Friday 27 February 2015

Let There Be Light

Cold wet miserable February I can’t wait to see the end of you. Still, there are a few primroses in the lanes around here – and the days are getting longer so maybe it isn’t all bad. Maybe it’s just that the darkest hour is the one before dawn. All will be well so long as the store of wood holds out and the hens give me at least one egg a day between them. Everyone needs reasons to be cheerful.

My music room is almost finished but until I get the wood-burning stove installed it’s too cold to use. I like the contrast between antique and contemporary just like I enjoy old 1920’s finger-picking guitar tunes played at high volume with electric overdrive.

So in recent weeks I have been trawling second hand shops and car boot sales for music room furniture. I picked up a couple of 1960’s style settees, a glass coffee table and a ‘fake’ Eames chair. Ikea provided me with a shelving unit (flat-pack has its place as a friend pointed out the other day).

Lighting turned out to be a tricky business. I wanted spot lights so that I could direct attention to specific things and areas. My first attempt at fixing a light (one of six) produced a great flash that tripped out all the electricity, not just in the barn but in the main house too. Panic – no under-floor heating, dead fridge, thawing freezers, no lights anywhere, useless oven and a dead sound system. Back to the cold, dark, silent Stone Age in a millisecond. Not a good start. I took out the bulb.

My good neighbour Serge arrived with a circuit tester and quickly found the fault. There was a loose wire in the switch. It was easily repaired. At my next attempt I turned off the electricity in the barn and decided to go for broke – wiring up all six lights in one effort. Back at the barn main fuse-board I flipped the switch back to ‘on’ using a wooden stick – didn’t want to put my hand anywhere near it. Surprisingly nothing happened. No shocks or explosions but no lights either.

            ‘Ah, maybe I need to switch them on’, I thought. I took my trusty wooden stick upstairs and gingerly prodded the light switch – nothing – not even the faintest glimmer.

I went back downstairs and turned off the electricity once again and then painstakingly checked each and every connection. They seemed fine to me.

Now I have a philosophy and an approach to work that has suited me well for more years than I care to remember --- ‘When the going gets tough – take a glass of wine and find a settee to lie on’.

While lying on the settee that I came to the conclusion that if the electric circuits were fine, then the
problem had to be in the light bulbs – maybe I had bought a faulty set. So armed with light bulbs from the house (which I knew worked fine), I went back to the barn with a view to replacing the original bulbs with these.

Once again I turned off the juice at the fuse-box and then headed upstairs with replacement bulbs to make the changes. That is when I made a shocking discovery. So shocking that I fear I may never completely recover – There were no bulbs in the light fittings. The bulbs I had bought with the lights were still in their packaging sitting on the Eames chair. I fitted the bulbs and all was well. So, I have lights, although they were hardly required initially, the embarrassment on my face was enough to light and heat a small room for the rest of the week. Even now I am still surprised and embarrassed when I flick the switch and the lights actually come on. I’m still reluctant to touch the switch though – prefer to stand well away and use my trusty wooden stick – just in case.