Monday, 7 December 2009

Lighting the darkness

This was the scene in our snug late in the afternoon, last Monday.


Romantic, festive, cosy? None of these.

About four thirty last Monday afternoon, I was enjoying a cup of tea in the kitchen when there was a very authoritative knock on the front door. I did not dare to not answer the door and on opening it found that it had become dark, while I had enjoyed my cup of tea and the porch light was not on. Standing on the door step, in the darkness, was a man dressed in a boiler suit and wearing a helmet which incorporated a small light over his forehead. Not really what you expect to find on your doorstep at four thirty in the afternoon, but nothing surprises me these days. He resembled a coal miner, but even in the dark I could see that he looked too clean. He started by informing me that he was from Scottish Power. Cheshire, by the way, is not in Scotland but our electricity is supplied by Scottish Power and I do wonder what will happen if Scotland gets the independence that it is hankering after. He then went on to say that they were going to have to take our power out for about 20 minutes, in ten minutes time, because the local farmer had noticed that the power was flickering.

What immediately went through my mind was 'why now?' It was dark, the children would be just home from school and it was very cold. The first frost of the winter was forecast for that night. Why couldn't they have switched off our power during daylight hours? It would still have been cold, but it would at least have been light. Any way there was no time for dithering around. I had to find a torch, candles and matches. Then phone husband to ask what to do with the computers. He reckoned that if the power were only off for 20 minutes that the UPS (uninterruptible power supply) would look after the computers and I did not need to do anything with them. Ten minutes came and went and the power did not go off. I pottered around the cottage doing odd jobs. My list of power assisted, to do, jobs went out of the window. It was a bit like being in the dentist waiting room. Ten minutes eventually turned out to be about 30 minutes and suddenly it was pitch dark. Now I realised that I was the only mug around with candles and a torch in the darkness. One set of neighbours was out and the other set went out rather than face the reality of a power cut. When I was a student, when the power went off, we used to go to a pub in an area where the power was on, but there is something a bit sad about a middle aged woman sitting in a pub on her own at five o'clock in the afternoon. I had not drawn the curtains and looking out of our windows it looked as if there was a light, from somewhere, outside. An almost full moon shone out of a clear inky blue sky and the first stars of the night were up. Twilight, I suppose you could call it.

The 20 minute outage became 30 minutes, then 40 minutes, then eureka we had power again! Now I had the task of adjusting the clocks on the oven and microwave to the correct time, resetting the burglar alarm and altering the automatic timers. Then I had the computers to sort out. Surprisingly my laptop survived unscathed but the two computers that are connected to the desk top screen both had to be rebooted. The UPS is only good for about 15-20 minutes. All that nicely took up two hours of last Monday. I do hope that it is not going to be a long Winter.

21 comments:

Jennyta said...

Makes you realise what long, long nights people endured during the winter months before the advent of electric light. The trouble these days is that practically everything you would want to do requires power.

Sandi McBride said...

I hope you at least topped up your tea while all this life was going on about you! I can't remember one time when we lived in England that we had bad weather, power outages, or even a clap of thunder. Hope they got your neighbor's problem taken well care of!
Sandi

Gilly said...

Well, I hope all that inconvenience sorted out the flickering farmer!

I can remember the winter of 1976 - candles, camping gas lights, etc. shops using candles, going to work only in daylight.

Ugh!

French Fancy said...

That made me laugh - the bit about you sitting in the pub in the afternoon. I can still vaguely remember the 3 day week and the trouble it caused my mum trying to plan meals

Akelamalu said...

I remember the regular power cuts during the 3 day week in the
1970's we practically lived by candlelight! :0

Scriptor Senex said...

When I had a caravan the power used to go out regularly as trees came down on the lines. I got quite used to it. The main frustration was being unable to use the laptop. One day it lasted longer than usual so I sought out the site manager as evening came on and asked if he’d heard when it was coming back on. He said it wasn’t out! Upon investigation it turned out I’d blown the caravan fuses with my morning kettle and unnecessarily been without power all day.

I loved the three day week - it was worth the power cuts to be on leave an extra couple of days.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

It isn't nice when you have a power cut in the middle of winter; I would have been a little perturbed to find someone like that stood on my doorstep!

We currently have no heating because our boiler blew up yesterday and it won't be fixed until next Wednesday!

CJ xx

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Utility companies and government bureaucracies...always impeccable in their timing...LOL...Sorry about the power outtage...hope it isn't a long winter as well...We had an early snow last weekend...does not bode well...sigh...Sending you love and warm thoughts~Janine XO

lakeviewer said...

Oh, how I ate when that happens. Is your heating electric? In our house, everything is electric. If we lose power, we freeze, we starve, and we lie around in the dark. Fortunately, even our big storms do not knock the power out.

Hilary said...

There's something magical about a power outage. I don't relish freezing or losing electricity in the middle of cooking a meal but once you settle in and accept the inconvenience you begin to notice things.. like bright stars and almost-full moons. I always feel a fleeting but sincere disappoint when the power is restored. That's as long as it wasn't out for too long. I hope your neighbour's problem is resolved .

Valerie said...

I felt for you reading this. I had a Sunday power cut, right in the middle of cooking dinner. Well, I would get an electric cooker. All that resetting of clocks and microwaves is a real chore. It takes me ages to get right again.

A Brit in Tennessee said...

At least you had a nice cuppa and candle light.
We tend to have squirrels running up and down the light poles...often.
The electricity goes out at least once a month with the beggars.
Makes you wonder how people endured life, without it.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Just stopped by to see how you are...hope you haven't had any more power outages!!! And that your Christmas preparations are peaceful! Love, Janine XO

Rob-bear said...

Dorry to hear of your "dis-empowering" experience.

Glad it didn't happen in -40° weather. That would been really "interesting." We have a contingency plan for such an eventuality -- including draining the water pipes. hauling out an auxiliary heater, and living in the basement (fairly confined space, like a cozy flat).

Andyhow, you lived to tell the tale, and told it well.

Gill - That British Woman said...

I think it is funny that the people in Cheshire are supplied with hydro from Scotland......

Gill in Canada

CG said...

Oh dear! We haven't had a power cut for quite some time but when we do I always realise how much we rely on electricity.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Don't we take it all for granted. In lincolnshire we had toilet problemm for weeks plus days without water. Not funny with children under five. But we survived, just.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Just stopping in to see how you are, my friend!! Sending love, Janine XO

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

It is at times like that we realise how much we take for granted. A few years ago we had a series of power cuts due to a fault in the system that we were linked to, culminating in an all day cut which gave the engineers time to put the whole thing right. We were given a compensation payment. Do hope this was a "one off" for you CW and you don't have the bother of more, especially through the wiwnter months. A x

Maggie May said...

I thought you were going to say it was a hoax.

I can also remember the winter of 1976 when the power was off more than it was on. My children were very young.

Glad that the computers surged back to power again.
At least it didn't happen on Christmas Day.Lets hope that is the end of the matter.

Nuts in May

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