August 12 2000
12 Forsythia Grove Outer Hamlet CORSETTSHIRE ZY6 4GT
My Dear Ralph
It has been such a long time since we wrote, hasn’t it dear? I have supposed it must be due to your new relationship with Thule – and recent sojourn to the chilly expanses of Greenland. And I myself have been engaged in the planning of a “Winter Tree Walk” – and all the boning up on the subject of trees – that that involves. Of course, the second I had my first thoughts about preparing a flyer, my little, and exactly hand-fitting, camera decided that its years of happy operation were over – and I have had to go and buy a new one. I have chosen the towering stem of a local Beech tree to feature on my flyer and it certainly is a most impressive image. I am not sure whether I should purchase eight or so hard hats to equip any attendees on my tour of trees with? This may sound slightly over the top, but I will be inviting people into the canopies of very large trees and – on windy/thundery days – one might be slightly more likely to be struck on the bonce by a falling tree or bolt of lighting! Luckily, Beech trees – with their very thin and wettable skins – conduct electricity very rapidly down to the ground. And so that particular tree is most unlikely to explode! Still. Under the canopy, one would still be under the influence of an electrical charge, and I wouldn’t want to have to perform CPR – particularly on individuals uninsured for personal injury (as they would be). What do you think dear?
Meanwhile, I have recently been subjected to the most nosy, and intrusive, questioning concerning my actual whereabouts, by somebody who features at two of my work places and isn’t due to fly back to South Africa until September. This personage is a total stranger and I have been feeling distinctly disinclined to answer questions concerning where I will be, when I am coming, and how long I will be there. Mulling the whole thing over, I decided that she was either just one of those excessively nosy people or might be interested (with associate) in engaging in some form of summer burglary (burglaries do apparently peak during the school summer holidays). And although I do reside in a most inaccessible house – in full view of a pub – I did decide to do some research on simple home alarms. It turned out to be most interesting pet and – despite my massive phobia relating to electronics and actual button pressing – I was very tempted by the type of alarm that detects the burglar and actually phones you up to let you know about it! (I first heard about this on the news, when it transpired that one of the presenters had had to go home because his burglar alarm had phoned him up to let him know that someone had entered his house.)
I decided to equip the device with a roaming SIM (which searches for the strongest signal on any available network) and the most aggravating aspect of the whole set up was to get this SIM card registered and activated. The company selling the alarm had put around five videos on how to program it on to their website so, gritting my teeth with steely determination, I trotted over to the library – equipped with headphones – to go and view the instructions and take copious notes! But actually, it was easy. I fitted the SIM card, and the batteries, and then linked the “remote” to the alarm. I then put the number of the roaming SIM into my phone (so I’d realize it was the alarm phoning) and typed my mobile phone number into the burglar alarm. I did decide to turn off the howling siren effect as, should I be 15, or so, minutes away from the house, the whole street could be paralysed by the 200dB shriek emitted! I also recorded a short phone message (six seconds long) into the alarm’s microphone – and screwed the whole ensemble high up on to the wall. I did, naturally, check that this stretch of wall was actually in receipt of a telephone signal before I did this . . .
And then I decided to find out whether my efforts had worked and that the alarm did work (I naturally assumed that it would be dead as dodo and sit, silently, on its perch on the wall!) But actually pet, I walked into the room and the alarm’s red light immediately flashed on and, about five seconds later, my mobile phone started to ring in the room upstairs. I ran up there and, sure enough, the alarm was phoning to give me the message that I had just dictated into its microphone. Miraculous! I felt exceedingly flushed with my success I can tell you! Technology does move on and sometimes a lot of interesting learning can happen, if one can just push out the boat a little.
Love, as ever
Your Aunt Evangeline