As a child growing up in 80s London, I remember power cuts being a fairly regular occurrence. There was something scary but exciting about them, and I always knew where the candles were, just in case.
In my adult life they’ve been less frequent, and I definitely don’t have any candles on hand. But last Saturday night we had the first of a series of power cuts at the castle, and I had no idea what to do or who to call.
A quick Google search led me to UK Power Networks and you can call their 24-hour helpline or report the fault online. I filled in a web form and was quickly called back. I mentioned to the friendly woman on the other end of the line that I was a wheelchair user and was worrying about having enough light to safely to do my catheter.
She was very understanding and then went through a series of questions with me to establish how reliant on power I am, and what the additional risks and difficulties were that I might face in a power cut. It wasn’t until she started going through these questions that I realised how much of my essential equipment is powered, such as my bed, my chair, my bath lift and my telecare pendant alarm.
They kept me updated by text, and the power was back on within a few hours. This morning I woke up just after 3am – my bed was at an uncomfortable angle and I needed to move. With a strange sense of foreboding I pressed the button – no-response, I immediately knew we were having another power outage. All the subtle little glowing lights that show me my equipment is on were dark. I hadn’t even realised how many of these there were until they were all off.
I reported the fault quickly (I’m now very familiar with the procedure).
If you’re a disabled person who relies on power you can register with UK Power Networks so they can help you more easily in an emergency. My experience of doing this was quick and easy and when I called up in the early hours, they were aware of my requirements, which was great because I was still half asleep.
A couple of hours later all the little power lights pinged back on and I was at last able to move my bed and get comfy.
Someone whose comfort didn’t seem to have been affected at all by the power cut was Monkey Cat who sat unmoving through it all. He barely opened his eyes despite my tics repeatedly saying:
“Power cat or Power Cut? Choose.”
“Monkey cut the power, but he didn’t shoot the Deputy.”
“Monkey, the Lamp-post’s dancing in the dark bathed in cat nip.”
Still, it’s good to know he’s calm in a crisis.