Tales of the Lecrin Valley

A personal view of life in an andalusian village.

Running an office requires a lot of stationery, and we use Viking Direct, a sort of Spanish Office Depot, to supply our needs.  As we are most favoured clients and spend a lot of money with them we are normally entitled to a free gift of some kind with every order.  So Carmen decided that an all-singing, all-dancing alarm clock would be just the thing.  Now, I have had an alarm radio for fifteen years without it ever having failed to wake me, but as readers of this blog know by now, it is easier to go with the flow as far as Carmen is concerned.  This new thing is quite large and is mounted on two ultra-sensitive pressure pads, which serve a double function of illuminating the LCD display if you press down on the top of the clock when it is dark, and of silencing the alarm for ten minutes after the alarm goes off in the morning.  You can’t have the display on all night as it is so bright that you can see the ceiling joists through the plaster.  So you have to lean over and tap the top to get a three second illumination to let you know the time.  My old clock had a gentle red glow with big numerals that enabled me to open one eye, roll over and go back to sleep; this involves gymnastics I haven´t done since school.  It is a New-Age-Eco-Thing, so the choice of sounds you have to wake you up are either the sound of waves crashing onto a beach, a babbling brook, bird-song or a frog croaking.  Allied to this, the thing has an LCD bulb inside which would put the Eddystone Light to shame.  It is designed to glow with increasing intensity starting ten minutes before the alarm goes off, thereby ensuring that you start to wake slowly as at day-break, so that when the alarm goes off you are emotionally ready for it.  Well, it’s all a load of nonsense.  Firstly, we have a fantastic dawn chorus in the Valley and after a few years of living here you invariably sleep through it.  Or it starts an hour after you need to get up.  Secondly, any man will tell you that the sound of waves breaking or babbling brooks in the morning is not a good idea.  It means that your partner gets the fright of their life as without warning you are out of bed and bolting for the loo, your bladder needing nothing less than the sound of running water first thing in the morning.  So, by a process of elimination, the first thing I hear in the mornings these days is a frog croaking.  Delight!  The light has been immobilised as instead of providing a gradually lightening dawn, its neon light goes off from stage one with such frightening intensity that on the first morning I thought it was the Second Coming.  Carmen found me on the bedside mat in supplication seconds after it lit up.  Also, the pressure pads are so sensitive that anything you try to do sets off lights and frogs.  So to set anything or to turn the thing off you have to pick it up and relieve the pressure from the pads, which is almost impossible when you are half asleep, and try to figure which of the seven buttons to push and for how long.  It has one more week of grace and if it doesn´t sort itself out it’s going to a mission school in Africa where it can be used to confound and convert the natives by producing false dawns and the sound of running water. And then my faithful old alarm is coming back.