Thursday, November 22, 2007

Drenched in the dark

Last night, I was about to get stuck into my next 500 words when there was a sort of clunk and the whole house went dark. My heroic husband was in bed watching TV, so he sent me off to investigate and get The Bill back asap. But it was not a runner. Found the matches, found the candles and went down to the fuse-box. As I was standing there, having no luck, I heard an ominous dripping. A dripping I had never heard before... I went to the guest room, and found a big old puddle and a stinky, sodden rug and saw light dripping from the light fitting, which is under the kitchen.

Sigh. I called the Hero upstairs and he moved the rug (a truly disgusting task) and we went back upstairs. I went to bed and read by candlelight, just like the ladies of Cranford which started last week on BBC1 with one of those heritage casts where every old luvvie and some fresh-faced young luvvies have a slot unless they were too busy with the latest Harry Potter or Poliakoff saga - except for the ubiquitous Michael Gambon who has managed to crop up in all three.

Once I blew out the candles, I kept waking up with a start, imagining some worse disaster - the ceiling disintegrating, the basement flooding (especially because I was too tired and cold to find out where our bucket has got to...), working out how to live without heating, lighting or hot water past the weekend because the plumber wouldn't come and sort this out, discovering that the whole kitchen floor would have to be dug up (that one could still happen, I suppose, but I'm too tired to care much about it anymore). I think this happened four or five times until the final time, it turns out it's Hero-guy going to the loo, after which I can't go back to sleep at all and lie there plotting to make sure I have the first shower, because if he shaves and showers, there will be no hot water left at all. There's some myth about women and bathing and how we hog the bathroom, but the truth is that men take three times as long and use four times as much water.

I did get the first shower, and intrepidly found my torch and went down to check out the devastation which had all dried up whooppeeee! So I flick the fuse switch and the house lights up, the dark is dispelled and electronic gizmos come to life, including the dishwasher and so I get going with the little bit of washing up left from the previous night... It will come as no surprise to any technically minded reader that the lights went out again. Sigh. Which suggests to me that the leak is somewhere into/out of the kitchen sink zone. It's so good to narrow these things down.

It was charming and romantic to have a candle-lit breakfast. Just as I left, I tried the lights again, on they came and I left in the happy illusion that they would be functioning when I got home. Hahahahaha. It finally occurred to me that if I took the light-bulbs out of the leaky light-fitting, we might get a continuous electrical supply...They were halogen bulbs, and by the time my mighty mind had figured this one out, they were full of water - never seen that before. It's frightening to think that I am the most technically minded person in our house, the one who does plugs and erm.... well that's about it. The Hero is a whizz when it comes to allan keys and building Billy bookcases (well he should be by now, we've got about 20 of the suckers) but anything electrical/plumbing/machine-connected - that's my territory. I have managed to take a Dyson to bits and get it working again, and I have figured out how to programme the thermostat and keep the central heating pump at the right pressure...And I used to be able to handle spark plugs and distributor caps for the old Mini (the proper Mini). I protest too much. We are a house of incompetents.

Nonetheless, we've gone 2.5 hours without a power cut - maybe I hit on the solution after all, at least until the plumber puts in an appearance.

I don't feel too glum about this - for some reason, virtually every one I spoke to this morning had a story of woe about some household trauma, so the puddle seemed to shrink as I encountered companions in adversity. Then while I was doing my Victorian miss impression in bed last night, I found the book I'd idly picked up to round out a 2 for 3 offer over the summer was funny and twisted (Book of Air & Shadows, let me get back to you in a couple of days about that one) and when I was hanging around the Cora buying two plastic basins to substitute as the kitchen sink, I found another big fat thick book with promise, Special Topics in Calamity Physics. I know, a title too cutesy for a totally good vibe, but I had time to chew up a couple of chapters in the checkout line, and the heroine had me hooked. And finally, I found the gold ring I was given on the birth of Number 2 son, which I thought had disappeared for good. That made up for a lot of dripping and fiddling in the dark with fuses.

All is not entirely right with the world - not with the big bad world outside the house, but even though my lovely home is leaky and electrically vulnerable, it still feels righter than it's been for a bit - decent stories make a difference.

(PS any complaints about the alliterative nature of this post should be directed at Mr Robert Browning - I spent some of this morning in the company of the Duke of Ferrarra and he sneaks in quite a bit of alliteration here and there. It is catching. Look it up on some medical site, alliterationitis, an uncontrollable tendency to alliterate at all opportunities, and when those do not present themselves, to veer into assonance.)

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