I received a letter the other day, a letter from the power. No, not THE POWER - the power… you know, the electricity people. It made me think.
What a silly phrase ‘Electricity Outage’is. Yes, that’s what it said on both the letters that were posted through my door, one in Welsh and another in English. For clarity I read the English, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to understand it; my Welsh being only a ‘good day’ , a ‘thanks’, a ‘beer’, and various oaths and swearwords - Ti’n llawn cachu.
‘Outage!’ I ask you, what they really meant was there wouldn’t be any electricity, a planned power cut, not an ‘Outage’. I wonder if when the electricity is on that they call it an ‘Inage’… I doubt it. Pen pidyns.
Anyway they went on to say ‘Hysbysiad I dorri cyflenwad trydan.’ No, it isn’t swearing (although it might as well be) it simply means ‘Planned interruption of supply’ in Welsh. So it came as no surprise when they turned off our electricity that morning. They’d planned it you see and taken the trouble to inform me in two languages - one of which I didn’t speak. They said that it would be off for almost five hours, but as it turned out it was only for three; not long, only a few hours, but as the voice on the radio suddenly cut mid sentence I felt an immense sense of abandonment (well, a bit – I do tend to exaggerate and yes, I am a bit of a haliwr).
‘Important and vital remedial and construction work. There is no need to be concerned, it is a routine operation.’ So that’s what they called it and I was not ‘at risk’ at all. Reading between the lines though I could tell that I was in imminent danger; for all I knew they were upping my voltage and the next time I switched on a light it would be me that would glow and buzz and not the light bulb.
‘There will be no need for our engineers to enter your house, but they may need to close the road for a while to attend to the overhead cables.’ Ti’n llawn cachu, I thought. Yes, close the road so that they can remove the bodies in unmarked vehicles; and it won’t be engineers who enter the house; it’ll be a clean-up squad in white paper suits.
There I go again… exaggerating (I can be such a uffar gwirion). Even so, our electricity comes through big fat wires that hang from tall wooden telegraph poles, no underground supply here, the real thing, real electricity that can fry you in seconds; you only have to read the warnings on the relay stations that are dotted all over the place. That isn’t lightning that’s hitting that stick man you know… pppffftttt and pisho bant!
As I’ve already said: it was quiet without the radio – too quiet. I’ve been listening to the radio all my life; BBC radio 4 to be exact and although I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I’ve gained more knowledge from Radio 4 than ever I did from my formal education. I like nothing better than to listen to a radio play, making the images move in my mind; allowing the news to inform me; the programmes on geology and history educate me; the comedy - I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, Just a Minute - amuse me.
Mabe I’m ti’n llawn cahu, but I guess I’m not the only one that feels they’d be better suited to another time. Oh, I get by in this modern world of mobile devices, computers, and social networking, but give me the radio and a couple of movies down the picture house each week and I think I’d be a very happy bunny. Ah, for a sleeveless pullover and a hat to pop on before I go out - and no need for telly not even BBC1.
For a few hours though I had no electricity, no radio. It felt very quiet (repetition); and er (hesitation) as I boiled water in a saucepan to make a cup of tea, an even bigger pan so that I could wash up – using a match to light the gas ring and not the electronic ignition. No toast, the toaster wouldn’t work; despite my dropping the bread in and popping it down; you see, just like Gary Numan’s friend our grill’s electric (deviation).
And then the radio came back on and I didn’t have to think anymore. Thank heavens for electricity, it makes things so much easier. I’ll paid a mallu cachau now.