Wednesday, 16 January 2013


There was a power cut in the night.  I woke up at some point, and before I noticed what time it was, my bedside clock made a tiny peeping noise and the display went blank.  There were further faint bleeps from the rest of the house, as power was momentarily restored to various appliances, but the clock didn't come back on.  After a while the Systems Administrator volunteered to go downstairs and check whether power to the house was now cut off, or whether our fuse box had tripped, and set off down the corridor clutching a guttering candle.  I lay in bed, reflecting that it was not very warm, and wondering what time it was and whether the Aga would have at least partially reheated itself before the power went off, before remembering that my greenhouse heaters would have gone off when the power did, and that unless electricity was restored fairly soon then all the Geranium maderense were going to die.

The Systems Administrator returned, having swapped the candle for a torch, and said that it was not our fuse box but the general supply, and that the lights on the farm had all gone out.  More electronic squeaks from the telephones downstairs indicated that power had very briefly returned several times, then suddenly there was a squawk from my alarm clock, the time began flashing as 12.00, and there was the blessed noise of the boiler coming on.  End of power cut, all that remained being to reset the clocks on the umpteen appliances that had forgotten what time or day it was.

When I got up there was no broadband.  I assumed this was a legacy of the power cut, and tried restarting my computer, and unplugging the modem and plugging it in again.  That exhausted my repertoire of self-help techniques for loss of internet access without solving the problem, leaving me with my fallback position of waiting until the Systems Administrator got up.  I do not think of myself as an internet junkie.  I'm still not on Facebook, or Twitter, and most of my friends don't e-mail from one week to the next.  Even so, I felt strange not being able to check out what was going on first thing in my digital world.

The SA got up eventually, and investigated and found that we had not merely lost the line, but that the BT service for reporting broadband faults was unavailable.  Major broadband problems are generally better news for us than small, local problems, since BT tackles them immediately.  Loss of service to just one or two rural houses somewhere in the Tendring peninsular comes a long way down their list of Things to Do.  The SA plugged in the 3 Mobile dongle that is kept for holidays and emergencies.

The temperature outside was minus 3 degrees Celsius, according to the weather station.  The sky was very blue and clear, and the frozen snow on the shrubs and grass stems in the garden objectively speaking very pretty, but there isn't a lot to do here when it's that cold.  A friend who lives in a small, neat house in Islington and still does the sort of job that entails spending a long time in meetings with spreadsheets and PowerPoint, or sitting in airport lounges, occasionally asks me with some incredulity if I don't get bored at home.  Or even stuck at home.  True, if I were stuck in her house I would get extremely bored, since I'd have run out of things to do in the garden after a couple of days, and I couldn't look at art galleries all the time.  But here there is normally lots to do.

But not when the garden is lightly coated with snow and the thermometer remains below zero for the entire day.  I looked at the newspapers on the internet, once the temporary connection was up, noticing with disgust that train services from Essex to the capital were delayed.  Again.  I read a book of pasta recipes in search of new ideas for supper, finding the idea of all those carbohydrates vaguely comforting, and wishing the Italians would not keep putting fish and spinach in things.  I went out to defrost the chickens' water for a second time.  I would not say I was bored.  It is very un-Zen to be bored, and I can generally find something to think about, only there wasn't much to do.  I could have done my ironing, but activities that required me to move out of sight of the Aga had lost their appeal.

The Systems Administrator had to go outside after lunch to split some more logs, but came in again as soon as that was done, saying that the cold air really aggravated the hole left by the departed molar.  Apparently an extraction like that, done on a tooth which has only just died and not had time to go loose in the jaw, may hurt a lot for up to a week even in the absence of infection.  You know you have an infection if the pain progresses to become excruciating.

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