False Alarms Set off by Headboards That Go Bump in the Night

Cape Times (South Africa), November 4, 2010 | Go to article overview

False Alarms Set off by Headboards That Go Bump in the Night


OUR house alarm has gone off mysteriously at all times of the day and night, but never for the reason discovered in the parliamentary villages of Acacia Park, Pelican Park and Laboria Park.

Parliamentarians couldn't understand why about 98 percent of the 2 500 call-outs to the police were false alarms. Then ANC MP George Lekgetho, who lives in one of the villages, put his finger (as it were) on the problem. He explained to fellow MPs: "Our headboards are so close to the alarm buttons against the wall, they hang loose."

When his colleagues began giggling at the implications of this statement, Lekgetho felt a further explanation was necessary. "They hit against it," he said, and only then realised the reason for his listeners' increasing hilarity.

As in, oh shucks, what have I said?

All the villagers should know by now that when the alarm goes off, headboards must once again have gone bump in the night. If Lekgetho is right, armed response are responsible for more than 2 000 cases of Headboardus Interruptus.

The trouble with false alarms is that they are so frequent, neighbours rarely take any notice of them. Except that our alarm, which sounds like an air-raid siren, was going off so often that one neighbour quite justifiably complained. It usually waited until we went off for the weekend somewhere, then woke everyone up at 2am.

The security company would ring us to say they couldn't find anything untoward, and we would ring up our long-suffering friend Neville, who lives round the corner, and ask him to investigate. At one stage I think he was afraid to go to bed until we had rung him to say the alarm had gone off again. …

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