Siren Call 

The morning tea obsessives were busy filling an area dangerously close to my desk with all manner and variety of calories this morning when they were rudely interrupted by the fire drill. The last time we had a drill, a number of volunteers wearing hard hats stood in front of the door, clearly marked FIRE EXIT and asked us all to wait while the floor above evacuated – and presumably we all roasted to death in the event of a real fire.

I raised this at the next safety meeting, pointing out that perhaps it was a better idea for those nearer the ground to evacuate first, given that they could all be out by the time it took those on floors five and six to get near them. Today, though, I did not wait to find out if my feedback had been implemented. As soon as the alarm sounded, I grabbed my bag and iPad and was off down the stairs before anyone in Hi Vis had got anywhere near the door.

The morning teas in my office are extensive and delicious and are used by the staff to raise money for the Xmas party, which is why they start just about a week after Xmas and continue mercilessly throughout the year. One or two people volunteer to bake and everyone else chips in a ‘gold coin donation’ – gold being the colour of the aussie dollar – for a slice of fat and sugar. As it may have become clear by now, I am trying my best to avoid such treats, although my weight loss, which was slow to start with, appears to have slowed down even more, so it is getting harder. Nevertheless, I have voluteered to bake my famous lemon sponge for one of the teas in July and in the meantime will grit my teeth and try to resist the weekly temptations as well as the other morning teas for various birthdays, job changes, retirements and basically any day with the letter Y in it.

Later this afternoon, I was listening to a podcast. My current binge listening is Scriptnotes and I am making my way through the extensive back catalogue. One of the hosts, John August was describing a night at home in LA when he heard noise outside his house and looked out to discover two police cars at the top of his driveway and a police helicopter circling overhead. He mentioned it because at first his primary focus was to explain calmly to his very young daughter what was going on, while basically securing his property against invasion by murderers, but then he noticed that the light from the overhead helicopter, which was intensely bright, was casting shadows from the trees onto his driveway and the movement of the helicopter was making it look like the shadows were performing an amazing dance on his front yard. He said he would almost certainly incorporate this into a screenplay if he got the chance – and as he has written a few since that incident occurred in 2011 it is entirely possible that he did.

In an unlikely coincidence though, as I was walking the dogs up the road, a police car went past us, sirens blaring and only a few minutes later – and pretty much just as I was listening to the John August story, a police helicopter flew overhead and then started exercising a wide sweep of the area. It probably flew over my house around ten times while other police car sirens wailed in the distance. It was still light, so unfortunately I did not get the dancing trees of the August story too, but I did step out into the back yard and look at the sky to see what the pilot was up to.

My reward was an unusual sunset. A sky that was still light and the palest of blues, with thin square patches of ragged cloud arranged in elaborate pink arcs as they were tinged by the setting sun. The sky looked as if it had been tie-dyed and it was beautiful. My day had been bookended by sirens, but on this occasion at least, it was good to think that this final alert had served as a reminder of the free pleasures that can often be found, simply by looking up.

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