Stories of Small Details

Alarmed [2002]

Having been round the world three times, through wet tropics, arid deserts, bazaars and barrios, my alarm clock has finally given up and died. I realised there was a problem with my trusty piece of kit when it woke me at five in the morning with the disturbing information that it was 35:00 pm and that time was steadily going backwards, it wasn’t until 34:50 pm that I realised that it wasn’t signifying the end of the world, but rather, my well travelled little clock had somehow set a thirty-five minute timer. After that it got steadily more eccentric and eventually after a series of pathetic and slurred beeps it stopped altogether. As I have become incapable of waking up without its infuriating ‘dee-dee-dee-dee’ I had to seek an alternative.

Rather then purchase a new clock (it would feel indecent after such a short period of mourning) I have pressed my phone into service. It is one of these executive flip jobs, sleek, undoubtedly under its BMI and able to perform a baffling range of tricks. However in its function as an alarm clock it failed to impress. I warily set the alarm (denoted be a jaunty little bell) for 7:15am, somewhat curious of what might happen. I was roused at some ungodly hour by my phone, blearily wondering who could be calling at this time I pressed it to me ear, realised I needed to open the damn thing and tried again. ‘Hello’ quoth I (in a raven-croak), and then it dawned on me that this was now my alarm clock. Peering at the screen I was faced with the options of ‘disable’ and ‘snooze’. What a choice to offer someone who has just woken up. Snooze seems the obvious option, but being quite awake enough now I know that that will mean that I will have to go through the whole process again in, what will seem like 30 seconds. But ‘disable’…? what happened to ‘stop’ or ‘off’? Pondering whether the commands on this phone were written by a dalek I select ‘disable’ and the noise finally ceases.

In some respects I am glad to have an alarm substitute which doesn’t automatically stop, I am always wary of those which obediently silence when hit, as it leads to blissful hours in bed and completely missing the bus. A while ago, having become accustomed to such a device I disturbed a gentleman I happened to be sharing a bed with by bashing him in a comatose belief that he was making an infernal beeping noise. He was not impressed, but in retrospect he did not turn out to be a gentleman and probably deserved it. Such violence towards time-pieces runs in the family. My father infamously threw a rather splendid heavy brass alarm clock out his bedroom window, as it would not stop ringing. Unfortunately the window was closed. The chimes did not stop even after the clock’s remains had smashed on the path below. It did however succeed in waking the whole house, the neighbours, and a section of the village as well.

I am now getting accustomed to my phone-alarm, it is unpleasantly intrusive enough to fully wake me and I have memorised where the ‘disable’ button is. I have even discovered that you can press any button and it will stop for a while, but resume again in time to avoid those famous scenes at the beginning of ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’. Despite missing my well-travelled little clock, I am up and ready to face the world, having already disabled something before half seven in the morning.

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