Burning Question

What would you rescue from a burning house?

I already know the answer to this question, because I have faced the situation, but yesterday I asked my students what they thought.


Aeneas Fleeing Troy – Federico Barocci

It seems that Salim would rescue jewellery, laptop and his daughters, in that order, and Sagi – well Sagi didn’t answer as such, but he did tell us a funny story, to the effect that some years ago when he was new in town, he was invited to dinner by a relative of his who happened to be the mayor of the town and a figure of some ponderous dignity. During the course of the meal, Sagi and his flatmate received a call telling them that their apartment was on fire. They phoned for the fire brigade, and then summoned their driver; but while they were waiting for their driver, they had to sit, no doubt somewhat impatiently, through a lengthy toast given by the mayor, wishing them all health and happiness and prosperity and good fortune. And then they dashed home to salvage what they could from the ruins of their lives.

As I say, I know the answer. When the apartment next to mine caught fire some years ago, I had a panicked look around, considered grabbing my laptop, piles of books, documents, and I don’t know what else (jewellery, daughters); but in the end gave a sort of a mental shrug and descended to the street in orderly fashion carrying only my wallet, my phone, and my cigarettes. There is such a thing as maintaining your sang froid, perhaps especially when you stand on the burning deck.