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Robin Stern
Photographed 8th April 2020 - 17 days into lockdown 


The power-imbalance in the Sterns’ COVID times:

Two had become six of us by mid-March, embracing three generations and including a designated key worker and a nearly-2-year-old toddler (NOT one and the same, be relieved to know!).  The COVID backcloth was last week made more emphatic with some cold and windy weather.   

What better a time to run out of heating oil (Mon), owing to pressures in demand… Well, that was fine, with electric immersion water heater and some electric heating, we could manage, if in fewer rooms.  Emergency oil delivery booked from another supplier for Wed.

Enter an aroma.  Reminding me of my cack-handed attempts many years ago as an electronics hobbyist, the emergent smell of burning bakelite was strong and unpleasant and very soon quite pervasive.  Couldn’t find its origin anywhere, arguments ensued pointing to someone else’s favourite electrical device: my running machine came in for a lot of finger-pointing. Mid-evening, I sourced the aroma to the main fuse of the property.  It was too hot to touch, had changed colour and was slowly but surely contributing to the smell.  We shut off everything we could overnight, emailing photos to our electrician for his advice the following morning.

Tues was *&^%$y cold! Dishwasher and washing machine had now also broken… what is this? Should we take it personally??

We made it a moment to regain our perspective of how blooming fortunate we remain, when so many others are experiencing COVID: through illness and grief, anxiety and lockdown-claustrophobia in towns and crowded environs.

Be pleased to know that UK Power Networks came out Wed morning; assessed the situation as urgent, by midday we were fixed.  Dishwasher alright now, washing machine using up its last legs, but works, scarily noisily. Main fuse as cool as a cucumber, probably our lekkie bills a bit lower.

Written 6th April 2020


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