We Are Alarmed (The ‘Flip-Book’ series, No. 1) 


Or, as it might be, BEEEEP.   BEEEEP.   BEEEEP. 

Or possibly, "...was conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, on their 2000 recording of 'Pavane Pour Une Infante Défunte' by Maurice Ravel. And to take us up to the news at seven o'clock, here's...". 

Or maybe even this (in a baritone register): 



Okay, no prizes for spotting that these are four examples of alarm-calls.
Actually, they're all types of alarm-call that have brought me (and probably you) to wakefulness over the years. 

The first example is obviously an old-fashioned alarm-clock with those two little bells on the top, and a habit of falling behind your bedside table as you lash out for it. This one's been in and out of favour with me for many years, it's currently 'in' again, and I still don't like it. 

The second example might be a bizarre person in your household who likes to imitate electronic gadgetry in your ear at the crack of dawn, but that's not very likely is it? 
No, the second one is a genuine electronic device, possibly (as in my case) built into a bedside radio; less dramatically dream-shattering than the first example, it is no less annoying. And this, incidentally, was how Day 13991 of my life began for me. 

The third example is that same bedside radio in much friendlier mode. The trouble is, it's too friendly. You become vaguely aware that something musical has just been happening, and that a well-modulated and soothing voice is now addressing you. Then you realise that he's just mentioned seven o'clock, and you have a hazy idea that this is not a good thing. 

Any guesses as to the fourth example? 

Well, that's my personal bugbear, and you've probably known it too: on a bright, tranquil summer's morning, it's the sound of a wasp, a dirty great brute the size of an attack helicopter, homing in on the gap in your bedroom windows. 

Oh God, oh God oh God get up getupgetupshutthewindowshutthe 

<< Clunk! >>.  

And if you're lucky, there he is on the other side of the glass, nutting it like a tiny disgruntled Glaswegian. Pheeewww. 

Nobody, nobody deserves that sort of adrenalin surge straight out of a deep sleep; surely the UN Human Rights Council could add it to their agenda one of these fine days? 

Come to think of it, does anyone ever really enjoy being summoned from oblivion before they're ready? 

Not so many years ago, it was accepted practice in obstetrical circles to dangle new-born babies by their ankles and smack them smartly about the buttocks to make them cry, so inducing them to start using their lungs. Heck, it probably happened to me. What a way to greet your life. 

Nowadays the custom is deprecated as being unwarrantably savage --- yet nobody seems to be leading any crusades against the petty savagery of the morning alarm. I think that's a shame. How much merrier this world could be if we all rose from our cots when we were good and ready, and not before? 

Actually, judging from my experience of trying to transact daily business (i.e. trying to reach any worker in any office on any 'phone number), this policy has already been adopted and nobody's told me. Typical. 

Meanwhile, back on Day 13991, the BEEEEPs were silenced with a groping finger on an unseen button; no bizarre gadget-mimics in my household, thank you very much. 

Unless of course they were still fast asleep. 


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