Thursday, 13 January 2011

A day of contrasts

Yesterday was a day of contrasts. Having thought I'd seen the last of the cabin's underbelly during the the burst pipes saga a fortnight ago, I found myself crawling around down there looking for suspect cables which might be causing the electrics to short, while Brendan O'Hare, of Eden Electrics, took off the socket plates above me one by one in order to take readings. Eventually (somewhat horrifically as it was lying in a pool of muddy water) I found this cable, which I think speaks for itself:

I had visions of Lynn or I - or Eddie - walking along the timber walkway below the veranda in the pouring rain, and doing one of those cartoon freezes in mid-stride, lit up like a neon sign and gently smoking from the ears..

I shuggled one end and Brendan felt for the other, and we used the old cable to feed in some new. Brendan then found and isolated another problem area where the cabling ran under the back of the house, an area I couldn't reach from underneath, and he came up with a workaround which I didn't fully understand, but which caused his meter, the most sophisticated one I've ever seen and apparently worth a few bob, to register a perfect zero, or a satisfactory 10,000 - whatever, it was the reading Brendan was looking for so in due course I fired up the generator, he threw the switch on the fuse box, and the lights came on for the first time in two days. Excellent.

If you're looking for a can-do and very pleasant electrician, I thoroughly recommend Brendan O'Hare: he can be reached on:

M: 07803 018535
T: 02897 565183

A quick bath and off to Belfast to talk to the Belfast Natural History and Philosophical Society. Of course, it wasn't one bit as I envisaged it in yesterday's post - on the contrary they were the most charming, informal and twenty-first century group of people you can imagine.

In the second horrific discovery of the day, I found that I was late: I had 6.30 pm for coffee in my diary, followed by a 45-minute talk from 7 o'clock, but when I arrived at 6.30 I detected just a hint of relief in face of the president, Angelique Day, and everyone (around sixty-five or seventy by my count) was already seated and waiting. I was mortified and made a quick apology; then, while I made an effort to stay calm, footered with leads and settings on the projector and tried not to forget, in my private panic, what I was there to talk about, Angelique did a masterful job of contriving the longest introduction in history. I've never been so comprehensively introduced. By the time she said, 'so please give a warm welcome to..' there was at least a workable image on the screen and I was moving, sans notes or the books from which I intended to read a passage or two, from the projector to the side table which seemed like the most appropriate place to stand.

As things turned out, if I rambled on a bit without the ten-point bullet list I had written for myself on a 6x4 card, and opted for just one short reading from the book which happened to be on top, no-one seemed to notice and I found myself talking to one of the most responsive and engaged audiences I can remember. There was a good deal of laughter and the Q&A afterwards was fun. Several people said they appreciated how refreshingly 'relaxed' it had been - little knowing how finely-drawn, at times, the line between 'relaxed' and 'shambolic' can be..

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