Thursday evening, January 5, two bottles into a business dinner, my wife Ilona phoned to say that our London house was on fire. She assured me that everyone was fine (our four sons, ranging from 14 to 20 were in town), but that perhaps my blood pressure would be better served if I didn’t return home for the evening. I didn’t take that as an encouraging sign.
Before the taxi could reach my destination, I was waived down by the pack of firemen from the fleet of trucks instructing us the street was closed. When I mentioned it was my residence, they radioed that the “key-holder” had arrived but wouldn’t grant me access. I frantically asked where Ilona was before finding her ensconced in the back of a ladder truck. It was like a scene from a boxed-set drama series. There were onlookers, hoses snaking from the street into the front door, and a firefighter on a cherry picker spraying away into the bedroom of Sage, my youngest child.