I'm back. You probably didn't know I was gone, did you? But for several hours this afternoon and evening I was without power, which means I was without internet. Prophetically, I'd just updated my Facebook status: "Kathy is leaving the internet to fend for itself for a while" I wrote, around 3 p.m. A minute later, everything shut down. No lights, no CNN buzzing in the other room, no Radio 4 on the radio upstairs I always forget to turn off, no lights. No computer. No internet.
I knew immediately what had happened. For several days now, the water company has been tearing up my street, attempting to fix sewer lines for the residents upstream. The workers had accidentally cut the electricity lines to my house.
In England, it is very very rare to lose power, unless you live on the coast and you're experiencing gales. Here it just doesn't happen. My neighbor, of the sewer line mess, told us it had happened only four times in thirty years.
Regardless, when I phoned the power company, I got a royal runaround. First, you have to determine which power company services your area—not at all that clear. Then you have to find a number, without aid of the internet. Then you have to wait on hold for a long time, attached to a phone cord since the cordless won't work—and light is fast fading. But if you try to call an 0800 number from your mobile, you're charged.
Then when they finally answered, I got another runaround, had to call another power company—Southern Electric for future reference—and then had to convince the live person on the other end that I actually had a problem. They told me to go to the "customer box" and flip a switch to determine that it wasn't a problem within the house, since they hadn't received any other calls.
Of course I had no idea what a "customer box" was. Turns out it's the fuse box, which is in my garage—but the garage door wouldn't open without electricity, right? Unless I could find a key to the side door, with the help of my weak torch light.
See what I mean? This doesn't happen very often here.
Finally I convinced them it wasn't my fuses, and that the workers digging and jackhammering outside were at risk unless they GOT SOMEONE IMMEDIATELY OUT HERE TO FIX THIS! It helps to have an American voice sometimes. They were probably frightened I'd sue for damages—Americans are known as being frightfully litigious here.
Meanwhile, conscious of the rapidly approaching dark, I lit candles and found torches and batteries. I pondered the possibility of starvation and freezing to death. Once I'd done all I could to stave off either, I found I was in dire possibility of dying of boredom.
I cleaned my house in the dim light (wouldn't want anyone to find dirty countertops when they pick up my body!), and as the light finally gave out, I ate pistachios and cleaned out the bookmarks on my laptop. I phone my sweet little neighbor, to update her on the arrival of Southern Electric, and she told me I was doing a "champion job" surviving in the dark. She lived through the Blitz and knows a champion job when she sees it.
My husband came home, and we opened a bottle of wine, admired each other in the candle light, and pondered litigation.
Then the lights flickered back on, and things were suddenly normal again. I had a gazillion emails—turns out the world had continued on as we took a short break from the modern world of electricity and internet. I was high on lavender scented candles and wine by this point, and all thoughts of litigation had fled.
I can handle anything, I am convinced.