Terror at ten and a half feet!

It had been such a good day.  A lovely breakfast, a leisurely day by the seaside and a slap-up dinner on the balcony watching the British Fireworks Championship at Plymouth Hoe.  If only somebody had said they were a week from retirement, we’d have known there was trauma around the corner (clearly I watch too many films).

Plymouth signpost pointing to "other city centre"

Well that clears that up. Thanks Plymouth.

Having been badly let down by TaxiFirst the previous night (us and about a thousand other punters by the look of it) we decided to drive our own cars into town and parked in the Toys R Us car park, carefully chosen to give us as easy an exit as possible.  We even pre-paid for the parking, so we didn’t have to queue for the machine.  Ha!  Clever.

Oh. Except that the queue for the machine is blocking up the stairwell.  Ah well, no problem, the lift’s just arrived so let’s hop in there.  It’s a bit of a squeeze with 12 of us but we’re only going 2 floors.

Ah, 2 floors.  We wish.  We would *dream* of 2 floors.

The lift shuddered gently and farted (though with hindsight that might have been me), the floor display remained resolutely at zero and a big load of nothing happened.

Poke the buttons.  Nothing.  Surely we can’t be stuck?  That doesn’t happen in 2015 does it?  Meh.  Let’s wait a bit.

Any minute now.  Doors’ll open.  Just a second.

Prod the buttons again.  Something’s got to happen.

Nothing.

Bugger.

We’re stuck.  We’re *actually* stuck in a lift.  12 people in a 13-capacity lift.  And fuck me it’s hot.  It must be over 40 degrees C in here already.  We’re all covered in sweat and it’s getting hotter.

Ah well, there’s an emergency button.  We hold it down for 3 seconds and it goes wee-widdly-wee like emergency buttons do and we hear a phone-ringing tone.

“Hello?”

“Yes, hello, we’re stuck in one of your lifts and we’re not going anywhere.  The lift number is 3…4…5…”

“THIS IS AN EMERGENCY NUMBER.  DO NOT USE THIS NUMBER TO REPORT A LIFT MALFUNCTION!”

What?  Is he really interrupting us to tell us not to use the emergency lift button to report being stuck in the lift?  Yes, he actualy is doing that.

As one, the entire lift shouts, “WE’RE STUCK IN THE LIFT!!!!!” and just in the nick of time I manage to stop myself adding “YOU DOZY FUCKTARD!”  Not that it would’ve made any difference.  But I might’ve blamed myself for his subsequent negligence if I’d let myself say it.

What happens next is just surreal.  He says, “what’s the postcode?”

Yes.  Seriously.  He asked us for the postcode of the lift we’re stuck in.  Disbelieving, we look around at each other and a couple of phones appear, with which to look up the postcode.  But he doesn’t wait for that.  He tells us we have to call from an outside line.

I really want you to read that again.  I swear to everything holy that this is exactly what happened.  The guy on the end of the lift emergency button told us that in order to be rescued from a stuck lift, we had to call from an outside line.

AND THEN HE HUNG UP!

So we press the button again.  This time it doesn’t ring, it goes straight to a recording, kindly telling us of their “business hours” and to “press 1″!  In exasperation we press the button for floor 1, just in case, but nobody is surprised when nothing happens.

So the guy had not only hung up knowing there were 12 people trapped in one of his lifts at 11 o’clock at night, he DISCONNECTED THE EMERGENCY LINE!  So basically he’s left us here to die.  And, looking around, some of these faces seem to be barely suppressing panic right now.  And it’s still getting hotter.  We could refill the Dead Sea with the amount of salt water leaking from our pores.

Well there’s only one thing left to do.  Wait until morning.

No, just kidding, we all have phones.  Personally I didn’t expect a phone to work in a metal Faraday cage but it did, which was a massive stroke of luck for us.  So we called 999 and got the fire brigade out.

Unfortunately, for the sake of the story, the fire brigade were *unbelievably* quick and were there within ten minutes.  They prised the doors open a crack and immediately commented on the waves of heat emanating from inside – yes, that’s right, firemen, who go into burning buildings for a living, considered it uncomfortably hot in our little microwave prison cell.

They opened the doors, turned the power off, got us out and that was that.  The whole ordeal lasted less than half an hour so it seems like an anti-climax really.  So, most importantly, a big thank you to the Plymouth fire brigade who responded so very quickly and rescued us.  Let’s give them all a round of applause.  Thank you chaps.

Now.  What next.  What are we going to do about this?

I’m not sure yet.  I’ve contacted the lift company (KONE) by leaving a big assertive post on their Facebook page for everybody to see, so what happens next will depend largely on them.  I’m sending the story to the Plymouth Council and the Plymouth Herald regardless, but I’m not really sure what to do next.  I have no interest in chasing compensation or an apology, but I do feel strongly that I want to plug this loophole.  If, instead of 12 people, we had been one pensioner alone, and that pensioner had no phone or a flat battery, they genuinely could have DIED in there.  I feel this is a purpose.  I think I can save somebody’s life by pursuing this.

So that’s what I’m going to do.  I’m going to get this fixed.  If necessary I’ll go to Chertsey every day and take a big old shit in the reception of KONE’s head office until they take me seriously.  I might even have a vindaloo beforehand just to make a point.

Wish me luck.

The future is worm-shaped

You know when you have one of those ideas, and you know it’s bloody stupid but at the same time it seems kind of brilliant?

No me neither, but this one is at least bloody stupid.

You’ve heard of a wormhole, right?  It’s a kind of cosmic tunnel that links two spots in space (stop me if I get too technical).  We don’t know for sure if they exist but the science suggests they might.

The two ends of a wormhole can be fairly close together – they don’t have to be billions of light years apart.  And I can’t see anything in the description of a wormhole that says the ends can’t point in different directions.

So just imagine.  Just imagine if there was one that looked like this:

So the two ends point at each other and are lined up with a big gravitational source (e.g. a planet or star).  Then stick a rock in the middle.  The rock drops towards the planet, goes into one end of the wormhole and comes out the other end, whereupon it *keeps accelerating* and starts the cycle all over again.  It’ll keep doing this, getting faster and faster.  If I stick a propellor in the way, it’ll whack that and make it turn, then accelerate through and hit it again.  And again, and again, ad infinitum.

Have I just invented a perpetual motion mechanism?

Of course not.  But I’m not quite sure why.