A beautiful morning, and the last runner in the Jersey Spartan AC Half-Marathon had just gone by my marshaling position in St Clement. There I was chatting with Derek, an old friend, when we hear a voice behind us. ‘Help, help! My house is on fire!’ There, jumping about in the road, was a young lad wearing only his boxers. It was clear that he was serious. Derek made a beeline for the house in question, I dialed 999.
In the few minutes before the fire engines clanged along from town the kitchen fire had been dealt with and everybody was safe. I was, of course, glad about that but in a way felt a bit guilty that two units of Jersey’s finest had nothing left to do other than check things out. Still I know they’d rather be attending emergencies rather than eating egg and chips and practicing sliding down their poles.
Fires don’t translate so well into literature. One scene that sticks with me is from one of my favourite reads Trinity by Leon Uris. The book itself is magnificent, telling a story of Ireland from three differing viewpoints – Catholic, Protestant and landed gentry. The scene in question is a fire in a linen factory in Belfast (if memory serves me correctly) with security such that escape from the factory for the Catholic workers is impossible. The description of the blaze and those trapped by it sends ice through your veins.
If you get a chance, read the book. But I don’t want to end Sunday on a tragic note. Have you heard about the blonde whose house was on fire? ‘Help’ she shouts into the telephone, ‘my house is on fire!’ The man at the other end says ‘It’s all right luv, don’t panic, how do we get to your house?’ The blonde thinks for a minute then replies ‘Duh, use the red truck!’