Electrical Disturbances

A couple of years ago, at the end of a fairly protracted renovation project on our house, we had a house fire. Only a little fire, but with vast amounts of smoke from all the electrical wiring involved, which permeated the entire house with thick black oily smoke. Only the week before I had been taken off to hospital in an ambulance with appendicitis so I and Henry the cat were safely recuperating at my mother’s house on the other side  the village at the time of the fire. In my rather fragile state, the state of our house and possessions was enough to cope with, I really didn’t need to hear too much detail about the actual event. Unfortunately, my mother’s gardener at the time was a retained fireman, a garrulous man who delighted in the opportunity to lean on his spade and hold forth. Thus cornered one day he regaled me with the exciting tale of how he had broken down our front door with an axe, and with non existant visibility had gone in wearing breathing apparatus, and crawled around on the bedroom floor looking for my body! These images haunted me for months, and I struggled with settling back into our home for quite some time because of them.


All this is to set the scene so that you can imagine how I felt at quarter to five this morning, with Tim in the middle of the North Sea, waking up from a deep sleep and hearing the crackling of electric wiring shorting. Having established it was coming from the main electrical feed into the house, what to do? I did NOT want a posse of firefighters with axes, even if they were potential calender material. I found the emergency electricity number, and pressed 1 for ‘Dangerous Situations’ and talked to Lee. His answer to ‘Is it likely to cause a fire was “Yes, and no”‘ Hmm, reassuring. His solution was to turn off everything at the mains, and wait for a man to call. We waited, me, Henry and Higgins, in the candlelight. I don’t know what they thought, Higgins had a dog chew so probably not a lot. I thought about all those disaster movies where someone looks at a cupboard and says ‘I wonder what’s making that funny noi…KERBOOOOM!’

Have you ever tried casting on a sock by candlelight? It’s pretty unsuccessful, but it stops you thinking about disaster movies. Eventually dawn broke and I could blow out the candles. The emergency man turned up four hours later, he would have been useful if I had gone KERBOOOM! He replaced an enormous fuse, and apologised for my trouble. I wish I could get my fuse replaced, I have completely fizzled out…

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7 Responses

  1. Why do these things always happen in the middle of the night ? I must say I find your calmly sitting casting on a sock very impressive . Stalwart is the word that springs to mind !

  2. Poor you. .. what a nightmare. I’m neurotic about electric fires! Our neighbours over the road had a fire caused by electrics in their boiler going wrong… I spotted smoke and called the fire brigade. Luckily no-one was hurt but it terrifies me.

  3. That caused shivers down my spine – our friend and neighbour’s picture postcard thatched cottage burned to the ground last Christmas – started by an electrical fault! It think the village has been in shock ever since!!

    Higgins looks as if he knows a safe place!
    Celia (H)

  4. The eighteenth Century is never as far away as we think.

    This story reminds me why you don’t like black. I’m glad you had Henry Higgins there to help.

  5. Gosh, how terrifying for you Penny, and you all on your own. When I lived on my own, I had an event with the fuse box, which was spitting electricity. The whole fire brigade came along, but there wasn’t much they could do, and luckily a kind electrician sorted the problem. It is terrifying to be in that situation on your own though, isn’t it?Higgins looks like the whole event passed him by……………. I just want to pick him up and give him a cuddle. Hope you’re feeling o.k? Love Vanessa xxx

  6. These things DO always happen at night and when one is alone! Weird. Just a thought, perhaps balls of wool and little tea lights are not such happy bedfellows 🙂 Unless you like to smoke your socks!
    Glad it’s all sorted out for you now, though. Get some rest and mend your nerve endings!

    • I take your point, but the two only met briefly for a photo call! The picture does rather give the candle an incendiary glow, in reality it was feeble little thing.

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