Thursday, January 14, 2016


Before I launch into today's rant - and it will be a rant, believe me - I have to say how saddened I was today to hear of Alan Rickman's death.  I've enjoyed many of his performances, both in Hollywood blockbusters and smaller independent films.  It's sad to think that there won't be any more.  Mind you, I'm not sure what his passing means for my mother's 'rule of three' when it comes to celebrity deaths - after Lemmy, Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart and Bowie, he makes four.  Unless we only count them from the beginning of 2016, as Lemmy went at the end of 2015.  Then again, I've just seen that Brian Bedford has died, (look him up kids, he was in Grand Prix with James Garner, amongst other things), which would make two if we count Alan Rickman as the start of a new trio - which means that we should be bracing ourselves for a third celebrity demise soon.

But enough of these fripperies, let's get on with the main business of this post - me venting my frustration over having my entire evening yesterday ruined by another lengthy power outage.  I'd barely got home when the power went, leaving me without light, heat, hot water or the ability to make a hot meal or drink.  It also robbed me of the ability to get online, meaning that the story I'd planned to post on The Sleaze today has had to be postponed, along with a lot of other stuff I was meant to be doing.  So instead of spending an evening in the warmth of my living room, installed on my sofa, dividing my time between watching TV and working on my online projects, I had to endure several hours of freezing misery - the power wasn't restored until past four in the morning when, like my neighbours, I indulged in a bout of frenzied activity to get washing done, take a hot bath, get hot food, try to heat the house, before trying to get a couple more hours sleep.  

This outage was the culmination of the latest series of intermittent breaks in the power supply we've been suffering here for the past couple of weeks and was supposedly the result of the electricity company's attempts to 'solve' the problem once and for all.  I say 'supposedly' as their story keeps changing, with the engineers who worked through the night to repair the cables now portrayed as heroic, despite the fact that it was their botched repair attempt during the day which spectacularly failed, resulting in a near nine hour outage.  Except that now the outages during the day (caused in this instance by their activities at the sub station) was what they were trying to resolve with their overnight work.  No mention has been made in their most recent communications that we've been suffering outages for the past fortnight, nor the fact that these problems have been going on for years.  Once again, the electricity company is claiming that they've fixed the problem permanently, just as they had before yesterday evening's spectacular outage.  And, indeed, as they have every other time we've suffered these extended periods of outages over the years, (I've lived here for over twenty years and we've suffered power supply problems for all of that time).  The reality is that, each time, instead of identifying and rectifying the underlying cause, they've simply applied some temporary, cheap, fix.  Some of these have lasted only a few hours, others for weeks or months, some for a couple of years.  But they all failed eventually, leaving us without power for hours at a time.

I wouldn't mind, but for the past twenty years the source of the problem has been obvious - the sub station is surrounded by trees, over time their roots have inevitably interfered with the underground cables.  It is surely no coincidence that the outages are usually at a peak during periods of high winds - the trees sway and their roots move around, disturbing and possibly damaging the cables.  Yet, it seems, it was only this week that the engineers decided to dig up a section of cable right beside the sub station, claiming this was the source of the problems - something we locals have been telling them for years.  The location of the faulty section of cable was obvious for a second reason - the outages affect everything on the damaged circuit, not just this terrace of houses, but also the streetlights on the main road next to the sub station and a pelican crossing right beside it.  Clearly, logic dictates that any break or damage in the cable must lie between the crossing (the first affected installation on the circuit) and the sub station - an area of only a few feet.  Quite why so much time has been wasted searching elsewhere for the problem is beyond me.   But then again, it shouldn't surprise me.  This an electricity supplier that refuses to acknowledge that there even have been previous outages and which happily has its phone advisors contradict each other with regard to the current outages.  Do I think that the problem has been solved?  Not really.  I suspect that this is another temporary fix.  The reality is that it will only be permanently solved either if the trees are removed or the cables rerouted.  But those solutions would cost money which would eat into their profits.  That's privatisation for you.



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