17 Jan, 2021

Night Invaders ….

Something happened in the middle of the night three days ago.  We British have a phrase, “Things that go bump in the night”, referring humorously to those strange unaccountable sounds – ghosts in a haunted house, old plumbing, floorboards creaking, things tapping on windows and suchlike, and in fact my own flat creaks and clicks as the temperature changes. We’ve all experienced such things.

Here’s one I’ll never forget. An extremely hot summer’s night about 15 years ago.  Yours truly deeply asleep under just a sheet.  The bedroom doors to the roof garden wide open, such a luxury up in my safe little nest.  It’s about 3am.  From that deep slumber, huge shock and a scream, my scream,  heart thumping beyond panic.  Something was suddenly on top of me.  No idea what.  A burglar?  A piece of the ceiling?  Even a mouse? – but it couldn’t have been: it was much too heavy.

No, it was a cat.  Must have come across the rooftops, curious, seen something that looked comfortable, and had jumped on it.  On me.

Now I’m a fairly robust guy but if the Peace heart had been weak I reckon it might have been a medical job. We squared off: my feline invader was also shocked, raced out into the garden and turned to look at me, fur bristling.  We Brits have another phrase: “Curiosity killed the cat”.  At  that point I’d have welcomed that.  A moment later it fled.  Heart calmed down.  Back to bed, doors firmly closed.  Not easily forgotten.

Another one, and definitely my fault.  Fifty years ago as a student with friends on holiday in Greece, pretending to be interested in the ancient sites. Hitch-hiking and camping, with tent in rucksack.  One night, in the middle of the night, finding I wasn’t alone in the tent.  Another invasion but this time by more than one creature.  Advice from Uncle David: never pitch a tent on an anthill.

And so to three days ago.  Returning after New Year, I’d spent 10 days alone in my own flat carefully dealing with the various physical difficulties and checking that I could manage, which by and large I could.  Then an NHS contractor was due to deliver a table and install a bathroom safety bar so, because I can’t speak, Tim came to stay, sleeping on the sofa bed.

It was 2.30 in the morning and I was drifting in a sort of half-sleep when it happened.  Very clearly, a woman’s voice.  Very clearly?  How could it be?  What was going on?  Was it imagination, part of a dream?  Half awake, I couldn’t identify the words but they were certainly in the flat.  Another invasion.  Then some noises and a dim light.  I know my flat: the light was from table lamps over in the living room near the sofa bed.  Noise of movement.  I called out, and just then she spoke again.  Tim was up and doing something.  He came and told me.

During the day I wear a wrist band with a red emergency button.  Pressing it alerts a call centre.  They then contact me via a small machine on the desk, and if I say I’m not OK or if I don’t reply they send in the emergency services, medics.  I’ve not had to use it so far.  It was the machine.  The voice was automated, telling me that the system had no power.  In fact, as Tim then discovered, many electrical circuits in the flat had no power.  How could this happen in the middle of the night?  No idea then, and still no idea now.

In brief, during the next morning all the circuits were working except the ceiling lights, and I have 29 ceiling lights.  A neighbour came in to check them, spent two hours doing so, and then announced that it would be a big job and could be very disruptive, replacing main cables and distribution cables and could take some days.  With all the dust and disturbance it was better for me to disappear.

Friends, this whole blog entry is a shamelessly drawn-out way of letting you know that I’m back at Tim’s place at the moment.  It could have taken three sentences to say it, but that’s not blogworthy and I couldn’t think of anything else to write about.  So for today it’s Night Invaders: Cats, Ants and Gizmos.

4 Comments

  1. I was asleep one night in Saudi Arabia and awoke itching in various places. I thought this was a bit odd so I got up and turned on the light to have a look. The bed had other occupants; ants. It wasn’t covered or ‘alive’ with them but there was enough. Right I thought, sofa for tonight, sort them out tomorrow. As I headed to the sofa with sheet and blanket in hand I sleepily realised I was in a race. With a cockroach. Sofa, bed……sofa, bed……cockroach, ants, cockroach. I’ll take the ants. Thirty six hours or so later I woke again, with a headache from the Black Flag. The aerosol this time, not the band.

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  2. Coincidentally, one night, also in Saudi Arabia, I was wakened by by my cat doing acrobatics on my bed. I awoke to find a huge cockroach crawling up my chest towards my face…… Yaaaaaaaaargh! I’ve never reached that speed again at which I vacated the bed.
    The cat wouldn’t catch them by the way and certainly didn’t want to play with them. So had to call in the exterminators!

    Oh dear, I think we have started our own “night frights” blog here, and Tim won’t be pleased!

    Reply
  3. With a group from Southwark Cathedral in Zimbabwe in 2014. Anticipated accommodation full – ‘no room at the inn’ – so we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere at a little ‘tourist’ camp … which had to open up for us as there hadnt been any tourists there for years. There were a few rondavels, but the 80 year old franciscan lady and I were taken across the road and down a long dirt track to another, large, building by a pond: pavilion-like it had a bar and I suppose was used once as an overnight stop for hopeful game seekers.
    Well, Sister Joyce and I said goodnight and departed to our respective bedrooms. Mine was huge, over the top, with ‘en suite’. The bed hadnt been slept in for months, sunk in the middle, and all the bedding was damp. I decided to sleep in my clothes but to draw some blanket over me. It was late by now so I dropped off quite quickly. THEN … in the early hours, lying on my back, I was awoken by a THUMP, something landing on my chest. MUCH BIGGER THAN A COCKROACH, AND UNKNOWN AND UNKNOWABLE! I roared and threw off the blanket, only to hear a creature (?) land in a far corner of my 5* room…. After that I left the lights on in the en suite, moved all the furniture to eliminate any animal’s springboard, and just about managed to get back to sleep. What was it? Well, Sister Joyce had spotted a rat gnawing its way through her soap in her bathroom so maybe it was (?only) that. End of story: but David, I can imagine how you felt…. G

    Reply
  4. Many moons ago, probably back in 1974, I was in Pakistan staying with a friends whose father was in the diplomatic service and had been posted out there. We all went up into the mountains for a couple of nights to get some respite from the heat. We stayed at an old weekend retreat for Europeans which probably hadn’t changed much since the turn of the century. There was no electricity so we had gas lamps near our beds. I was sharing with two other people and they went off to sleep fairly quickly but I am a night bird so decided to read. After a while and to my consternation I noticed a couple of the biggest cockroaches I had ever seen on the ceiling. The ceiling was double height and I remember praying they would stay there and not venture down. I continued to read but eventually started having difficulty seeing the page as the room seemed to be getting darker. I turned around to the lamp just to the side of my head in order to check the gas and to my horror the whole lamp was covered in every conceivable creepy crawly! It was all I could do not to scream out loud. I spent the rest of the night under my sheet for fear they would crawl all over my hair and face in the night.

    The only other ‘bump in the night’ was in Africa on a visit to a game reserve just outside Kruger. David decided to just take a few steps out of our room to get a bit of fresh air when he heard the ominous grunting of a hippo. Of course it was pitch black so he had no idea exactly where it was but for a man who NEVER runs I have never seen him move so fast in my life!

    There is one other story which revolves around David’s once proclivity to sleep walk. It involved a hotel full of old people (to be fair we were young and they were probably not much older than we are now! ) a hotel corridor and man who never wears pyjamas but I’ll refrain from the details to save his modesty!!

    Reply

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