*click*... we lost all our electricity. Not just a power surge flicker but the whole house plunged into darkness and silence.
"Told you something was up today,"shouted Kev smugly from the other room (we have separate lounges - it's brilliant!). He'd also rung me at work earlier in the day to ask if I knew why the electricity had gone off for a couple of minutes. I tried to use my ESP, I really did, but my recent flu must have knocked my senses out...
"It'll be back on in a minute,"retorted I from the front room, wondering how the interview with Nigel was going and if Dom had killed Gillian yet.
Five minutes later the power still wasn't back on so we nipped outside to find that a whole block of houses in our area had lost their power too. Tales were swapped of power going off earlier in the day, one neighbour lit a fire in a metal saucepan and took it into the house for some light (don't ask!) and we dished some candles out to people who hadn't got them. It was just like the 1970's again.
Jake mused about what would happen if we never had electricity again, Kev wired up a portable light to his battery powered car charger and we huddled together in the same room for company. Michael missed all the excitement as he'd gone to bed at about 8pm after playing Call Of Duty: Black Ops straight since November 8th, only breaking for food, college and sleep. I may be exaggerating here, but only slightly.
The dog was confused, we found a small torch so that we could grope our way through the house, we switched one of the laptops on for a bit of music but panicked a little bit in case it ran out completely. I tried to set my new phone up but it was impossible to read the minuscule writing in the manual by torchlight.
Jake got bored after about fifteen minutes and went to bed wearing his head torch (he uses it when he goes night fishing with his dad) and I started to realise how much we really do rely on electricity. My children have always slept with a light switched on - the landing light usually. I couldn't make a cup of tea, all our "entertainment" was power-based and we didn't really have much to talk about.
We'd been refraining from ringing any emergency number, presuming that they'd be collapsing under the weight of calls from everyone else. But what if everyone else thought the same? I searched the kitchen drawer (by torchlight) for a recent electric bill but couldn't find one anywhere. Oh the joys of online billing! On their website (accessed through my phone) there was a customer services number (closed at 8pm) and a "if you smell gas ring this number" prompt. Very helpful, not. I had a brainwave. Check the Yellow Pages! I found the number for United Utilities and spoke to Mary. Just as Mary was explaining that there were 101 houses affected by an underground problem and the target was to have everyone back with power again by 2am, all the lights came back on!
Then the lights went off again!
I went to bed at about midnight. About halfway through the night I got up for a glass of water and noticed that all the street lights were ablaze again. The flashing of my digital alarm clock told me that power had been restored at about 12.45am.
I hear all you in remote areas mocking me. I do, really. But we've not had this happen for yonks! Not even during the bad weather at the beginning of this year. My parents always used to have an "emergency box" under the stairs full of candles, torches, blankets and all sorts of stuff just for occasions like this but we had nothing really. That's my mission for this weekend, I suppose.
I'm a little bit disappointed that none of you set up a focus group on Facebook to support my plight *sad face* I did wonder if *insert local celebrity of choice here* would have been round with a food parcel. a sympathetic look and a camera crew in tow but we didn't even make it to this morning's local news! Do they not know who I am?