It had started out as the evening of dreams. I had successfully managed to make a meal using my spiraliser and was settling in to watch ‘First Wives Club’ with my housemate.
So well was it going that we had even agreed that as I was the most likely of the two of us to wear white leather trousers, for today I could be Goldie Hawn. (I’m really Diane Keaton but everyone deserves to be Goldie once in a while.)
That’s when we first heard the noise. A beeping sound that I usually associate with the dishwasher coming to the end of its cycle. My housemate burst into the sitting room.
'What was that noise?’
'Erm. It was the dishwasher, no?’
'That is not the noise the dishwasher makes. Have you checked the carbon monoxide alarm lately?'
'Erm. No. But I do have an irrational fear of carbon monoxide poisoning that stems from an episode of Hollyoaks where all of the students died in their sleep. Also our boiler has been breaking a lot.’
We checked the alarm. It said 'go to fresh air.’ We were not about to take any chances.
Within seconds my housemate and I had convinced ourselves that we were feeling light headed. I fabricated a persistent migraine and convinced myself that there was more condensation than usual on my bedroom window. We had to evacuate.
I called home to check the rationality of my claim. Dad answered the phone.
'You’re quite right darling. You can’t take chances with these sorts of things. Best stay somewhere else tonight.'
His corroboration was all we needed. Liv and I decided to drive to her parents’ house in Surrey. It was the only place where we would be safe. I called my other housemate and told her to come home immediately. She was back from the gym and needed a shower. I told her she couldn’t risk her life. At this point Liv remembered that she’d left her ipad inside. We sent Anna in to get it. She hadn’t been inhaling the poisonous fumes for as long.
A this point, a man who lives in the halfway house next door, leaned out the window and shouted at me to shut my trap. I told him that there was a gas leak and we were concerned for our health before turning to go to the car.
'If you’ve got something to say to me you can say it to my face.’
I turned. He spat at me. I must have looked pretty threatening. All 5 ft 4 of me in my flannel pyjamas.
Soon, Liv and I were in the car, clutching a packet of Xanax. It’s worth mentioning that my mother had yet to comment on the night’s proceedings. She is undoubtedly better acquainted with my tendency towards melodrama than my father. She once looked after me when I was coming off prozac and I threatened to throw myself into the garden pond every morning for a month. I never got past the jetty.
Roughly 30 minutes into the drive we realised that we may have overreacted. We decided to take a detour in Wandsworth and went to Liv’s sister’s house. We called the British Gas hotline. They needed to come over and check out the boiler immediately. We had driven halfway across London for nothing.
On the way back, I decided to buy and stress eat the entire Marks and Spencer’s party aisle in a petrol station. After inhaling a family pack of sausage rolls and a lot of pic n mix cheese, the likely outcome of our drama became mortifyingly clear. It can’t have all been in our heads.
I called my friend to ask if we could stay at hers if our house was poisoned. She laughed so much she cried. The game was up. Could it have actually been the dishwasher?
The Gas man came. Halfway house man was back. This time trying to incite a race war by insisting that people couldn’t just walk in here expecting it to be a white area. He explained that he was mixed race but his kids would turn out whiter than us. I was baffled. The gas man explained he was there to do his job. Half way house man was apoplectic. I wondered if he was the same man who frequently woke me in the night playing 'Rhythm is a Dancer’ at full volume.
The Gas man left. I ate constantly throughout his visit. There was no carbon monoxide. The alarm had not gone off. We were safe to sleep in our beds without risk of a silent, odourless killer.
FYI: If you haven’t seen 'First Wives Club’ it’s on Netflix and is amazing. Also I’m the blonde.