Oil Refinery

April 10th, 2009

At 6.00 am on Saturday, I was woken up by a loud bang inside my flat. Initially, I thought it was a thunder bolt but when I realised that (a) It wasn’t raining and (b) If there had been a thunder storm, it would be taking place outside, I guessed a shelf had fallen down. I checked though my property.

I froze when I entered the bathroom. The wooden lid leading to the loft was dislodged. For this to happen naturally, would defy the laws of gravity. I must have an intruder, I thought.

The loft entrance is directly above my toilet so I lowered the seat, stood on it and armed myself with a can of fake-mace (Gillette ‘Arctic Ice’ antiperspirant deodorant). I took a deep breath, pushed up the wooden lid and, unaware that it was facing the wrong way, activated the nozzle. The shock of spraying myself in the face at short range nearly knocked me off the toilet. I composed myself, took another deep breath, stuck my head through the opening and switched on the light. Nothing! I was pumped though. If there had been a burglar, no matter how sweaty he was under his hooded cat suit, I’d have turned him into the most distinctive smelling criminal since Jack the Kipper.

It then occurred to me that the intruder might already be inside. The noise could easily have been caused when the lid slammed down as he lowered himself out of the loft.

I climbed off the toilet, closed the loft properly, upgraded my weapon to a loofa with a wooden handle and checked all my rooms and cupboards. A face full of deodorant was was too good for this scumbag. If he was in my flat, I was definitely going to exfoliate him. I looked out of each window, expecting to see a ladder against the wall. There wasn’t one. However, all was not calm. The alarm at the shop across the street had been activated. Further up the street, a car alarm was also screaming for attention.

Obviously, whoever had tried to break into my flat had tried his luck elsewhere too.

I called the police.

After forty minutes, they answered and – having had plenty of time to let my imagination run riot – I said, ‘I’m not sure whether I need you or an exorcist.’

‘Before I’d qualified my statement, she said, ‘There’s been an explosion at an oil refinery in Hemel Hempstead.’

My response didn’t come out as I’d intended.

“Thank God for that,” I said, “I thought I was being burgled.”