Postaday2011: Bleep conspiracy!

Have you ever wondered exactly when they took over our lives? They snuck in fairly unobtrusively with cute little electronic beeps about the time that transistor radios became obsolete and newer, smaller battery operated stuff came in. I still have my little transistor from the sixties. It was one of the few birthday presents I remember getting when I was around 12 or so. I reckon it was so that my parents didn’t have to listen to ‘Pick of the Pops’ . It is a radio alarm in a leather case. The clock is wound by hand and the transistor has a tinny little sound but I loved it. Freedom to listen to Radio Caroline under my bedclothes at night.

Those days are long gone but fondly remembered. I am certain I will not be saying the same about the constant battering of beep from our modern technology equipment. Radios, alarm clocks, microwaves, cookers, road crossings, mobile phones, photocopiers, computers… oh the list is endless! Day after day they intrude into our lives and take control. Time to get up, warning ! you burnt the toast, someone is at the door, answer the phone. Their instruction is non verbal but so absolute! No nice gentle reminders any more. I remember the days when I could smell when the cakes were cooked and I sure knew when the toast was burned. When someone came to the door it was a knuckle on wood or maybe if you were lucky a gentle ding-dong, so much more personal, don’t you think?

BEEP! get up, beeep! your breakfast is cooked, beeep, answer the door. It’s not so much the beep, I guess, but the harsh tonality of the beast as it bursts into your consciousness with its demanding piercing, leaving you with no doubt an instant, ‘quick! get up and sort me out’ panic. But worst of all, bad enough having been made neurotic by controlling beeps, are the little ones that intrude at obscure moments in your life, yes, you know the ones.

Beeeeeep, feed me, I’m hungry. That life saver mobile phone, so useful in many ways. You can turn it to silent and only you know by a gentle vibrate in your pocket that it would like to be answered. I like that gesture.Don’t be fooled! It gets you back when the battery is low. No argument, no gentle rumbling. A double beep no less! BEEP BEEP! FEED ME, FEED ME, NOW!

The ultimate is also a wonderful invention and a life saver, the smoke detector! It is as though there is a payback to the joys this magic equipment affords us. So who on earth, no doubt some little boffin who thought he would have some fun, decided that only hours between 11pm and 6am would be the best time to let us know that they needed a new battery!

Harry was gently snoring, getting up at 4.30 needs an early night. I was just writing my late night blog and the world was happy. BIP!! Just a tiny little ‘bip!’ not a long one but one that pierces the silence of the darkness like a needle stabbing into a balloon. The effect is the same in those silent hours. I panic, no! you are not going to wake Harry! I stand at the main one waiting for the confirmatory beep. It is a ten-year battery? it can’t be that one. Bottom of the stairs, yes thats it. I can reach that one and unscrew it, remove the battery and replace it with a new one. BIP! Damn! it isn’t that one. Having a hearing problem does not help. I can’t tell which direction the noise is coming from. By this time H has wandered sleepily from the bedroom. ‘What’s up? says he. ‘ BIP! ‘

Not only do the batteries in things like mobile phones decide to run out during sleeping hours, mind you in their defence, mobiles are easy to turn off, of course if you remembered to take the phone upstairs with you,  but the biggest conspiracy comes in when smoke detectors not only go off when you are asleep, they leave each ‘bip’ long enough for you to drop off before going off again, a kind of dripping tap torture kind of thing. But even worse than that, you can guarantee it is the only one in the house that needs a ladder to reach it.

Poor Harry, I did my best, I cannot climb ladders any more, arthritic knees just don’t allow it, so he has to come all the way downstairs, go out the back to retrieve the step-ladder and remove it for me! That one did not get a new battery, it can wait till later when H gets back from work. It isn’t an important one, that’s covered by the big one but I have a plan to out-smart the rest of them. I reckon we probably bought them at the same time so logic tells me the battery life will be running out around the same time. Later we will change the batteries in all of them, during the day! We’ll teach them. Well I hope we will but you can bet your sweet life that won’t make a difference and that next time they need changing it will be night-time hours again!

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