The washing machine was going through a particularly vigorous cycle and emitting a noise that sounded like a tribe of warring Zulus.
I was in the bedroom when I smelt a strange odour and wandered out into the kitchen to find it enveloped in smoke that was coming out of the back of the washing machine.
Immediately I turned it off at the wall and unplugged it but still the smoke came out. In the dim recesses of my tiny mind I remembered news items about recalcitrant washing machines that had burst into flames and burnt down entire houses.
So, being the awfulist that I am, I rummaged round in the phone book looking for the number for the fire station after having made the assessment that dialling 111 was a bit over the top.
I found the number and rang it, and a voice said it was no longer connected, so I rushed over to the laptop and looked up the number which was the same.
No other choice then but to use the dreaded 111 number and having been a toll operator a thousand years ago, I was faintly interested to not be on the receiving end of such a high drama call.
After selecting my service I was immediately put through to the fire station and told a man what had happened, and suggested that because I live a stone's throw down the road from the station I would be much obliged if they could send a chap over to make sure the machine was not going to catch fire.
He asked if all the doors of the flat were shut, which they weren't, so he told me to close the doors and go and wait outside. So I grabbed the slumbering cat who did not thank me for waking him up from his usual deep morning sleep and went and stood outside.
A few minutes later I heard, much to my embarrassment, the familiar approach of the fire-truck siren.
It shuddered to a halt and out poured a full complement of firemen in full kit, oxygen tanks strapped to their backs as I showed them the offending washing machine, apologising for being a drama queen.
To my relief the bloke in charge uttered the comforting words I was longing to hear: I had done the right thing, and it was lucky that I was home and had not, as I usually do, switched the machine on and sloped off.
But I could tell the washing machine was a disappointment to them. I restrained myself from trotting out the cliche: "Nothing to see here lads, now move along please".
But I did ask about the dud phone number in the book and an officer said it dated back to pre-quake days, which was three years ago and a few phone books have come and gone in the meantime.
They all lumbered out of my tiny flat and I felt like a total fraud as I went back into the kitchen.
They got back into the truck and returned from whence they came. Talk about unbridled excitement.
- © Fairfax NZ News