Pass the torch…

advent-551804_1280I remember power cuts, way, way back, it must have been in the 1970s. Sitting in our flat in Glasgow, candles lit, me and my family illuminated centre stage and the rest of the room in black darkness – it was memorable stuff. Since then, happily, my experience of an electricity-free zone has been limited to the odd scheduled turn-off, usually for some kind of maintenance work. Until last Thursday…

It was just after two o’clock and I was at the computer, working on my new suspense novel, when I became aware that the screen on the extension phone on my desk was behaving oddly. For a while I ignored it, then went to look at the main phone in the living room. The line was dead. Oh, I thought, the phone’s off, and back I went to my work in progress. usb-1884_640At one point I needed to check something on the internet, but… no internet. And hey – my laptop was working on battery-power. I clicked a light switch and realised – no electricity.

This was a new situation for me in our temporary flat. Out I went into the corridor – no electricity. Down to the cellar – the same. No one else was home, but a quick (mobile) phone call to Herr D (the guy we phone when things go wrong in our block) and I learned that there had been an incident in the nearby industrial district and a large chunk of the surroundings had no electricity. Not only that, they couldn’t find the fault – we were in for a longer power cut.

cafe-au-lait-355610_1280Life as we know it really does grind to a halt with no power. No iron, no hair-drier, no coffee before I went to work later that afternoon. Those were the immediate disadvantages for me. I had to put on my make-up sitting at the window as the electric blinds in the bathroom were down. Then there was the small matter of the fridge and freezer – how long would they stay cold enough? And my mobile was now only 17% charged…

But I was one of the lucky ones. I was teaching two English classes and then talking to a group who’ve read my books, and when I arrived back home at 22.00 the power was on again. I learned the next day that the problem wasn’t identified until 20.00, and then they had to fix it.

flashlight-325462_1280I put away the emergency candle I’d left by the flat door (I have NO idea where all the torches are in our temporary flat but I only found one tiny ineffective one when I looked so I feel the good ones may now be residing in student flats Somewhere in Switzerland) and walked round switching things on and off just for the novelty. Electricity! The TV worked! And so did the kettle! It was marvellous…

And we take it for granted. We don’t realise how much we depend on something until we no longer have it. Luckily, our power cut ‘only’ affected a few factories and homes and the local Aldi; no lives were lost and no accidents occurred because we had no power.

Next morning, I lay in bed listening to the street outside. Traffic was moving normally, good, no new snow. I reached out and switched on the lamp – and yes, we HAD electricity! The relief was enormous.

And top of the shopping list now is a new torch… just in case. For the next time.

 

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9 Responses to Pass the torch…

  1. When I read the title of the post, I was just thinking. OMG and it is cold in Switzerland right now. Then I realized that unlike California, the heating is either oil or some alternative, non-electric system. I haven’t been there with a power outage in a long time, so I wouldn’t know. Was the heating still working at your place?

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    • lindahuber says:

      To be honest, Christa, I don’t know! We have underfloor heating from one of those earth-sonde things, but I don’t know to what extent it’s powered by electricity. And I spent four and a half hours of the six hour power cut at work in a nice warm castle! Btw I’m really enjoying An Uncommon Family just now – am at chapter 14 🙂

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  2. One word…cyalumes. (Not the IR kind, either!)

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  3. jenanita01 says:

    It is remarkable just how much we take for granted these days, and we are unaware, until something takes it away…

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    • lindahuber says:

      I know… it’s probably very good for us to do without something for a while! I know I appreciated electricity a whole lot more after that power cut. (PS The reblog button is back!)

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  4. Georgia Rose says:

    We occasionally get a power cut and it’s astonishing how many times you think ‘while I wait for it to come back on I’ll just do……only to realise…duh…everything I go to do seems to require electricity’. Fortunately it doesn’t happen that often 🙂

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    • lindahuber says:

      That was me exactly when the power went off! I’m just glad it started in daylight hours, imagine what it would be like to be plunged into darkness and not just electricitylessness 🙂

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