It happened on a quiet, peaceful afternoon when, of course, I happened to be alone in the house. I switched on a light and suddenly the electricity in the whole house had gone, vanished, disappeared. It wasn’t yet quite dark outside, but dusk was falling, so I knew I had to act quickly.
I know the routine, although I don’t recollect anything quite as bad as this happening in our house (in contrast with general electricity cuts in our road or neighbourhood as a result of a thunderstorm or men at work outside). So I went outside the front door to the fuse box to find the recalcitrant switch and flick it up. All the switches were up (there are at least forty), and the mains switch refused to stay up. OK, there’s always another solution. So I rang my husband, who was somewhere in Jerusalem and planning to play a three-hour game of tennis later in the evening, and with no intention of coming home to our remote suburb until much, much later.
Guided by Yigal over the phone, I dutifully flicked individual switches, then put all the switches down, then one by one put them up again. The mains switch still refused to cooperate. It was almost completely dark by then. I was prepared to phone an electrician, anything, anyone, just so that Yigal would not have to miss his tennis game. But my devoted husband, ever the responsible householder, decided to ‘pop back home’ to resolve the problem before going on to the tennis court.
It takes a good half an hour to get to our house from town. What was I to do in the meantime? No computer. No radio. No TV. Not even a cup of coffee. I felt as if I was being sent back to the Stone Age. Gradually I emerged from my state of catatonic panic. I remembered that I had a little battery-powered radio that goes with me into the garden when I do gardening. The quality of the sound is less than ideal, but at least it provides some contact with the outside world, and especially with the classical music programme that is my constant companion.
But how was I to amuse myself? I tried to read my book, a fascinating account of life at Bletchley Park, the top-secret code-deciphering centre that operated in England during the Second World War, but the light was too poor. Then I remembered my iPad. What a miraculous invention! It is always there, always back-lit, and I have managed to download several books into its Kindle app. Hooray! I have something to read!
And coffee? How am I to find comfort in my hour of need without electricity? I tried plugging the electric kettle in upstairs, in a room where one light was functioning. The minute the kettle began to heat up the remaining light fused! So no coffee. It took a while but it eventually occurred to me that it might be possible to ignite our gas hob with a match. Would it work without the electricity which I usually use to get it going? Lo and behold, after fumbling in the dark to find our one box of matches, kept for emergencies and the Sabbath candles, the gas came on and did in fact manage to heat a small pan of water. Thus, even in my twentieth-century, stone-age cave I was able to enjoy coffee, music and reading matter. Bliss.
A few hours later, after Yigal and an obliging electrician had worked for a long time unplugging every single electrical item in the house and eventually finding the culprit (a burnt-out ‘choke,’ whatever that might be), and restoring light to our house, we rejoined civilisation.
But it was too late for Yigal’s game of tennis, and I remain forever grateful to him for his sacrifice in the cause of my mental health and stability. Meanwhile, I’m going to download a few more books to my iPad, because you never know…