Midnight chainsaw

I neglected to post about this last Monday. The reason for this will become obvious.

For a good few years, we suffered in our home from a temperamental electricity service. Some of this was supply problems, some consumer unit problems (including overloading), but mostly it was down to really bad wiring.

The previous owner of the house (for some 20 years) claimed to be an electrical engineer. If he was, then he deliberately and knowingly took significant liberties with the regulations and good practice.  The house had a mixture of old wiring and very complex semi-modern creative spaghetti features many many junction boxes. Getting rid of all the carpets and having all the wooden floors polished finished the wiring off: the nails were sunk in the wood before it was sanded and much of the wiring was run too shallowly and in the wrong places so the nails shorted it.

Many sparkies ran from our house over the years. Eventually we found one who liked the challenge and set about the place for a few weeks with a team of junior sparkies and oiks.

Once completed, we settled into a home with a reliable supply for the first time in years. We stopped relying of so many power filters and uninterruptible power supplies (big batteries), candles and torches.

So when the power went off around 6pm a week last Sunday, it was a bit of a surprise. A quick call (from a mobile as I could not remember where the non-dect phone was to plug back into the master BT socket) to the supply network emergency number revealed confirmation that it was not just us and that we should have power back by 9.15pm.

That put paid to the evening meal, my working on my laptop in preparation for the week ahead, and any TV. So we went to see a film (just enough battery in my laptop and mobile broadband allowed me to look up times at the local Odeon). Hancock, by the way – very entertaining.

On return at 9.30pm we were disappointed to find that the power was still off. On the phone this time I got through to a real person who told me that the engineers had not provided a revised estimated completion time. The friendly individual suggested that 11.15 would be a reasonable time to expect it to be back on by and suggest I call again if the power was not back on by then.

I decided to pack my suitcase in the morning. We made some sandwiches by candlelight, chatted for awhile, and then all headed to bed. I read a book for a while by torch light (it was a really entertaining book).

By midnight, the power had not returned. We talked for a while about insulating the tropical fish tank but decided that as the weather was reasonably warm. Then we talked about how much the fridge had been opened since the power went off and decided what would have to be thrown away in the morning.

We went off to sleep assuming the power would come back on during the night.

Just as we were drifting off, loud engine noises shattered the peace, then bright lights stabbed through the windows. I leapt from bed, threw the curtains aside, and stared out of the window at whatever was at the foot of our driveway. I then drew the curtains closed again whilst I went and retrieved my dressing gown, before returning for a proper look. (No need to share with all and sundry that I sleep in my birthday suit.)

No great surprise that the vehicles all belonged to the electricity network people. We settled down in the mixed gloom and noise wondering how long they would take. A few minutes later that the lights dimmed and the vehicles drove away up the track next to our house.

We sighed and settled down to sleep again. Then a high-pitched grinding noise hammered its way back into my brain. It took a while to recognise the noise as that of a chain-saw at work.

There was no way we could sleep with that going on in the background. After two hours, I could not resist putting some clothes on and wandering down the track to find our what exactly they were doing.

I found two men up in a cherry-picker attacking very tall and deep flood-lit conifers with a chain saw. Clearly they had a lot of work to do before they would be able to get the cable they were after free, or access the box they were after. I left them to it. I don’t think they noticed me.

There were at it for hours and hours. Good job it was nice weather for them. At least they did not call our a helicopter.

Eventually, around 6am in the morning the power came back on. I went to sleep.

I woke briefly around 8am and sent text/emails saying I would not be at work until late in the day. I needed sleep and it was not safe for me to drive the three-to-four hours from darkest Shropshire the the Heathrow area.

I managed some sleep, a nice soak in the bath and a decent breakfast before heading off. I arrived early afternoon after lunch.

The problem was, on the drive and throughout my work during the rest of the day I could still hear (in my mind) the sound of the damned chainsaw. I feared it would be with me for sleep that night. Blissfully, this was not to be and I slept soundly.

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