The fire alarm at Doncaster Shoppingtown works piercingly well, spearing off the marble floors.
Unfortunately the PA system can’t match it. Its distressed voice (“There is no need to PANIC! Everything is ALRIGHT! Sorry for any INCONVENIENCE!”) battles its own static and the unrelenting screaming siren.
Suddenly the Christmas cheer is seared off the Doncastrian faces.
A woman bending forward to look at diamond embedded brooches is stilled on her stilettos (she’s a goner if there’s a fire), her face encrusted with fret.
The wealthy and privileged elderly, protected for most of their lives from the elements, from synthetic fibres, and from the stench of rubber in Big W, look like they are confronting fear for the first time.
One of them has neat hair and a faux Navy officer jacket with the big gold buttons (I wonder if Steve Liebmann is still wearing one, now that he actually is old) framing his quivering lips as the bone-shattering noise assaults him.