Friday, 22 August 2008

Let there be light!

Another good day at Rock HQ, lots of jobs done and a couple of mysteries solved.

The weather has behaved and allowed us to venture outside dressed in clothing other than not quite waterproofs so we have pottered around catching up on little jobs. Currently I am in the doghouse for leaving an axe hanging on the workshop door which fell off and nearly amputated Tracey's arm, but apart from that the day has passed without mishap.

William is fit, well and deposited vast quantities of pooh on the stable floor in an effort to demonstrate he wasn't bunged up after last nights colic attack so was allowed out to graze in the sunshine.

One mystery we solved was the strange case of the disappearing smoked salmon. We went to bed and in the fridge was the remains of our dinner, a slice of smoked salmon saved for some scrambled egg for breakfast. Tracey got up early and went to collect our latest purchase of animal feed, I found the salmon gone thinking she had had it. She returned later and decided on a sandwich for lunch, found the fish gone assumed I had it. What actually happened was Ben our son returned home at 1 am, dropped off a ton of his army gear, couldn't resist looking in the fridge, after all the food in there isn't actually owned or wanted by anyone in the house and it was he who ate the salmon. And Cheese. Oh and some cold sausages, milk, bread and anything else that wasn't nailed to the shelf.

The second mystery was solved by the electrician Steve. He still claims his name is Paul, but as all professionals and tradespeople in the valley are called Steve he is only trying to buck the trend. So Steve tipped up in his van which is a special edition white van with chest of drawers and portable chemical toilet, both securely fitted in the back by the ubiquitous bungee strap. Steve's task, apart from sorting out quite how we get electric into the stables and fit it out with lights and switches, was to find out why the lights in the dining room, downstairs wetroom, utility room, workshop and pantry either fail to come on when asked or go out after a few minutes.

This is an old house, and it has had things done to it many times, the electrical system has been designed so that you are never more than an arms length from a light switch. In fact some lights have three switches, allowing a wonderful combination of on off pleasure and for the real thrill seekers there are spare switches on some walls fitted for no other purpose than to provide the home owner with the joy of switching. If there was on Olympic event for light switching this house would be the training area.

The lights in the shower went out about a year ago, we tried to shower by candle light but this was far from successful. Dinners have for while been candlelit affairs as the ceiling lights went out and refused, despite all efforts to illuminate. The pantry lights would stay on just long enough for you locate what you were looking for before plunging you into an abyss of darkness as you clutched your can of baked beans whilst praying that you found the exit before the pantry monster grabbed you.

We needed expert help.

We needed Steve, even if he was called Paul.

I watched with interest as he dismantled vital sections of the house, transformers and wires were laid bare as I fought off electricians tourettes syndrome. This is the overwhelming desire to shout bang everytime I saw him touch a wire. Seeing I was struggling with this Steve told me that shouting bang wasn't as scary as builders and their nail guns who have the habit of firing them everytime he tests a circuit in a new build house. That was scary enough to cause accidents. That explained the toilet in the back of the van.

By mid morning we had two bedrooms dismantled and most of the lights working except for the shower room and the dining room. We even phoned the nice man who sold us this wonderful house to see if he could shed any light on why we were suffering eternal darkness. Steve was shocked by some of the wiring, literally, only for the third time in his life as an electrician he got a jolt from the mains after turning off a circuit. What he didn't know is our house is so good some switches are wired into two circuits. He swore to be more careful, I swore not to stand to close to him in case he exploded.

Finally after much head scratching, endless trips up and down stairs the circuit into the shower room still refused to work. Steve had tested it, it was live, it all should work, the bulbs were good, it made no sense.

Pondering what to do we were stood in Beth's room, our faces glum, he about to admit defeat, me contemplating another year of dark showers and wondering if there was any money to be made from a patent for an umbrella for candles when he said "Whats this switch do?"

Low on the wall below Beths bedroom window was a switch.

He turned it on.

We have lights.
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