The hazards of alarms
One of the hazards of city life is other people's burglar alarms. In fact the shrill screech of these wretched devices has brought about a significant change in English attitudes - once upon a time we could always rely on neighbours to call the police if an alarm went off. But nowadays everyone's so sick of the sound, nobody tries to be neighbourly. According to a survey 63 per cent of home owners refuse to fit an alarm and of those who do, less than a third bother to use them.
City noise drives people nuts. It also drives them out. Take Mr and Mrs Paul Henry. They moved 78 miles to get away from the racket of London. They were hoping for a peaceful life in the seaside town of Frinton, on England's east coast. From their windows only the song of seabirds and the gentle lapping of the waves could be heard. Until a year ago, when the squeaking began.
It was high pitched and intermittent at first. One squeak, then nothing at all for hours or days. The couple looked in cupboards, behind pictures, under the carpet. They checked all their appliances - explored chimneys, examined the inner parts of the oven. They even scrutinised their grandchildren's toys in case this mysterious sound was coming from a teddy bear's tum or a robot's chest. But all to no avail.
They cut off all the power but the piercing squeaks, which by now were happening every thirty seconds twenty four hours a day, just went on and on. They couldn't sleep. It was driving them mad. At which point Mr and Mrs Henry called in a man with a sledgehammer. One wall was completely demolished in the search. But the squeak continued.
So in a mood of genuine desperation Mr Henry switched off the lights, got on his hands and knees and crawled after the noise. Inside an empty drawer unit that he'd already searched, it got louder. Screwed to the back was an old smoke alarm, with an even older battery. He smashed it to bits, and is now facing a big bill to rebuild his walls. But the silence is golden.
This is Ed Boyle for CBS News in London.
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