Our experiences today may be your experiences tomorrow. 6am. We're very much asleep on a Frosty Essex Monday Morning. Or at least we were until something intruded. Except that it wasn’t an intruder; it was an inside job. There was this electronic "Glooo-Dooop" out there in the hall or somewhere; kinda like the smoke alarm when the batteries are going, but not on the same high sound frequency. Ignore it! Probably one of our young man's electronic gizmos going gagga or maybe, please God, even committing hara-kari.
Then, after a few minutes, the ‘It’ repeated it's rather strident
And after yet another few minutes. Huh?
And then again!
What is doing what at this dead hour?
This is quality sleeping time, innit.
The darkest hour before the dawn and all of that?
Nothing for it only to bail out of bed and go ‘a hunting’ for a GlooDoop in the Pitch Black. Check the smoke alarm downstairs. It couldn't be the one on the top landing. That woke us LAST week when it's battery finally gave out; having lived here since the house was built. It had taken two days (and an intervening sleepless night) to figure out how to get at the battery without dismantling the ceiling. This time with the marvellous benefit of educated hindsight it takes two minutes to change the battery downstairs. Just as the alarm is being nailed back to the ceiling:
The sound does not seem to be coming from the alarm but more from the ‘Kitchen’. Check around. Dishwasher door is ajar. Aha! This is an all-singing, all-dancing, state-of-the-art, electronic DishDrawer, with electronic bells and whistles. Are it’s bells or whistles complaining about the door being left open all night? It has never done that before, has it? Yeah! But we never left the door ajar all night. But doesn’t it go kinda "Two Knee Deep" and "Three Knee Deep"? And didn’t the smoke alarm go kinda "Glick-Blick" every couple of minutes?
What else makes electronic 'gleeps' in this house or in this kitchen. The bread-maker is off duty. Check anyway. You never know these days. It's innocent. I’m glad. It makes nice bread and, at the end, cheeps three times accompanied by the heavenly aroma of freshly baked bread. I’d be devastated if I’d had to execute it With a Hammer at Dawn for Dastardly Deeds.
Now this is getting serious. No way am I going to be ruled or fooled by an electronic noise-maker, doing it's own thing every few minutes and hiding behind a sound-screen like an Aural Spook. Initiate. Process. of. Elimination. Check computers, TVs, anything electronic. Check all domestic appliances with electronic drivers.
Remove mobile phones from downstairs to upstairs. Where is the Noise Coming From? If I could even pin it down to a floor! My own mobile, which at least I understand, is programmed to make not a sound. An old and trusted friend, it looks back at me innocently. I know it is innocent. Throw my darling her phone into the bed where she is almost but not quite comatose.
She runs her checks and assures me her mobile is also innocent. Start downstairs again. Have you been keeping count of how many times I've gone upstairs and downstairs this morning. It's still on the witching side of half past six? Halfway down the stairs .........
It could be coming from anywhere. I’m transfixed on the Stair That Is Neither Up Nor Down. “I know what is doing it!” says My Darling. “Whadd-is-id?” I hiss, between clenched teeth, rooted to the middle stair-tread.“It's that new phone we got for the teenager.” “But it sounds like it's downstairs?”
""It is!" says SWMBO. I hid it in the drawer by the door til his birthday". My Darling knows how to prise open the lid to expose the picture screen and as she does'
it lights momentarily and the device goes
This ‘mobile’ is the business. Takes photos. Mashes Musack. Bluetooths to our home computers. So small it could fall through a crack in a business plan. We could phone our Teenager on it. He could phone us. It even has a private income and can siphon funds off an innocent credit card to pay the phone man. And now we know that, when it’s battery is in a near-death condition,
this mobile comes at you going ...
My phone and Her phone are normal mobiles, which whimper at impending battery death.
Not this mighty warrior. It lets out a blood-curdling war-cry.
At six in the morning!
This experience leaves me sadder but not much wiser. What’s next to make it's presence felt, electronically and aurally, in the wee small hours, I ask? Don't just sit there looking smug. Some day your computer, personal organiser, bread-maker, dish-washer, smoke alarm, unhooked phone, ink-jet printer, video-timer, digital watch, oven-timer is going to get you.
In the wee small hours.
If your newest mobile phone doesn't get you first. ... ... ...
2 Slieve na gCapall,
" I took time out for an hour to watch one of my favourite TV programs so it is now 9PM and there is an hour to run til sunset. The sky overhead is cloudy: the ragged edge of bad weather to our East and beautiful weather out West in the Atlantic. Out there the sky is clear and I'm waiting for the setting sun to drop below the cloud cover.
" The sight from the window at the moment is breath-taking. Out over Connemara to the West of the Twelve Bens the whole sky is a honey colour. The sea under it is like a lake of molten copper as the sun (which is not visible to me yet) is ladling out it's heat and light under a soft grey sky with golden highlights.
" The Bens themselves are in light silhouette against the golden sky with the closer land near Carraroe making a perfect border to a perfect horizon. This is the sort of sight can could not be captured faithfully on film and would not interpret on video. It is even difficult to describe in words as it changes from second to second. I'm doing my best but it is the kind of vision I can only soak in and hope to remember.
" The enthusiasm for what is now unfolding is honed by the fact that I have not yet seen a sunset on Galway Bay. This evening will be the first and I intend to soak in every minute of it.Now the sun is peeking momentarily through a hole near the base of the cloud and bathing the sitting room in liquid gold. The bright sky out West has taken on an even more golden hue than earlier if such is really possible.
" Finavarra point and the Martello tower is in silhouette against a dark and glassy sea with smooth snake currents radiating and meandering from the point. Bell Harbour is radiant in the foreground and the golden span of the sea is growing from the Connemara coast in this direction.
" The calm eddies around the point are beginning to glow golden as the colour from Connemara races across the bay towards the point. At the Western fringes of the bay the water line is indistinct behind what, unbelievably, seems to be a heat haze.
"Suddenly, now the sun has dropped, eventually, below the cloud base and the liquid gold has spilled right across the bay and the point. The sun itself is reflected in the glassy water of BellHarbour and that reflection is added to the extra-ordinary light which is now flooding in through the big window.
" I would love to be out at the door where I could sense the air but I must keep writing. This is a once in a lifetime experience. I have seen many suns setting in my lifetime. I have seen the "green glow" which terminates the so-called perfect sunset'. But what is before me now is the truly perfect sunset: a kaliedoscope of changing lights and shadows and colours in silvers and pinks and golds and turquoise.
" The crossbars of the window have come into their own in allowing me to block out the very bright golden orb of the sun yet see everything else and still be able to write as I watch. The sun is about to pass behind the Martello tower, six orb-heights above the Twelve Bens which it is counting off one by one as it arcs Eastward on it's descent. This is fascinating. Who would ever have thought of the sun moving eastwards as it it set?
" Now the tower is totally silhouetted and the sea in front is on fire. Due to the gentle rippling of the water the edges of the fiery carpet seem to be fringed by tiny licking flames.
" I really had to stop writing for the past ten minutes of tonight's show, just to savour it with all my senses. It didn't seem fair for my eyes only to relish the the experience. I had the lady in my life here to savour it with me and just as the sun vanished below the sixth of the twelve bens we both saw the "green glow". The first and last time I managed to experience that phenomenon was as a young controller in Shannon Tower. Aengus was only a baby and I was on Evening duty. Luckily I had been told years earlier what to expect and now I remember the advice and can pass it to you.
" The moment the sun vanished the glow came in for less than two seconds at the point where the last spark of the sun departed. I knew the rules. I kept my eye on the tip of the sun and made sure that I had blinked profusely in the last seconds so's I
could keep my eyes open. If you blink you can miss it. I have no idea what it is like on an ocean horizon but I have now seen it over two mountains with an interval of twenty five years. The last time though the scene included a cloudless sky and the setting was somewhat featureless. Tonights show will stay with me for the rest of my life although I will look forward to the next one.
" The aftershock of such a perfect experience is one of sudden but gentle subsidence as if the whole sky was breathing out: a release of tension after a powerful exertion. The lights go dim very quickly. Gold changes instantly to salmon pink and that
pinkness spreads across the canvas, drifting from one cloud bottom to another with the colour softening as it goes. I really think that anyone who can experience a perfect sunset will forever more hold a jaundiced view of Laser Strobes, Computer-Generated Light Patterns and less than perfect fireworks displays.............................