3 May 2011

A very fiery Christmas

It was Christmas 2009 and my parents (aka Grandma and Granddad) were staying with us. Busy-And-Important-Husband usually cooks on such occasions, but I declared this would be my year.

Grandma nervously reached for her wine as I cooked (especially when I dry-retched as I stuffed the turkey), but somehow I served up a pretty decent spread. We sat down, clunked our champagne glasses and tucked in – failing to notice a forgotten pot boiling over.

Two mouthfuls in I heard the clicking noise. I left my meal and found the hob with the forgotten pot sparking. I turned it off but the sparking continued. One-by-one my family left their meals until we were all standing over the stove scratching our heads.

Always one for playing things by the book, Busy-And-Important-Husband flicked through the stove’s instructions and diagnosed a flooded starter-motor, declaring the best remedy was a hairdryer to dry it out.

“A hairdryer? You can’t be serious?”  I nervously questioned.

Before I knew it, Granddad and Busy-And-Important-Husband were taking it in turns to blow my Toni and Guy full strength into the sparking hob.

“This doesn’t seem right. Are you sure we’re doing the right thing?” I implored with visions of a singed Granddad flying through the air, hairdryer still in hand. 

Being Christmas Day there was no one we could call for help - well, apart from 000 of course.

“NO! You are NOT calling 000,” said Busy-And-Important-Husband at my suggestion.

“But I’m just going to ask for advice – the hair dryer thing seems a bit dodgy,” I argued.

“We’re doing exactly what the instructions said to do. DO NOT CALL 000.”

The hob kept sparking. The hair dryer kept blowing. Grandma kept drinking. My miraculous Christmas roast was now cold finger paint for my kids.

“That’s it,” I muttered to myself as I took my phone and champagne down the hallway.  When I was safely out of earshot, I dialed 000.

“Emergency – police, fire or ambulance?” answered the officious voice.

“Oh, um. Well, I don’t actually need any of those. I was just wondering if I could get some advice,” I whispered into the phone.

“Police, fire or ambulance madam,” repeated the voice.

“Well, none...at the moment. You see, my stove is sparking and my father is blowing it with a hairdryer and I just wanted to get some…”

“Hold please,” said the voice.

I took a sip of my champagne.

“Fire services,” said a warmer sounding voice.

“Oh! (gulp) I’m ringing for some advice. My pot boiled over and the hob is sparking, and my father is using a hair dryer, because that’s what the instructions said, but I’m not so sure. Could I get some advice?”

“We’ll send someone around now.”

“Really? Even though it’s Christmas Day?” I said relieved. I gave the nice man my address and trotted back down the hall, champagne held victoriously in the air.

“It’s OK everyone. Someone is coming around now to have a look.”

“Who?” said Busy-And-Important-Husband, whipping around from the stove, pointing the hairdryer at me. “You called 000 didn’t’ you?” he accused.

“Well, yes I did. But the nice man said they would send someone over just to take a look, even on Christmas Day. Isn’t that good of them? He must live locally because he said he’ll only be a few minutes.”

That’s when I heard the siren. The blood drained from my face as the wail got louder. Busy-And-Important-Husband pushed past me. “That better not be what I think it is.”

The red lights flashing through the front window confirmed his fears. “Oh my god. You can deal with this,” he said storming off.

I greeted them on the driveway – all five of them – as they grabbed their hats, and jumped off the truck.

“What’s the situation?” one of them asked.

“Oh dear. I wasn’t expecting this,” I apologized with my hand over my mouth.

All of a sudden there was flash. “Smile!” said Grandma, camera in hand. “Well, it’s not every Christmas you get a visit from the fire brigade,” she enthused.

“NE NAW NE NAW NE NAW,” screamed the kids as they ran up to the truck.

“How about you take us inside, while your mum and Larry show the kids the truck,” said the firewoman (yes, it was a woman, and she clearly felt my pain).

As the fire crew stomped in to the kitchen, Busy-And-Important-Husband tried to spontaneously combust me with his eyes. The ever-dedicated Granddad, however, was still blowing away at that hob.

“You can probably stop that now sir,” said the firewoman. Granddad reluctantly put the hairdryer down – he was clearly having the most fun he’d had for ages.

The firemen looked up, down and behind the stove, twiddled a few knobs, and then like magic, the sparking slowed down…and then stopped.

“What was it?” I asked them.

“Not sure really. But it seems to have stopped now. Could have been the hairdryer,” one of them shrugged. Granddad smiled to himself.

“Say cheese!” said Grandma with her camera. “The kids are having a lovely time out on the truck,” she giggled.

“I’m so sorry to waste your time, especially on Christmas Day,” I said, nearly crying with embarrassment. I offered them some beers, which they dutifully turned down. Grandma took one more photo for prosperity and I pried my kids off their truck.  The story is now family history.

Grandma is proud of her pictorial account of the day, Granddad’s eyebrows stayed in tact, Busy-And-Important-Husband eventually spoke to me again, and now every Christmas the kids ask when the fire engine will arrive, because that’s what happens on Christmas Day – well, at our house anyway.

"Can I just have some advice on this hob here please?"
"Bye! Thanks for coming! See you next year!"


  1. Oh that's so funny - you are a classic :O)

  2. One part of me laughs...

    But my husband is a volunteer firefighter, and if he and his colleagues were called out on Christmas Day for something like that, away from their own family gatherings, well...

  3. LOL!!! That's so funny! I thought it was going to be much more disastrous than that! Oh well, I bet you anything those firefighters have the best all out story now: The Woman Whose Hob Did Spark!

  4. Rest assured Megan. They were actually in the station playing cards when they got my call, wishing they were with their families. They were already on duty. I would have felt a gazillion times worse if they had left their families. They were so good about it and even said they were glad to have an excuse to get out of the station.

  5. Fireys are lovely, aren't they :)

  6. Especially the ones that came to my house that day...they were wonderful.