My sister left a message on my phone, “Don’t panic, but we’ve had a small fire.” I called her.
My mother had put a leftover piece of Christmas hamper wrapping on the fire expecting it to turn to ash but it seemed to be made of sterner stuff and flared in an alarming manner [I think it was some kind of wood-like substance but I am unclear. Evidence is now burnt.] My mother yanked it out of the fire still burning. My parent’s front door can only be opened with a key (yes, from the inside and the outside, yes, I know it is spectacularly awkward) so in her wisdom, my mother decided to bear her burning wrapping to the back door – through 4 rooms. My father who was, until her arrival, sitting happily in one of them, leapt to his feet and opened the door for her. My father is 87 and normally walks with a stick. We can take this as a sign of the urgency and excitement attending my mother’s adventure or, alternatively, he is only pretending with that stick.
My brother was in the breakfast room and my mother asked him to open the back door. My brother has a fatal desire to get to bottom of everything and insisted on asking how on earth this had happened as my mother stood holding her makeshift torch and dropping bits of flaming wrapping on to the floor. My sister at this point rushed in and opened the back door, tossed out the burning wrapping and doused it with water.
“What lessons did we learn from this adventure?” I asked my mother. “That everyone is very slow except for your sister. And also that it’s very hard to get out of this house.”