Christine Grahame: Things that go bump and beep in the night

Carbon monoxide detectors can prove surprisingly impervious to being tampered with. Picture: PA
Carbon monoxide detectors can prove surprisingly impervious to being tampered with. Picture: PA
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If you live in the city you become familiar with the scream of the police and ambulance sirens cutting through the night air, and your sleep.

There is the rumble of the lorry which rattles the house as it passes by, the late-night flight passing over the rooftops, the plaintiff cry of Mr Fox looking for a Mrs Fox right outside your back door or the scream of the owl as it tears at its prey in the moonlight.

There’s the cat fight which always sounds worse than its bite, or scratch, although I always check to see if Mr Smokey (rescue cat who now has me fully trained) is at home and intact. Not much chance of him being involved in night manoeuvres though, he’s too comfy on my bed monitoring me for the moment when I am actually about to get up and feed him breakfast.

Then there are the weekend choruses of the revellers, or the fights, or the blaspheming or all three at once. There is the jolly chat of neighbours with friends enjoying a late-night barbeque carried across the still night air.

But there are the funny peculiar sounds which have you up in the dark wondering if you have an intruder. What was that banging? Is your car being tampered with? Is the factory opposite really being burgled or is just another false alarm?

Ah but beeps in the night and regular beeps at that? And so it came to pass, that accompanied by Mr Smokey, who wrongly thought it was breakfast time, I scrambled out of bed to follow the beeping sounds. Were they mine? My neighbour’s? Outside? It took some detective work but I finally narrowed it down to the carbon monoxide detector under the stair.

Inside the lid, however, it explained that those rhythmic beeps meant the battery was deid. Well I had long since lost the instructions and tried to prise it open to replace (or so I thought) the battery. It cannae be done. The whole thing is hermetically sealed. What to do? I had to be in Parliament and couldn’t leave it unattended as neighbours would no doubt have felt compelled to phone emergency services (it was very loud).

I therefore had no option but to carry it beeping into Parly, across the Garden Lobby and up to my office. By now I had a bit of an audience with many suggestions on what to do with my device.

There are bins, of course, but I was pretty sure if I popped it in one of those security would soon have us all evacuated from the building for fear that something less innocent had been deposited so I googled the inevitable internet to find a video on “How to dispose of your Beeping Carbon Monoxide Detector”. Honest. It was a man battering it with a hammer. Many thoughts later and with no hammer to hand we (by now a team was working on this) opted for a “Drown in the Bucket” method of disposal.

It was primitive but effective, although we watched intermittently and cautiously as bubbles emerged and the water heated up while all the while the green light flashed. But no beeps. So there you have it, hammer or bucket or . . . suggestions on a postcard please? Oh and please don’t tell Parly Health and Safety.

Christine Grahame is MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale