglar alarm fused under the stairs and I panicked. Still, it was great fun having 20 men pile into the hallway. Luckily they didn’t laugh at me. All my friends were cross that I didn’t call them.

    So, when are you going to tell us about the festival???

  3. BiB says:

    More bloggage please.

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