Diction of Dock Green, in association with Inspector Flap T of The Yard. #narrowboat #England

Lo, baddery.

Low baddery.

There are six robots aboard nb Cardinal Wolsey that are designed to do nought but sniff and screech and scream. Two sniff for LPG, one sniffs for smoke, one sniffs for carbon monoxide, and two sniff for both smoke and carbon monoxide. They are a variety of makes and models, some powered from the boat’s main battery bank, some sealed and some with replaceable badderies. Jebus H., they’ve got me doing it now.

I was woken this morning into a slight confusion, with one of the two whose job it is to sniff for both smoke and, separately, carbon monoxide, announcing to me either that this is a quite safe, low “baddery” neighourhood, or that, lo – there was some baddery going on that I ought to be aware of. Upon investigation it was neither, but simply that the device was hungry, its baTTery being almost spent.

I was temded, sore temded, to pud id in a bucked of warDer and to hold it under until it stopped breathing. Instead though, I spent a tenner at the local rip-off shop for two new 9v baTTeries, one for each of the two of that type, my logic being that the other ought to be similarly near expiry.

One thing that I did notice though was that I have been failing and failing quite miserably in my duty of care to these two robods. Um, roboTs. I noticed in the small print on the label to the device’s rear (ooh, er, missus) that I ought to have been vacuuming them at least once a month. Like most folk, I test the push button once a week and then hurriedly stick my fingers in my ears before the screeching and warning begins. Unlike most folk, being a nerd, I have also got cannisters of CO and fake-smoke with which to test the sensors. However, I had never given a thought to vacuuming out the dust and cobwebs from the workings – and there were indeed some of both inside to be vacuumed away.

You may wish to have a look at your own smoke & CO alarms, and check whether you have been as guilty as have I of such domestic sluttery.

Mine are all now nicely Hoovered. I mean Dysoned. Um, Electroluxed. Vacuumed?

All but the LPG alarums will have to be replaced soon anyway, the They Who Must Be Obeyed in charge of Boat Safety Standards and wotnots have changed the regoolations, making the CO/Smoke beasties both mandatory and specifying only a particular type with a very particular code number. The Cardinal is due for his once every four years safety inspection and re-certification at the end of next year. Whether these new, approved types will also have little electronic voices similar to a Chicago gangster’s gum-chewing moll I do not know.

Perhaps they’ll be Welsh?

Look you, boyo, it’s smoke that I can smell, and a little of the monoxides of carbon too yes it is. Get you out and stay you out, while I call the fi-yah bri’gade from the vill-idge.

Perhaps the electronic voice will be Scottish?

Aye, you’ll be wantin’ to rise from yer bed, laddie, tis the fiery smokes o’Hell and the poisons of the clan McCarbon McMonoxide that’s comin’ tae get ye. If ye care fer ye life at all ye’ll scram and scram noo.

Perhaps they’ll be English, just for a change?

Oh I say, gosh one does regret the disturbance but, um, well, dash it all the ruddy place is full of smoke and, between you, me and the gatepost, I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t a spot of that noxious gas stuff about too – CO, or whatever it’s called by the science chaps. Perhaps a stroll outside, while we check what’s what, eh? There’s a good fellow, on with your slippers now, as quick as you like… oh gosh, I feel quite light-headed, would you mind awfully if I sat down?

Perhaps the manufacturers will introduce a Shakespearean version?

Verily and forsooth a foul pestilence of the air is upon us, sire. Flee! Flee! It may even be more than flee, it may be four! Capulets! Montagues! Thou hast not time to fix thine doublet and hose, run naked into the night and raise the alarm, raise the city guard, raise a nice crop of spuds if thee must. Is this a stove I see before me? Tis as an dagger to mine lungs and will be an end of us all. Flee! Flee! Flee fly fo fum, I smell the fumes of an English mun…

[Not terribly good at speaking The Shakespeare, so sorry.]

The moral of the story, the long and short of it, is – introduce your smoke and CO alarms to the attentions of the vacuum cleaner once in a while. I shall be doing so regularly from now on. No idea why I had’nae thought o’it afore. Thick as three short planks, I suppose.

Fiver a ruddy battery indeed. It’s daylight wobberwy.

Nothing much else to report, really. We are coiled like a serpent, ready to make another mad, glacially-paced dash forward in our quest to avoid the winter enstoppinations. The wind of the next couple of days is rumoured to be amenable. We shall see.

There’s broccoli for tiffin, and cabbage. Spuds and carrots too. I foresee the day hour when a whole pot of faux not-quite but nonetheless tasty colcannon substitute shall be ranged afore me. With lashings of pepper. Yum et, not to put too fine a point on it, yum.

Anyway. Smoke and CO alarms. Checkum. Ya knows ya oughda.

Chin-chin for the mo.

Ian H., and his amazing talking alarms.


  1. I did not know to vacuum them either.
    The most attention they get from me is
    a. A lot of towel waving when my various cookery upsets them. It’s kind of offensive, really.
    b. I change the battery on the spring time change. And they better be damn grateful for that, honestly.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for the advice but I feel that my smoke alarm will never need the light touch of the vacuum as it shrieks every time I so much as ignite the gas cooker and my gentle hands polish it as I wrench it off it’s ceiling mount and eject said battery thus eliminating the need to clean. Next day i replace it until the evening when we start the said process again.

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    1. I must at least in part concur, sir – one of my alarms goes by the name of “Mr Toast-Alarm”… the slightest hint of cooking, and he’s wailing. 🙂

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  3. Maybe in Oirish:
    Top o’ the mornin’ to ye, me foine fugure o’ a man – ye might be after tinken ‘bout scraping some coppers together and gettin’ yersel’ some new batteries before ye burn yer pogue (Gaelic for ars*) some fine night.
    And don’t forget to dust yer gadgets!

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    1. The more I think about it, the more I have that needs a damned good vacuuming – the perils of age, methinks. Annoyed at myself really, I take the Black & Decker (12v hoover) to the laptop once a week or so, but had never thought of the dust and cobwebs gathering INSIDE the alarms – I hang my head in domestic shame, and will be handing in my spatula and apron as soon as HQ opens tomorrow morning. 😉

      Do the great apes need smoke alarms, or are your noses sensitive enough to do without, when in the wilds?

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