The Gangs All Here… Well Not Quite

There is a story this week from the UK of a Grandmother (45) forgetting her 11 year old grandson was sleeping in the front room when the house caught fire. She saved her four greyhounds but only remembered her grandson after she was safely outside. So too were her 16 year old son and her 28 year old daughter and mother to the still sleeping lad. Fortunately the Fire Brigade rescued the boy. The media of course beat up the story about how she remembered her dogs but not her grandson and left the tut-tutting to the readers and viewers. Of course we would never do anything like that, would we?

The Single Storey Layout Is What We Have

Afterall, the woman had her first child when she was 17 and she had hers when she was the same age so teenage pregnancy and a love of greyhounds obviously rank the woman in the minds of many. In the USA we would be thinking white trailer trash and here in Oz it is ‘Bogan’ time. Funny how we are quick to all too often judge people by socio-economic steretypes based on a few clues given by an increasingly less professional and skilled cadre of journalists writing our opinions and news for us.

They did have a smoke alarm but the batteries were flat. In New South Wales our Fire Brigade advises we change them on the same day every year. I can’t recall if it is 1 April or 1 August. I would think the former is rather apt. It matters not to me as I change the smoke alarm in our bedroom on my birthday and the ones in the kid’s roms on the birthday of the eldest in each room. The one in the hall is neutralized at present as it is poorly positioned and gives too many false alarms.

The cause of the fire in teh UK that had the granny gathering up the grey hounds was a toaster. The other morning we had a close call with out toaster when it was set to high by one of the toddlers the night before. Somehow they had gotten past the kiddy gate and into the kitchen area and adjusted the knob on the toaster. Next morning the eldest is making her breakfast toast and while the toast smoked and burnt for some time, she did nothing but stand and stare. Then she came and reported this to me. I was on the throne at the time and didn’t realise the severity of the situation as the smoke had not made it to the bedroom smoke alarms.

When I entered the kitchen-living room area the place was so full of thick smoke I had to open every window and door I could, then set an electric fan up in the kitchen to blow the smoke out the nearest window. The toast was charcoal and the heat had smudged the cupboard above the toaster and made the wood of the door very warm tot he touch. Not much longer and the place would have gone up. We have fire extinguishers but far better never to have to use them I feel.

It took an hour for the smoke and smell to leave and it was still hanging around later in the day to some extent. It was one of those accidents that can happen to anyone especially with small kids around and we have two of them under 4. I can appreciate the grandmother forgetting her grandson was staying with her and I also wonder why the media picked on her? No mention of the mother of the boy, her daughter who was also there and fled the flames without her child. The youngest son of the grandmother, a lad of 16 was also there and helped her round up the greyhounds (greyhounds in the house and four of them? The mind boggles) so he could have remembered his nephew was sleeping there that morning.

But a fair apportioning of responsibility is not news, is it? Accepting in critical situations people often act irrationally or in ways that in hindsight, far from the maddening crowd of the moment seem incredulous and even ridiculous. But these things happen and we are all easily distracted at different times by different things. Today I let go of the stroller to help a woman retrieve a dropped baby bottle. I forgot the stroller was on a slope and the brake was not on. I gave no mind to the stroller or my baby in it as my attention was focused on helping the woman retrieve her bottle. As I stepped away from the stroller it could easily have rolled down the slope and over the edge of the nearby stairs and sent my child crashing to the floor five or six steps down. Easily done and in hindsight easily avoided but it happened. I accept it did, am grateful there were no consequences and will learn from the mistake. At least it wasn’t on a railway platform with a train pulling in.

So spare a little compassion for those caught up in these tragic calamitous events and don’t be too quick to judge as one day it could easily be you. 20/20 hindsight is a wonderful thing.

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