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Crazy D and smoke alarms are a match made in a violent, uncaring hell. It’s not so much the noise, I think, as it is the high-pitchedness of it. It is such a sharp, shrill sound that it renders him incapable of coping. Which, I would hazard a guess, makes it tricky living with The Mom, as she can be a little heavy-handed with the gas, thus overheating the pan she’s trying to burn something in.

Fire alarms are never easy to cope with. They are miserable, menacing things and though I know one day they’ll probably save my life, until that moment I will continue hating them.

They are all alike too, in that, they will go off at the slightest provocation. This is something I learned early on, after moving out of The Mom’s the first time. I got an apartment in Chinatown that was tiny with an even tinier kitchen and my flatmate and I , having grown tired of the constant shrieking of the stupid fire alarm, got some newspaper and maskeg tape and covered the damned thing up. Which was fine, until one day I came back to find my flatmate standing in the hallway flapping her arms saying, “Lady, I think the house is on fire.”

There was a lot of smoke and it was true, the house was nearly on fire, due to the deep frying my flatmate was trying to do, but the fire alarm was not going off. I used the handy fire extinguisher, set down a new rule – no deep frying in the house – and briefly considered unwrapping the fire alarm, though, in this case it wouldn’t have notified us of anything we didn’t already know. We were fully abreast of the fact that the house was nearly on fire.

In my first flat in London, there ws an equally needy and over-zealous fire alarm, and so we took the batteries out. And the stupid thing just dangled there, until someone’s well-intentioned boyfriend came round and put the stupid thing back together again. Whereupon we discovered, at two in the morning, that the batteries were running out and so my flatmate and I stood – in the middle of the night, cursing her boyfriend and the fire alarm, stabbing at it with the wrong end of the broom until it gave up and crashed to the floor where we left it, hoping her boyfriend would hurt his foot when he got up for a pee.

In Glasgow, we had more high-tech fire alarms that sometimes chirped in the night, and remarkably, given my tinnitus and general hearing impairment, I was able to hear it and it kept me up. I got a chair and went round the entire flat, trying to rip the stupid things apart and prise their batteries out, but was unable to find the batteries. They were still chirping so I put them outside on the balcony where I thought they wouldn’t annoy anyone. But my flatmate could hear them through her open window so then she got up and we buried them in the couch until we could think of something better to do with them.

My more recent stint in London involved a similar fire alarm means dinner is done scenario, and I frequently came home to the smell of something about to burn, the fire alarm going off, and the door to the flat thrown wide open, and my flatmate cursing the alarm, the oven and anybody else stupid enough to be near by.

All this is to say of course, that The Mom’s approach to cooking – burn the shit out of something and call it a day – is in no way surprising. The alarm starts to go off when she is at her lowest ebb and it is a preview to the following week wherein she will exist exclusively on wine, popcorn and ice-cream.

The alarm only went off a couple of times when I was living there, but that’s only because we didn’t use the hob so much as I was in the midst of a Crohn’s flare and couldn’t face food or the smell of it, and the Mom was similarly disenchanted with food. I believe we ate a lot of cheese and crackers (or just crackers in my case) and BBQ chicken, which is really the better option: it’ll get burnt either way, but doing it outside means we don’t have to listen to the alarm go off.

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