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Wednesday, 8 June 2011

A Logical Conclusion to a Grandmother-Shaped Mystery?

One of the most amusing things about my grandmother moving into sheltered accommodation is how she's adjusting to it. After all, this is a woman who has lived independently for plenty of her 87 years. For instance, as her hearing diminished she grew accustomed to turning the television up just that little bit more. Living in a corner bungalow that was fine. Living in sheltered accommodation...maybe not so much. The other evening my dad came upstairs laughing uncontrollably to give me the phone. It was my grandmother on the other end - and she'd caused a bit of a problem.

A few weeks ago she got new hearing aids. Last weekend when we picked her up from the flat I noticed there was a buzzing in the room but I didn't mention it, wanting desperately to get away and not have an hour's debate on the issue. Still, when we dropped her back off my dad noticed it as well and she confirmed it was her hearing aids. They hadn't buzzed at all while we were out so my dad and I privately deduced it was down to some electrical interference somewhere in the building. We didn't mention to her; we didn't want her fretting.

Apparently, though, on Monday the buzzing became too much for her. She took the hearing aids out, closed the door between the living room and the hallway to block the noise and turned the television up to a volume she could hear without the hearing aids. At around half past nine she turned the television off and realised there was someone banging on the door. When she answered it the warden was stood there...with four firemen beside her. I think it was then my grandmother realised the fire alarm above her head was going off.

Well, the firemen and the warden checked all over. Absolutely nothing on fire. She'd eaten around six so the cooker was ice cold. The most she'd done in the last hour was boil the kettle. Everyone was baffled but were sympathetic with the situation - an elderly woman's hearing aids hurt so she took them out, she closed the door so she wouldn't disturb the neighbours and therefore didn't hear the fire alarm going off. The actions of someone trying to be conscientious. This was the first time the sheltered accommodation had ever had the fire brigade out. Quite a feat for my grandmother considering she's only been in there a couple of months. Anyway, the warden put the false alarm down to a fault before she and the firemen left.

After we'd stopped laughing me and my dad talked it over. Something in the flat, and the building in general, was interfering with my grandmother's hearing aids. Isn't it plausible that the something was the fire alarm system? And, if that is the case, isn't it plausible that, working along the same frequency as they obviously were, the hearing aids caused a sudden glitch in the fire alarm system?

Ah, this all conjecture. But, as I mentioned, she moved in less than three months ago. The flat was given a full safety check before then. Odd the fire alarm sprung a fault just as she'd begun to get buzzing in her ears, though, eh?

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