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No electricity, no water

I knew were not going to have any electricity today - it was a day of 'scheduled maintenance' - so I decided to fast. But then just a short time into the long cold day ahead we found we had no water either - burst water main. No electricity between 8.30 and 4.00 and no water until 2.00.

Actually cooking was never going to be a problem. We would have had electricity by dinner time, and water too, but a whole day more or less with no electricity. What could we do?

Isn't it appalling that we cannot conceive of activities without electricity? No computer, no internet, no heating. The were the important things for us. Ok - so I shall sit with my iPad and learn to code - I don't need the internet for that. But, oh dear, I had forgotten to charge it, and it quickly ran out of battery. Well almost immediately.

Ok, so I'll go and weed in the garden. But no - I shall get filthy dirty - well my hands will anyway - and I won't have any water with which to wash my hands. Which I admit is a bit precious and probably more symptomatic of laziness than anything. I could go for a walk of course, but this morning it was pretty miserable. So I just decided to read a book snuggled up under a blanket - for, of course, we have no heating and it's cold. The heating is gas fired, but it runs on an electric thermostat so when the electricity goes off, the heating goes off. At least the hot water (also gas) seems to be able to work without electricity - or maybe it's just that there's enough in the tank to supply water for at least one hot shower. Fortunately I had had my shower before the water too disappeared.

And that's the other thing. I had to get up earlier because the coffee had to be made earlier than usual before the electricity went off. I am not an early riser - morning is not my thing. I suppose that could have been worked around. We could boil water in a saucepan on my gas-fired wok and make a plunger of coffee instead of having espresso from the machine. I would have had to light the wok by hand with a match though. So I just got up earlier than usual.

Now I would probably have been happy enough reading my book all day, although I had planned to also sort out some of my family history bits of paper. Indeed I could have been really, really good and started on cleaning out the house so that we can move house, or at least make life easier for our children when we die. However, my husband had decided that it would be a good opportunity to deliver mail to our son and also a sander he wanted to borrow. Which we did. We wore masks, we didn't get close, and I at least did not go in, and it did take up some time. In other times we would have ambled around a shopping centre but really that is not on at the present crisis moment.

All of which was making my husband a bit grumpy because he didn't want to read a book and didn't really feel like doing strenuous things out in the garden, so tempers were frayed,

So very wealthy western pathetic. I remember believing when I was young that primitive peoples were happy if left alone because they knew no better. 'Ignorance is bliss' was one of my favourite sayings. I mean I was happy in my childhood because I lived in a poorish area where everybody else lived in the same sort of circumstances and so we were not envious of anyone. When I went to high school I had a tiny glimpse of people who were somewhat better off, and by then there was television too. So envy and dissatisfaction creeps in. I suddenly realised that there was no spare money for 'extras' - except when dad came home from one of his merchant navy voyages, and splashed money (not a lot I guess) around. And I vowed to have enough money when I grew, not to be worrying about where the next meal was coming from and being able to buy the occasional luxury.

Then as we grew, back in those lucky days of free university education and jobs for all, we gradually became better off and accumulated more things - more electric gadgets, bigger houses. And now we find it hard to survive without them. Without a computer, both of us are a bit lost. But our parents did, and their parents before them and so on back into history. My mother had no electric mixers or processors, no electric kitchen gadgets at all. Her kitchen was tiny and her stove fairly primitive with one of those grills at eye level - now that was a good thing. And yet she cooked delicious meals for us all. There were no automatic washing machines. In her first house no washing machine at all, and I remember her telling me the first thing I should buy when I got married was an automatic washing machine.

Overall though when pushed, even we spoilt modern well-off oldies, can manage without electricity - for a time anyway. If we're cold we can do something energetic, go to bed, or wrap ourselves in more layers or a duvet. I remember one holiday we had in France with our son and his wife, in the Pyrenees. The weather was very cold but because it was summer there was no heating turned on. So we froze and sat around smothered in duvets - which was a good bonding exercise. On another holiday the electricity failed on the first day (except fortunately in the kitchen), and so we had no hot water, and had to eat by candlelight for a day or so before the electrician would come. It was the weekend. The cold water showers were not fun, but the rest was rather romantic.

Yes being without water is worse than electricity I think. You really need water. Hot water too.

But hurrah - when we got back from our son's, both had come back several hours earlier than expected, so all is well again.

It does make you think about laziness and meaninglessness of most of what you do though. An opportunity to do something really worthwhile lost.


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