Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I Aten't Dead

... but apparently I do a pretty good impression of it, or I did last night.

Last night, the young woman in the flat directly below mine, let's call her S, started a fire. Inside her flat. A couple of metres from my sleeping self.

This rather disturbing news came to me this afternoon courtesy of another resident of the flat-block who we shall call V. I bumped into V in the corridor and exchanged the usual pleasantries, upon which he said "and what about last night, eh?" My blank look led him to expand upon this with the words "the fire?" at which point I managed to articulate that I had no idea what he was on about. He related the story as follows:

Late last night, V heard a commotion outside and went downstairs to see what was going on. He encountered some firemen and found S sitting in the middle of the road outside, crying. He physically pulled her onto the kerb and sat and had a cigarette with her and asked what was going on. S claimed that she had seen a mouse, which had run into a paper bag, and that she had then picked up the paper bag, shoved it into the bin, and set fire to the bin in an effort to kill the mouse. Then she had called the fire brigade. She didn't proffer an explanation for the sitting in the road.

I feel quite relieved that the fire station isn't far away.

I feel a bit disturbed that, now I think about it, there's no fire escape here. The front door is reached only by going past the downstairs flats. I don't like my chances of physically managing to climb out of a window, and I really don't like my chances of landing safely on the concrete some 15-20 feet below.

I feel quite annoyed that she called the fire brigade but didn't, oh, just as an example, start shouting "FIRE! FIRE!" or banging on doors to wake the people she'd put at risk.

I feel quite scared that I slept through the firemen turning up and coming in and putting out the fire. On the one hand, okay, they don't use the sirens at night unless there's a big need to, but surely I should have heard the doors banging and stuff? I will take my night-time tablets tonight but it does bother me a little.

And I also feel a little suspicious about the mouse story. I don't know about you, but if I saw a mouse in my flat running into a paper bag, I would probably throw said bag out of the window. If I DID put the bag into the bin, I would then hold the lid of the bin closed and take it outside. I wouldn't hunt around for a lighter and then attempt to ignite the bin. If I was really desperate to set fire to the thing, I'd at least get it the hell out of my flat first...

But, I don't know how S's mind works. She has a lot of problems, including a Class A drugs habit. Maybe there was a mouse. Maybe she hallucinated it. Maybe the pixies told her to start the fire. Maybe she was in the road hoping the fire engine, in its haste to answer the call, would run her over. Maybe it was a cry for help. Maybe it was boredom. I haven't the faintest idea.

I desperately hope that this was a one-off.

1 comment:

JackP said...

Hmm... aside from the obviously somewhat disturbing neighbour thing, I have somewhat of a tendency to sleep through things myself.

Usually alarm clocks that wake my wife up; cats patting at you because they want stroked (that wake my wife up); children bouncing on you because they want breakfast (that wake my wife up); and the dawning realisation that it's not a weekend and I've got to go to work (that wakes my wife up).

I think I'm better off asleep. At least until my wife wakes me up...