There’s a row of buttons beside my bed.
The sort of buttons that you can’t press accidentally; you have to flip up a little safety catch before the magic kicks in. Rather like the “Fire the nukes” switches that my dear late Mother guarded for so many years, in her role as the ‘No, Prime Minister, I’m afraid that I can’t let you do that’ Officer.*
[ * The full M.o.D. records of her military career have never been released to the public but Family records indicate that Mother only ever had to level her gun at a serving Prime Minister twice, and both of those occasions were when Thatcher was angry and upset because Reagan wouldn’t “sleep” with her or had “slept” with her but wasn’t good enough or had refused to take her up the aisle, or something. Mother always substituted the latin words for anything she didn’t want the servants to read, and I can’t be bothered lugging out my English-Latin dictionary to translate ‘and she stormed into the Operations Room after screaming “sodomiticii meum cerebrum excutiunt, puer magnus” and expressing some small dissatisfaction with Reagan’s reply’. ]
So, anyway, these buttons.
There’s Horn, Exterior Lights, Electrify the Hull, Gas Gas Gas, Flamethrower (Manual), Flamethrower (Auto-Mode), and several others that are classified because they aren’t in accordance with the Articles of the Geneva Convention.
The ‘Gas Gas Gas’ switch has a rotary dial next to it that allows me to choose between helium (good if you just want to take the piss out of intruders), nitrous oxide (if I’m going to bury them under quicklime anyway, but want their last moments on earth to be a hoot), methane (gentle persuasion), tear-gas, and dichlorodiethylsulfide (“mustard gas”).
I’ve used ’em on drunks banging on the boat at night.
The safety-catches prevent me from accidentally blowing things up, like bridges, anglers and other boats, when all I am really trying to do is to manoeuvre my love-handles past the switches and down the corridor. I’m not totally heartless.
Last night there was something on the roof; something with claws that scratched and scraped as it went about its nefarious and protracted business.
The intrusion was of sufficient volume for Hind-Brain to wake me.
I selected “Exterior Lights”.
One does like to begin with a certain gentle restraint and only work up to the “You have three seconds to comply – three… two… call the undertaker” options if entirely necessary.
Whatever it was with the claws and the crawly-abouty, scarpered, quick-sharpish.
Praise be to Zeus and others.
Everything sounds louder than it ought when inside a steel boat, especially so during the hours of darkness. I suspect that the heavy-footed intruder was just a rat.
Hobgoblins don’t usually scarper quite so easily.
The CCTV showed a mere blur caught between infra-red mode and the lights. Whatever it was, it was camera-shy.
Remind me to get the rocking chair out this evening, and a rug for my knees (the barrel of the Purdey can be quite chilly when laid across the lap).
I can wait.
Ian H., &
The Death-Star Cardinal W.