Sunday, February 1, 2009

And then came the darkening

It's 6.25pm on Friday night and instead of going out to the Australian Open with My One True Love - he's taken the Amateur Actress instead - I'm (slightly ashamed to admit this but it's true) sitting at my sewing machine, finishing up an Ellyfump for my upcoming February market stall.

Now, this is not as lame and sad as it might sound. It's actually quite good. I've got the house to myself, the air-conditioning is protecting me from the 45 degree weather outside, and I think I probably have ...oooh, at least five long, lovely, quiet hours of happy sewing to myself, before the other two return home.

I've settled into a nice rhythm. Beside me there is a glass of clove cordial with ice gently creaking and cracking and clinking. I've finished making the flappy ears - this is an African ellyfump, so the ears are gigantic - and I'm just starting to sew the two body pieces together.

When all of a sudden the machine stops, the air-conditioning stops, the tv goes off, and the lights go out.

Now I'm sitting in complete darkness.

It's obvious what's happened, of course. On the tv news they were talking about the immense power demands through this heatwave, and clearly, Northcote has guzzled more than its fair share of electricity. Greedy, greedy Northcote.

I can't sew, clearly. And I can't open the blinds or the back door to let some natural light in, because then of course the lovely cool air will escape and the sun will blast in and I'll fry to a crisp in the heat. So what to do?

I push back my chair, take up the glass and drink down my long cool river of cordial. I go to the fridge. I extract the Duvel beer I've been saving for a special occasion, and I pour it into the cordial glass. It froths satisfyingly.

I scoop up a book I've been meaning to read but somehow never got around to, and I wander up the hallway and out through the front door. It's ever so slightly cooler here, because the front of the house is protected from the sun.

People are milling about, suddenly freed from their semi-comatose states in front of the tv. They're calling to each other about the blackout, and everyone agrees the timing couldn't be worse. The man down the street has taken on the role of neighbourhood Oracle, advising people as they pull up in their cars arriving home from work; The power's out! Not a volt! Nothing works! He sounds really excited about it.

I settle into the deckchair out the front. I make myself comfortable on the cushion Podder usually sits on - it's covered in cat fur, like a small furry hide, and I watch the world go by for a bit. The New Parents down the road are taking the baby out for a walk, it's too hot to keep him indoors in this weather. They're thinking about going to the local cinema, but of course it's blacked out too - so, just a walk then.

I sit back and read my book, for over two hours, but the book's engrossing and I don't even notice the time passing. I sweat quietly, without worrying, and just enjoy the free time.

Eventually the power comes back on and I retreat back indoors, and so does everybody else, and the unusual sound of neighbourly conversation eventually stills, and I can hear the hum of airconditioners powering up, and the faint sounds of a radio floating down the street, and doors slamming as people close up their houses again against the summer sun.

I assume my previous position in front of the sewing machine, and so it goes.

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