The car journey was 'interesting', with things blowing all over the place. I was just very glad I wasn't out on the bike. It was very windy and the traffic was lighter than usual, probably because many people had actually said 'sod it' and stayed in bed. All day, at work, I could hear the wind whistling round the building and, every so often, the blinds in my office would blow inwards. By about 3.30, I'd decided I'd had enough and started packing up.
On the way home, I realised just how windy it had been. Within a few hundred yards of my workplace, a tree had snapped halfway up the trunk and was lying in the road. I went round it and a bit further up the road, at Queen's Park, another tree, very old and very large, had snapped off at ground level and was lying forlornly on the grass. There was debris scuttering all over the place and Central Park in Westhoughton had a couple of trees broken and busted at the edge of the road, and the housing estates were like wheelie-bin graveyards.
As I turned into my street, I started to feel a little sick. The house on the end of the street had a small group of people gathered outside, staring upwards at the roof, which had one corner peeled upwards like a giant sardine tin, and tiles all over the garden. Almost every house I could see had ridge and other tiles missing. My house is set back from the others and, as I approached, I breathed a huge sigh of relief - my roof was intact. In fact all 12 properties at the bottom of the street were undamaged, as far as I could see; the other 18 weren't so lucky. No matter in which direction I looked, there were damaged roofs, not just in our street, but in the surrounding streets too.
Just past 7pm, I was sitting in my chair, chatting on the telephone to HappyBiker, telling him how relieved I was not to have any structural damage to my home when, POP! The electricity went off, and so did the phone, being of the cordless variety. Bugger. I nipped outside, to see all my neighbours doing the same. 'Ho hum' thought I, and lit a couple of candles. I rummaged around in the drawer to find my old telephone, plugged it in and it rang immediately. It was HappyBiker. "Oh, so you've decided to answer this time!", says he. So I explained. Then I rang mum, more to whinge than anything else. She said 'Oh don't worry, dear, it'll come back on in a few minutes'. Ha! Yeah, right.
I had a look out of the window again and saw that a few of my neighbours seemed to have no lighting, so I grabbed a handful of candles and my lighter and knocked on a couple of doors to ask if they were OK. One neighbour, a doctor, said "It's very kind of you, I do have some candles but I'm enjoying just relaxing in the dark." Fairy nuff, sounds good to me.
Now, Internet-less, I wandered around the house like a lost child before deciding to while away the time playing my fiddle, which was quite fun, really. Eventually, I got bored and I wanted a brew, so I had a rummage in my rally kit to see if I could find my little gas cooker. Nope, it wasn't there. See, when I say 'my little gas cooker', what I really mean is 'Smurf's little gas cooker', which I suspect is sitting in Smurf's house as I type. Doh! Note to self - buy a little gas cooker! Anyway, I gave up and had a can of Pepsi instead.
Round about 10pm, I thought 'stuff it' and went to bed. Half an hour later, I was rudely awoken by a neighbour's burglar alarm, and then another, and another. Yep, we had power :o) So I went round the house checking that things were switched off and then got back in bed.
So, what have I learned from this powercut?
- Lightswitches don't work, no matter how many times you try them.
- My fiddle playing improves in the dark; my piano playing goes to shit.
- It's very peaceful, when there's no electricity on. It was lovely to experience almost-total quiet.
- A vanilla candle may smell lovely when it's lit, but when you snuff it out, the smell of the smoke ain't so good.
- The battery indicator on the Laptop might say '2 hours remaining' but what it really means is '25 minutes remaining'
- Keeping the house tidy is a definite advantage - I didn't fall over anything!
- I need to buy some matches - OK, I had a cigarette lighter in the drawer, but it took me a while to find it. I'll put some matches in the candle box (ok, cupboard) then I'll know where to find them.
- Backup batteries on alarm clocks are great - except when they reset the clock to run 10 minutes fast...