Pause for Thought with Ray Dadswell: Not so out of place

The fire-alarm going off was due to a malfunctioning air freshener, we were later told.

At around 9 am, the couple of dozen guests at the Travelodge had hurried outside in various states of dress, a game neither warm nor welcome for any of them.

It was a comfort, though, that the emergency services arrived so promptly, and, following a swift, but efficient, check of the building, they opened the doors again to the visitors.

Just once previously can I remember a similar occurrence in which I was indirectly involved.

Swimming in a Butlin’s leisure centre on the bracing Skegness coast. That was probably the more embarrassing overall, but I got myself out of the pool to a sheltered spot easily enough.

It is as well to be prepared, but not paranoid, for such eventualities, isn’t it? Every day we face emergencies of one sort or another. Some we can make use of inner resources to cope, but there are also those for which we need help.

I was not very happy when we flew to Prague the first time to see our son. In order to have the benefit of extra leg-room on the budget airline, I had to accept responsibility for manning the exit beside me in the event of a forced landing. Not a task I would normally choose, thank you!

So I sat more cramped, knees under my chin, on the return journey.

The self-preservation instinct is surely a gift we all receive very early on in life. Then, when danger looms, we are able to respond in a comparatively calm way and, hopefully, assist the people around us.

So why is it, for the otherwise sane, sensible, good-hearted citizens who rub shoulders with us, the sound of a clanging bell is only to be ignored?

The rapid escalation of war on every part of the globe; the obvious far-reaching changes to the seasons; lawlessness on all sides, not least the rule of the knife and the gun ... Are these, together, not a call for us to be looking out for calamity?

Mock as we might, ridicule as we may, the old sandwich-board texts ‘The end of the world draweth nigh’ and ‘Prepare to meet thy God’ are not so out-of-place when we keep our ears and eyes wide open.