Monday, October 23, 2006


Yet another sign of my undomesticity today. A while back one of the two sets of lights in my kitchen stopped working. I'm no electrician, so I carried on with just one set of lights. I prefer not to touch things I don't understand. Particularly electricity.

Today, the other set went. Or rather, they didn't. As I was leaving the house to go for a pre-work swim, I tried to switch them off and nothing happened. Nothing apart from a popping sound, and the ominous looking sight and smell of smoke coming out of the switch, at least. But the lights were still on, and I couldn't turn them off. Or stop the smoke.

I may not be an electrician, but even I can work out that's not a good sign. It still took me a couple of minutes of standing there, hoping it would stop, before I realised that I couldn't just not use the lights, I had to find a way to stop the burning. And preferably before I left for work. In a flash of inspiration I found the fuse box thingy and turned all the electricity in the house off.

And then remembered that it was 6.30am and utterly dark. And that I hadn't thought to find a torch before switching it off. I also realised that leaving all the electricity in the house switched off wasn't exactly a viable solution long term. I'm only in when it's dark at the moment, and none of my creature comforts like tv, computer, alarm clock would work either. On the other hand it would slash my electricity bills...

So I decided to bite the bullet and wield my screwdriver. First I had to find the screwdriver, of course. You really think I had the foresight to find one first? It was dark, so armed with my trusty mobile phone I tried to light up the patch of darkness ahead of me and went rummaging in a cupboard I tend to leave for my dad to colonise with practical stuff. To my delight I managed to pull out a screwdriver without too much drama, and set to work on the light switch.

It was actually surprisingly easy to unscrew it and get the wires out. I could see the black, distorted bit where it had been burning, but it seemed to have stopped smoking by the time I got to it, which was good. Disaster averted. I turned the electricity back on, and nothing seemed to have died while it was off. I was quite proud of myself for sorting it out without too much of a panic.

Except that now I have a hole in the wall with some wires hanging out of it, and no working lights in the kitchen. I know that the actual screwing part of putting another switch in is within my capability, but what I have absolutely no idea about is which wire goes in which hole. I've moved a freestanding uplighter from the lounge into the kitchen as a temporary stop gap, but really I'd prefer proper lighting.

I'd actually quite like to replace it myself, as the first step on the road to domestic competence. It's the sort of thing that I feel like I should be able to do, and which might trigger off a new round of minor DIY jobs if I can force myself to believe that I won't burn the whole house down in the process. On the other hand, I can't get over the fear that I actually might burn the whole house down in the process...

(The really impressive bit though is that I still managed a 20 minute swim before work...)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my... I would have freaked out if that happened to me. God on you for handling it all so well and for also fitting in a swim! :) Hope you get your lights fixed soon.

10:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and in the meantime, no lights in the kitchen = less munching = easy weight maintenance! haha!

Way to be domestic...


5:47 PM  
Blogger M@rla said...

I think you were smart to think of the fuse box. If I saw smoke, I'm not sure I'd have any rational thoughts.

I'll bet you could ask someone at the hardware store about how to wire it. I'd ask my husband for directions for you, because he's pretty good with that stuff, but I don't know what kind of freakish electricity you British folks might have.

12:05 PM  
Blogger M@rla said...

OK, I'm back. I asked the DH anyway, and he said there are definitely too many variables for him to advise anyone via blog. Although that would be funny, you on a ladder with a screwdriver, hopping down to check the comments on your computer to see what the next step is.

Also I remembered you're in Scotland, not England (I think), so I don't know if I made a terrible faux pas calling you British. If so, sorry!

12:11 PM  
Blogger YP said...

Nope, I'm in England and it's fine anyway. The switch is on the wall at chest level and it's that that's gone rather than the fittings, so at least I don't have to swing from the roof to sort it out!

7:11 PM  
Blogger K said...

Mar!a - The most famous one in Scotland is Dietgirl, but there's also Lainey ( and, er, me.

12:23 AM  

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