Alarming

mumblings

I spent a couple of days this past week in Lincoln, giving a talk at a two-day workshop. It was fun and intellectually interesting, and Lincoln turned out to be a really pleasant little city. We stayed at a hotel overnight, and since I didn’t have to be up early for the start of the second day, I was looking forward to having a lie-in for at least an hour. What luxury! I set the alarm on my iPhone for 7am, and looked forward to a relaxing sleep, with a gigantic King-sized bed all to myself.

The next thing I knew, I was standing by the side of bed, heart pounding, with the fire alarm sounding. I was vertical before I was even fully awake, and at first I thought it was my own alarm. I use the ‘Piano Riff’ alarm sound on the built-in alarm clock (at maximum volume), and find that it usually wakes me up with a start, even when I’m wearing earplugs. This sound was much louder though, and I quickly realised that it wasn’t my alarm. It was 6am.

In my somewhat muzzy state, I rummaged through my bag for a jumper to pull on over my pyjamas, and to find my shoes. It’s a good thing that the alarm was caused by a fault1, because I was not behaving efficiently at all. First, I managed to turn the wrong way out of my room and head off in the opposite direction to the fire escape. Not a good start, and when I realised and turned around, it took me several seconds to figure out that I needed to take the stairs, not the lifts. The alarm had been sounding somewhat intermittently, and I only met one couple, looking similarly dazed. As we got to the stairs, the alarm stopped and didn’t restart, so we shrugged and shuffled back to our rooms.

I tried to go back to sleep, but after being woken so violently, there wasn’t any way that I was going to manage it. In the end, I gave up, had a shower and went down to breakfast, glaring accusingly at the bacon on the hotplate once I’d heard the news about the cause of the alarm.


  1. I later found out that the chefs had accidentally set the alarm off while cooking the breakfast bacon.
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