I come in from the garden after lunch to start the washing up. For some unknown reason it is immediately apparent that no less than three ticking timers have all been set to 38 minutes. Four other non- ticking timers have also been set for the same period. They are scattered over every counter surface and even the window sill. I am tempted to seek out the culprit[s] but the kitchen cries out for attention. I sink my hands in the suds and wonder what on earth might be happening in 36 minutes time?
I rinse the glasses first and stack them on the far side, well out of reach and therefore well out of danger. It’s a pity that the ticking sounds of each device can’t be aligned. Each one ticks to it’s own unique rhythm, different from it’s colleagues. This is what it must be like to work in a clock shop.
I consider contacting the authorities to advise them that I have accidentally discovered a far more effective method of punishment than Water Torture. A small person appears in the kitchen and looks around in wonderment. “How many minutes?”
“Um 28 apparently.” He spins off leaving me elbow deep in bubbles but none the wiser. I try to think ahead to snack and then supper. What to prepare, but my brain waves are suffering interference?
My husband emerges, drowsy from his siesta. I am still dubious about this latest campaign, the one that correlates afternoon naps with longevity.
“How are you doing?” he asks amiably, as I scrub the pans with steel wool.
“Fine. I’m just wondering about all the timers?”
I look at him in his state of befuddlement. Perhaps his nerve endings aren’t awake enough to detect the din?
“Yes, the timers. Look! I think every one of them has been used.”
“No. I didn’t use the flat one.”
“The flat one.”
“Er, why didn’t you use the flat one?”
“I’m not sure how it works, too fiddly. I thought I’d get by with the other ones.”
I wait. I wait for an explanation. When it is clear that no explanation shall be forthcoming, I prompt.
“So what is about to happen in 3 minutes then? The end of the world or just life as we know it?”
“What did you set the timers for dear?”
“Oh, just to remind me to turn the water off. Don’t want a flood afterall.”
“Wouldn’t one have done just as well?”
“Well you can’t be too careful. I might not have heard just one.”
“I think you would have heard it if you had had it nearer to you, rather than in here with me.”
“Ah well that was the really clever bit.”
“Which bit of that nightmare was the really clever bit?”
“Well I knew that if I was napping I might not hear it, so I put them in the kitchen.”
“Where I am.”
“Exactly. I knew you’d be here.”
“I am always here.”
“What do you think might happen to me, in the kitchen when 7 timers go off simultaneously?”
“Well, you’d hear them and know that it would be time to turn the water off.”
“You missed a bit.”
“Which bit did I miss?”
“I didn’t know that the water was on in the first place.”
“No. How would I know that the water was on?”
“Can’t you hear it, the water I mean?”
“How could I hear a trickle of water above the din of all these timers do you suppose?”
“Ah. I see. Well, when the timers go off, then it would be quiet again and then you’d hear the trickle of water and know that it was time to turn them off.”
“No I wouldn’t.”
“Because I’d either have suffered a heart attack and be dead as a dodo, or I’d be deaf as a post, take your pick?”