The lights flicker and I smile. Oh the irony, watching the news about budget cuts and the lights dim slightly. Then the whole house plunges into darkness. “Don’t panic,” I say to the kids, panicking. Heading to the front door I fling it open and stare out into the darkness. The children have come to the unanimous decision that I’ve lost the plot. “It’s a power cut” I declare, arm sweeping to emphasis my point. Think magician’s assistant. “See all the lights are out, even the street lights.” The children grudgingly agree that maybe I do know something about this, however they are reserving judgement for the moment. I think they are also secretly impressed by my graceful arm sweeping. I know I am.
Back inside the house, I’m rummaging in the dark for a torch. I’m surprised at how many things feel like a torch when you are groping blind and mildly panicking. Torch? No, mini fire extinguisher. Torch? No, washing liquid. Torch? No, the cat. OK I made that last one up, but you get my point.
Then the lights come on. We settle back down after all that excitement, laughing at our reactions to the blackout. The lights go off again. Why didn’t I find the torch when power was restored?
Because you don’t need a torch in the light.
Annoyed now, I’m happy to sit in the dark and wait it out, but kids aren’t. They need to know when the electricity is coming back. One of them is worried that the sun won’t come up tomorrow because of this. I’m trying to explain that the sun isn’t attached to the national grid, but if it was, boy I wouldn’t want to get that electricity bill.
Then the lights come on again.
It’s the worlds slowest morse code and I just hope they are not spelling out llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.
“Hello?” Silence. “Hello?” said at a slightly higher pitch. Click and background office noise floods in as a woman with a strong Indian accent says “Good morning is this *******?” “Yes” I reply nervously thinking fast, which cr*py form have I filled in with my phone number. I’m meticulous about ticking boxes saying ‘Don’t contact me unless the world is ending or I’ll rip your head off and shove it down your neck.’ I know they are just doing their job, so I try and not start screaming, just yet. It might not be a sales call…
The woman launches into her spiel asking if we have Sky via cable or satellite. “Wait, sorry, what?” I splutter. She repeats her script. Balls, do I have to confess to this mystery woman that I have no idea. I just turn the darn TV on and off and hope that there is something there. Stall. “Are you selling me something” I ask accusingly. Slightly ruffled she says “No, this is a (something mumbled) survey.”
“Do. You. Have. A. Satellite. Dish?” The woman is breaking it down slowly for me, she’s obviously thinking that I’m an idiot who doesn’t know if there is a large dish on the side of her house. She’ll be laughing about this later with her work colleagues, eyes rolling – “yes she didn’t have a clue! I know! I was really tempted to say, stick your head out the window love and have a look!” Or words to that effect.
“Thank you very much for calling, but I’m really not interested” I blab hanging up fast, ignoring the protests on the other end of the line.
The next day I answer the phone. Long pause of nothing before the background noise of a busy call centre kicks in. “Hello, is that *********?” a man asks. “YES! Why are you phoning me, I told someone from your office yesterday that I’m not interested!”
“This is just a survey for (mumbles some name I don’t catch) to see if you get Sky through a satellite dish or cable” he replies, sounding confused as to why wouldn’t I want to answer his harmless little questions. It’s not like he’s asking what colour my underwear is. Yet.
Oh he’s smooth, I wonder if he gets given the difficult customers or our names go round in rotation. Do they have different levels of trained staff? First level, the people who will answer the questions; second level, the polite but not having any of it (possibly you can talk them round) and thirdly the really abusive people that you quickly remove from your lists after you’ve made a recording of their rant and put it onto YouTube.
I hang up.
I also hang up every time I answer the phone and someone doesn’t answer straight away. How long until they get the message? Answer came there none…
This is the start of one of the stories I’m working on…..
There was a loud crash in the room below my feet and an angry bellow. With my back against the door, clutching the bottle of whisky to my chest, I reviewed my escape options. This had been my brothers room, the only hint of him was in the blue duvet set and old wardrobe we played Narnia in. The only exits were the small window to my left or the skylight above my head. Luckily the window, although narrow, was unlocked. I quickly opened it and straddled the window ledge, my body half in, half out, so I could work out my escape route. To my right, the sloping extension roof was just too far away. “Not a chance” I cursed. The only alternative would be to drop the one storey down, but the kitchen window was directly below. Would he be able to see me dangling? Would he rush outside?