OUR doorbell had decided to work, so I noticed that someone wished to speak to us.
As the doorbell had made a special effort, and because I am a naturally polite person I opened the front door to our neighbour.
‘We have a fire.’ He announced in neutral tones.
Yes I know you have, I thought. We’ve got a fire too, so what are you boasting about?
‘In the campo at the top of the estate.’ Ah! That’s different.
‘Can you ring the Bomberos?’ 112 duly answered, and I told them in Spanish that we had a fire in the campo, and needed the Bomberos.
‘One moment. I will put you through to someone who speaks English.’
My heart sank. After a minute or so of mechanically mangled Mozart the English speaker spoke. ‘What is the problem?’
I repeated the story so far. ‘Is the fire in a house?’ ‘No, it’s in the campo.’ ‘Is it a big fire?’
‘It’s getting bigger all the time.’ I wished to inject a sense of urgency into the conversation.
‘Is anyone injured.’ ‘No.’ I didn’t add ‘except my patience.’
‘Are there houses nearby?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Is the fire in a house?’ Deep breath. ‘No, it’s in the campo.’
‘Are any people injured.’ Deeper breath. ‘No.’ ‘What service do you require?’ I felt like saying What do you suggest?
‘The Bomberos.’ I answered with superhuman control.
Will the words ‘fire’ and ‘Bomberos’ strike a chord, or will we all be fried?