Like any other self-respecting university students, we have great difficulty getting up in the morning, and have come to rely very heavily upon our alarm clocks. The problem is- and I'm sure this won't fall upon deaf ears- is that when you start to become familiar with your alarm clock's bleat, you become desensitised to the brain-shatteringly deafening sense of sheer panic that accompanies it, and eventually become quite comfortable in hearing the alarm clock, shooting your hand out like some kind of predator to shut it off, and curling back to sleep in the snugness that is your blanket.
As we all know, completing your degree is a common precursor to employment, and in order to complete your degree, you must attend classes. You may underestimate the importance of this next link in the chain of life, but in a world where classes begin at 8am sharp, and your usual hours of dormancy begin somewhere in the vicinity of midnight or 1am, the alarm clock becomes an invaluable tool in ensuring that you go to class, and therefore complete your degree and get a job- which allows you to earn money, which leads to food (also something that university students prize higher than gold) and the promise of a better life.
So then, the task to which we have assigned unequivocal importance is that of finding an alarm clock that emits such an awful, ear-splitting, gripping sound that you have no choice but to wake up and drag your sorry arse into the shower to begin another day immersed in the pursuit of knowledge. Or booze. Or both, simultaneously, as is usually the case.
And here's the thing: we did it. Or, rather, I did it, with a nifty little $9.95 purchase from Ikea: a black circular alarm clock fashioned in the traditional two-bell-and-clanger format that not only shrills like a banshee, but also shudders its way across your bedside table so that you have to chase it with your predator-arm, usually with the ultimate upshot of knocking the thing onto the floor, where it continues to be vociferous.
Of course, with such a purchase- and the unspoken but universal rules of housemateship - mi casa es K's casa también; the alarm clock is shared. Now, for three months, this hasn't been so much of an issue- we've simply worked it into our routine that every evening preceding an early morning class, you embark upon a minor retrieval operation to collect the clock from across the landing. But - and there is always a but, isn't there? - of course there are days when we are both in need of the alarm clock, and then what began as a minor search-and-rescue becomes a battle strategy of amazing proportions, in which rainbow-coloured socks are launched, cats go flying and full-scale skeletons become barricades for doors.
Needless to say that we reached a point eventually, with Dr Bob the Skellygog's bony hand around K's neck and the cat clinging to my face, that this had to stop. We needed to get a second alarm clock. You can therefore imagine my delight when one evening towards the end of semester I arrive home to discover that K has bought a classy white number in a similar style to the original Bringer of Noise, but which has that French sort of je-ne-sais-quoi chicness to it with fits in very nicely with her bedroom decor. I go to sleep that night safe in the knowledge that I will be awoken at an appropriate time the next morning to hightail it back to Brisbane to enjoy an afternoon transmission from the National Theatre in London of 'Frankenstien' at the Dendy Portside.
Well. I was awoken, but by a cat-to-the-face (also an excellent method of rousing yourself from slumber, although one that is a considerable deal harder to program) and not by my alarm clock. Furthermore, I discover that, unless I had been labouring under the delusion that alarm clocks do not have that rare ability to sprout legs and perform hearty jigs from one room to another, my trusty timepiece has been taken.
I decide it is merely a result of habit; and brush it off- after all, a morning study session is of slightly more import than a frivolous date with le theatre...
... But then four weeks later, when I get back from holiday, and announce my triumphant return, my alarm clock is still. not. in. my. room. It is, in fact, in K's room sitting next to her own, very frenchy, very chic alarm clock, which has no battery in it.
Exasperation does not even begin to cover it.