Coping without water or power makes you feel like a modern-day hero!
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It's frustrating to lose power or water, but if you can handle the hardship for a few hours, it makes you feel great, says David Clayton
We lost our water supply a week or so back. In the great scheme of things, not a huge inconvenience and it wasn't for long. Now we're all able to search online for what's going on, there's at least some instant reassurance that a) it's not just you, and b) someone responsible knows and is getting on with sorting it.
Things you take for granted like flushing the toilet and filling the kettle, stop you in your tracks when you realise you can't. All was well because our water supply was back, with a splutter, three hours later and five hours ahead of the online prediction, but it's at times like this you realise how utterly dependent we all are on these vital services connected to our dwellings.
Apparently a "third party" had accidentally damaged a pipeline. I pictured some digger driver hanging his head in shame while a plume of water cascaded over his head.
Is it just me or did we have more regular "outages" a few years back? I'm sure we did, which rather leads me to think the general infrastructure of our utilities is much more robust than ever it was. So, when they happen now, it's either huge and calamitous, from which lessons must be learned, or so infrequent, we simply aren't prepared and have forgotten how to manage the situation. Yes, things are a lot better these days. To illustrate the point, we have an unopened box of candles that moved with us to our present house 26 years ago!
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Do candles go off? No, I didn't think so! We've a torch somewhere, but I can't say I've checked the batteries recently because, provided it is charged up, I'd now illuminate any power cut with my phone, of all things! Such is progress.
Of the many radio phone-ins I've hosted over the years, I recall one where listeners shared what they'd done during a long power cut the previous evening. With TV taken away, there were quite a few people who dug out an old board game, re-discovered their battery radios, read a book by torchlight or guess what, sat and chatted to each other. Pretty much everyone said candlelight was lovely, for a change, and there was the inevitable whimsical speculation that nine months on, the birth rate might spike up a bit.
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I once had to get dressed by candlelight in a power cut to go off to work at Gorleston's Ocean Room where I was on stage all evening in a posh dinner-suit compering and DJing at a dinner dance. I can't now recall the specific circumstances, but this was the early 1980s and we were enduring power cuts which were zonal and planned, so I was leaving my home without any electricity to go to Gorleston where they hadn't had it for the afternoon but fortunately now had power for the evening. It was part-way through the proceedings, while I was standing on stage, that I looked down and was shocked to see I was wearing one black shoe and one brown shoe. Clearly candlelight hadn't illuminated my wardrobe enough at home to distinguish shoe colour. I was certain everyone must be staring at me, so I proceeded to stand, self-consciously, with one foot behind the other. In the end, only one person spotted my faux pas and he was in the band, which allowed me the hilarious punchline that I had an identical pair back at home!
Its only when it fails, you realise how vital electricity, gas and water are to our very existence. I'm not for one moment talking up these outages, but every now and again it's a sobering wake-up call to cope again with a failure of one or other.
Mind you, take away Wi-fi and we really are doomed!