(Fiction – thank you for the inspiration Mum, I bet you are glad you managed to get out without outside help!)
Do you ever feel like screaming ’Stop the ride I want to get off!’ before realising that the ride you are on is called life and the ride operator is so rarely seen that they have become legend. The little booth that he sits in has been nicknamed heaven but the windows are tinted and you start to wonder if there is anybody operating the ride at all.
The school run that morning had been one of the usual affairs that saw me thanking the ride operator for the fact that my sleepwear can pass for outerwear from a distance, while covered with a winter coat and as long as all the other unfortunates on the school run conformed to the rule of not looking too closely at each others attire. So with the boy and girl deposited for the day I dashed back home and into the welcome embrace of a bubblebath and it was then in a moment of weakness brought on, I think, by the hot water I foolishly allowed myself to believe that may day was getting better.
Wearing nothing but my middle age and a bathrobe I made my way in search of my hairdryer, last seen on Monday morning when it had been involved in an attempt to coverup the fact I had forgotten to turn the tumble dryer on the night before.
I found myself in the lesser visited corner of the small utility room that adjoined the kitchen thinking that I may have chucked the hairdryer onto the shelves above the hot water tank along with the towels that had also proven useless in my jumper rescue attempts. I looked for some reason at the hot water tank before the shelves, just as I was thinking that I could have sworn the tank was taller the last time I had looked at it I also noted a sudden lack of floor under my feet and then like Road Runner, a fraction of a second after the removal of solid ground, I began to fall.
A small part of my being had at least some wits left about it and just at the crucial moment my elbows shot out and managed to arrest my fall. I hung there, my weight held by my chicken wings for a moment or two while my brain processed what the hell had happened. I found myself looking directly at the suspiciously squat water tank while the cogs turned and I realised that. like I, the water tank had gone through the floor. Without arms to catch it the tank had been lucky enough to only fall part way before being caught by the joists. How at that moment I wished I was the water tank because it was about then that I realised that my bottom half was feeling rather draughty and the terrible reality that I was hanging with my top half in the utility room, my elbows stopping me from falling all the way through to the flat below, my dressing gown gathered up around my armpits and my lower half, now exposed in all its glory protruding into the downstairs flat.
Ten long minutes passed while I tried to find a solution to the rather interesting position I found myself in. Well, it felt like about ten minutes, I had no way of really knowing given that I foolishly never saw the need to mount a clock on the water tank and my phone was not about my person. I was trying to find a solution to my predicament when I heard the sound of a 20 year old male pure maths student discovering what a 30 something mother of two looked like naked from just above the waist and hanging from their ceiling. It wasn’t a pretty sound as such, more of a high-pitched scream, a pause to take in the full wonder of the sight before him followed by a string of expletives, a bit of cursing the ride operator and finally a call enquiring about my well being.
The key for my flat that I had cut to give to the neighbours was naturally sitting on the shelf in my hallway waiting patiently for me to give it to them. It had been waiting for over 6 months at that point, it had taken me 2 months to remember to get the thing cut and it was now only a month or so before they moved out ready for the new students in September.
As there were also no ladders to be had other than the ones in the garden shed (the key for which was keeping the spare flat key company on the shelf) my newly traumatised in ways his counsellor wouldn’t believe neighbour called the fire service.
Two fire engines one police cars and one ambulance was the final tally. They got me down into my neighbour’s flat quite quickly but that is to be expected really when you consider that my rescue crew was 16 firefighters, 2 police officers, 2 ambulance crew and a student doctor on a ride along.
The only real damage it transpired once I had been checked over by the ambulance staff was to my floor, my dignity and the mind of my young neighbour. Soon the emergency services started to drift off ready to dine out on my experience for many years to come, thankfully I realised before the last firefighter left that I was still not in the correct flat and that there was not a key for my flat in existence that wasn’t on that bloody shelf mocking me. The police officers and the remaining firefighters had a small standoff when it came to which one of the two services would get to use the small battering ram. I had to step in and play Mum after a few minutes as by this point I just wanted to put on some clothes and try to get a little time to sort out the gaping hole in my floor before the children came home from school. I ruled that the fire service had their turn when they got me down from my perch and it was the turn of the police now. The last firefighters appeared to be sulking as they got in their truck and departed and the two police officers could be heard at the top of the stairs outside my front door having a small tussle over who was going to break the door down. I trudged up the stairs, told the police officers that if they couldn’t agree I would do it at which point they seemed to snap to their senses, realise that they were police officers not children and broke down my front door.
It was less than two hours later when I left to pick the children up from school, now at least, dressed in proper clothes I didn’t bother picking up any of the keys from the shelf in the hall, there didn’t seem much point anymore.