16th May 2020
Has a powercut ever made you rethink your life? Following a lightning strike last weekend, this IMAGE writer did just that
Ireland has been blessed with the weather lately.
There are farmers all over the country standing in fields forlorn. They are scratching their heads and praying on their knees for even the tiniest drop of precipitation.
The rest of us, on the other hand, are delighted. We are gleeful at the sight of the sun. Imagine this lockdown in the muggy warmth and stale smell of Irish summer rain.
What would we do?
Well, collectively, we would lose it. Ireland as a whole is in the midst of a painting renaissance. Every soul on this island is painting their house and outside walls. If the weather wasn’t on our side, we would paint the rooms inside, I’m sure, but there are only so many. Eventually, we’d end up painting each other – such is the need of us as a people to get our hands on a paintbrush and a bucket of Dulux.
A lightning strike
We are all on the verge of disintegration. Let’s not beat around the bush, this quarantine is difficult. However, it is made all the more painful when your house gets struck by lightning.
Last Saturday, while the rest of the country enjoyed the glorious sunshine, Kerry was nailed with a thunderstorm warning. All-day it rumbled, following us as we went about our daily tasks like a bad hangover. I wondered if God was a Dub and this was his way to punish the Kingdom.
With no football being played this year, I thought this a very likely reason.
It seemed God and mother nature took a particular liking to our house which got directly hit by a sword of electric force. My dad likened the sound to an explosion. The phone socket box flew off the wall, it blew holes in electrical plugs and smashed our main electrical fuse to smithereens.
In hindsight, we were extremely lucky. The house could easily have been lit up in flames. When the initial shock subsided, we had to perform an overview of the damage.
The power was gone.
The strike had blown not only the Sky box but the television too – and the wifi was out. Like all good mothers, mine went into survival mode. She must have lit 100 candles. There were candles on tables, windowsills, toilets, bins, dogs, and anything with a flat surface.
I thought my brother was going to collapse. His phone data was gone and so the last remaining string tying himself to the real world was snipped. We realised the power was back at our neighbours, but not at ours. The ESB was called and said it was our problem, not theirs. It felt like a breakup.
If we didn’t have the ESB then who had we at all?
A time machine
We were lost, confused, and in darkness. Our phones had lost battery, as had our laptops.
My mother continued to light candles.
I just sat there drinking a €7 bottle of rosé. “There’s no need to be stressed,” I said nonchalantly as I sat and continued to do nothing to help the situation.
I wasn’t too unlike my father, who sat there comfortable and secure in the candlelight. He was bred for this life. His family didn’t get electricity until he was at least 10 years old, and the toilet was always outside. My brother made the mistake of saying how difficult it would be to live without electricity long-term. To this, my father berated him, giving him a speech about oil lamps and whatnot.
The moment he began, it was as if I had hopped into a DeLorean and travelled back to the 1940s. Eamon De Valera was Taoiseach and we were living on rations. Turf was money and donkeys were Land Rovers.
Safe and serene
A power cut isn’t a big deal. We had them many times before, but this one felt different. Ours only lasted for 24 hours, but in that time the chicken for Sunday dinner had begun smelling odd. It seemed all the more intense because we had been living in close quarters with technology. Never before have we been so dependent on outside lines for information and human connection. In those hours, we were completely and utterly isolated.
We sat there in silence and looked at each other in the dimmed light of the candles. Once the panic subsided, it was nice. We sat and chatted, drank beer and wine. It was a quiet relief not having to depend on the blue light of screens. We were together and safe. Not many have that luxury.
I went to bed that night feeling serene. Who needs electricity I thought to myself, we have each other and that’s enough.
Unfortunately, this tranquility only lasted 8 hours. A very good neighbour fixed our electrical issues, but we soon realised the wifi and Sky box were still not breathing.
I thought my brother was going to crumble in a flood of tears.
The following night I woke at 3 am to the sound of my father going outside. My mother had been awakened abruptly by the sound of hooves running outside the window.
The calves had broken out.
It was then I realised I was living in a rural parody.
I thought of the farmers and the rain, and them scratching their heads and praying.
I prayed too. Except instead of rain, I prayed for the sun.
And begged God for no more thunder and lightning.
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