Mike Fahey: The problem of having an alarm that would wake the dead, or even the deaf!

Posted on September 17, 2015

We are just back from a trip to the Outer Hebrides which, in order to catch the evening ferry from Uig on the Isle of Skye across to Harris and Lewis required an early start of 4am.

As is my usual way when we have deadlines, I tend to err on the side of extreme caution, as my family know, as family taxi driver I hate to be rushed and would much rather turn out early and take my time.

Nothing makes me more stressed and angry than rushing through traffic in order to catch the 9am train or whatever. Of course there are the safety aspects of driving when in a state of panic about getting people to work on time etc. My sending members of my family to A&E are not to be thought of… and that’s before we get in the car!

Anyway back to the early start. Being deaf I mostly rely on my hearing wife Sara to nudge me when the alarm goes off in the morning and I take pride in the fact that I am pretty good at responding, hitting the snooze button before you can say “Bobs your Uncle” The second nudge however is NOT a nudge… but a Muhamad Ali type thump which ensures I’m awake and the kettles on before my feet hit the floor!

At this point I must explain that my phone is also my alarm clock, not my new phone but my old one which has a much more powerful alarm/vibration which would wake the dead, or even the deaf!

I must also say that I am slightly paranoid about missing an important alarm call so I use any means possible to make sure I am up on time. Of course being a worrier I also set my new phone, my wife’s phone and also for good measure the Kindle all at slightly different times and place them on the other side of the room so I HAVE to get up or risk expiring when Sara attempts to strangle me!

So that morning everything ran very smoothly, up at first alarm (as you do when you are excited and ready for your holidays) Breakfast, quick run with Jazz the dog, (who was totally confused at the early start!) a few odds and sods to put in the ready packed car and off we go… only 20 minutes later than we planned… and let me tell you that’s really, really good in our house!

Determined to make good time and Glasgow before the rush hour traffic, we hit the M6 and are soon leaving the hills of the Lake District behind.

Time: 29 minutes Past 6am:

All well and everyone (Sara and the dog) relaxing into the journey.

Time: 30 minutes Past 6am: (this is the time we get up normally on any work day)



Sara…What’s that?

Me… What?

Sara… That noise!

Me… I can’t hear nowt!

Dog… Wuff Wufff… howwwl…

SaraIt’s your phone alarm…

Me I’m driving! You deal with it…

Sara Where is it?

MeNot a clue…

She finds it in the dashboard pocket and switches it off. Peace. Carlisle on the horizon.

Time: 35 minutes past 6am:

Hard nudge!

MeHey!… what now?

Sara, Slightly annoyed …Your old phone alarm!

DogAwooo woof woof!

Even Harder nudge…

Sarawhere is it?


MeFocusing on my driving … Behind the seat in my jacket I think…

After a few minutes rummaging at the back of the seat, the alarm is silenced, one very black look from Sara fired in my direction and all is quiet again and the journey continues.

Time: 7am:

Unknown to me the alarm begins to blare from the kindle fire which is packed in the food box in the boot of the car.


SaraStop at the next services…please…


SaraSo I can thump you properly!

Note to self… remember to cancel normal working day alarms when going on holiday!

Mike is a semi retired Fine artist working from his Home studio in Lancashire. He attended University as a mature student, gaining his BA and a Masters degree in Fine Art. He displays his work in exhibitions around the UK and abroad.  As a profoundly deaf lip reader, he is just one of a large family with a genetic history of deafness. Mike is married to Sara (who is hearing) and is father to a son Jonathan (hearing) and a daughter Katherine (deaf on one side) In October 2014 Mike underwent surgery to have a Cochlear implant fitted and is presently enjoying learning to hear again. The implant has been good for him, but, as he is constantly reminding people, he still considers himself a profoundly deaf lip reader… “The CI is really good and certain people think it’s a miracle cure for deafness but no… I still need to focus really hard on lip reading and communication in daily life… and when I take the processor off… its quite a blissful sensation, the quietness.”

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