Thursday, 15 October 2015

A horrible accident on a horrible day

Although I knew that today was going to be very hot – and thus a great day to wash my delicate bamboo summer sheets that require low spin and hence more natural drying – I had a moment of virtual madness a couple of hours ago that I feared would cost me a great deal and left me in the worst of quandries.

It is a familiar practice on uncomfortably hot days to move the clothes horse out to the balcony to aid drying – and necessary with bamboo sheets that must be spun at 400 revs per minute instead of 800 (I am careful about these instructions, although my mother urges me not to be).

This morning, as I was discovering that one sock was missing, I went back from the balcony to get the other sock which I assumed (correctly) remained in the washing machine. However, to my dreadful shock, I found that I could not get out of the balcony as I had locked the door from the inside by tuning the latch! The first inclination I had was to try to climb down from the balcony to the courtyard below and get back inside from there. However, with my fat stomach and bare feet I knew three things:
  1. it would be tough to climb down the narrow holes
  2. I would risk breaking the ledges if I tried
  3. I would risk an ankle injury from landing on the hard bricks
Consequently, I shouted “HELP, HELP, HELP” southward towards Coleman Place, whose houses (though not the actual lane) can be seen directly from the balcony. At first there was no response and I – imaging extreme ascetics I have been reading about like the eighteenth-century Ephrata Cloister who slept on hard wood – I tried to fall asleep in the hope I would be able to get enough sleep even in the hot weather to forget that I was locked out in a hot balcony.
This is the bed of a Brother or Sister (celibate) in the eighteenth-century Ephrata Cloister. I imagine it easier to sleep on than the outdoors balcony I tried to sleep the day on waiting for my mother.
For a little while I did sleep, but the hot air and wind eventually woke me up and I resumed calling “HELP, HELP” towards Coleman Place. Eventually, a man by the name of Chris (at first when I heard I though his name to be “Cress”) caught my call and I told him – without even seeing – that I was locked out on my balcony. After an error, I managed to get my mother’s mobile number, but although Chris did manage to call it my mother was busy teaching. I thus asked Chris to message my mother with an urgent notice that I was locked out on the balcony, and to get the police in case there was no way she could come home. I also gave my half-sister’s number (the only other one I could remember) but there was no answer either. So, I was desperate and unable to rest as Chris left, saying that he was going around to try to get the police in by the front door, which I was not sure practicable because they might not have had the appropriate tool to get locked-in people back in like locksmiths do.

I remained fidgety all along until I saw Chris’ neighbour, Lorraine, and a Chilean woman called “Coca” (full name “Catherina”). I told them what had happened and Lorraine said that being locked out was not a unique problem for me. When it was inquired how the police – who were slow to the point of some worry – would get in, I suggested that they climb the wall at the back of our house and Lorraine tried herself with a ladder she had – hoping in fact that the builders (rebuilding the Carlton Baths) would offer the police one for the emergency! It was thought that a big person could do it easily – and indeed when the police came they had no trouble at all and soon unlocked me, the weather already horribly hot!

I feel from this that I was dreadfully careless – and was in a daydream when I went out to the balcony! What lessons can be learnt from this unfortunate accident I do not know – since in many circumstances I would not have been able to call for help as I did.

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