How are you meant to know when the alarm on your electric alarm clock has stopped working? Given the continued digital display from my one’s digital display, I had no reason to doubt that it’s alarm would not sound next morning and much like bonsai trees and wardrobes, had not even considered that it may have a finite life. I can’t even remember when it arrived in my life. OK, it by deduction it came to me sometime after the age of my parents gurgling Goblin Teasmade and that horrid battery-powered black plastic cube I received one Christmas. If that vindictive box’s insistent ticking wasn’t enough to keep me from so much potential sleep, it’s fearsome screeching call panicked me into life on a daily basis throughout the 1980’s. It took its sentinel duty as an alarm clock far too literally. A simple bleep-bleep appropriate to its modest voltage would have sufficed.
Its successor, the mains-driven non-ticking one with no frills but with an acceptably subtle tone for its 5:13am sounding, managed to do the job of stirring me without scaring me awake like a bugle reveille and triggering my fight-or-flight reflex. By way of appreciation, I rarely lost my patience with its lacklustre timekeeping habit of losing a few minutes every week. But then without warning it gave up on the one thing in it had to do in life and went mute. It kept quiet about this. The first time I knew about it was when I awoke in a stew two hours after its programmed time had passed unhailed. The second time I knew about it was the following day, this time an hour and a half over-cooked, having forgotten that it hadn’t rung at the vile hour the previous morning. A quick test proved its voice had gone forever. Any benefit from the extra sleep its malfunction had afforded me over the last two days was more than countered by the number of times my brain woke myself up to check that I hadn’t overslept a third consecutive night.
There was only one thing for it; a trip to my local Argos store after work next evening. Here the catalogue presented me with a sleep-inducing 38 digital alarm clock options.
Hmm. How different could each model be? I narrowed the search by discarding those with features I did not require. Radio?… Nope. Thermometer? …Why? Calendar?…I was prosing sleep sessions marked in hours not weeks. However confusing it got, they all offered an audible alarm, though no information was given about its shrillness or ability to keep the correct time week-to-week. I plumped for the Constant Digital Alarm Clock based on its attractive price. How can anyone make anything for £7.99 and make a profit? The answer soon became clear.
The cardboard box the Constant came in was far stronger than the product itself which felt as flimsy in my hands as a sodden egg box full of scorpions. The flimsy black plastic casing flexed to my touch, seemingly offering scant protection from the 240 massive volts that I had plugged into it, but I reasoned that as I had no intention of ever using it as a hammer, I would make-do. I remained slightly concerned that the gentlest of touches would separate the casing into its two halves, thus exposing its small amount of circuitry and deadly power source, but considered this would be no problem as long as I was considerate and careful when pressing its buttons. Indeed, I managed to set the right time and waking hour without electrocution, or shattering the thing with my minimal grip.
All good, I lay back in anticipation of a restful night and an accurate wake up call. Being midsummer, and preferring a decent bedtime, it was still light outside as I nodded off, comforted that the Constant was by my side, its red display burning surprisingly brightly.
I awoke in the dark of night, not by the alarm, but in fear that my room was on fire, the walls being doused by a threatening red glow. I sprung up to grab my bedside shovel to beat out the flames, to realise the illumination was coming not from a burning tyre in the corner of the bedroom, but the digital display of the Constant Digital Alarm Clock. I resisted the temptation to extinguish it with the shovel and marvelled at the sight of my room, never revealed to me before in the red spectrum. I could have read my book by it, or maybe grilled a slice of toast for breakfast.
Next day, having been reawakened by the alarm at the correct time, I got changed in the bright red light without need to turn on the bedroom light and went down to check the Argos website. I saw that the Constant Digital Alarm Clock has 1,490 reviews. I read the first 10 or so. Maybe I should have read them before securing purchase. Here is a selection of my favourite comments.
- For the price this is a perfectly acceptable piece of kit. As you’d expect, it’s light and plasticky, has the minimum of features, tells the time and will wake you up. The display is excessively bright, we’ve got over this by making a little Thai-style cloth screen to filter it down but you may wish to consider this, it will bathe your bedroom in a lurid red glow at night.
- Had to return it as the light on the numbers was to bright a plane could have landed in the bedroom. l will not say what my daughter said the bedroom looked like.
- So bright it makes your eyes hurt!
- The display is so bright it lights up the room and is painful to look at in the dark. Absolutely ridiculous.
On the positive side, the Constant wakes me up on time every day with an aurally-acceptable monotone beep, and I can probably hot-house flowers in the bedroom. I dread to think what my next electricity bill will be, but who knows – I may save a fortune not needing an electric blanket next winter.
Like this post? Then why not try my book?
PREPOSTEROUS TALES FROM THE NEWBURY SHORT STORY TELLER
16 humorous tales where characters are often bitter, warped, vindictive or skewed.
More twists than the Kennet & Avon Canal.
Available on Amazon in paperbook or E-Reader version by clicking here