Hazel McHaffie


Wow! Who knew how utterly dependent I am on a supply of electricity to function?

A crisis this week, followed by renovations in our house, has meant four times being without electricity for several hours. There was even a scary episode – power-related – late at night, leaving me quivering in the dark, as something caused the hot water tank to threaten to explode, violent vibrations shaking the floor we stood on, echoing around the empty box-room and reverberating through the whole houses. Crossed my mind no electricity might be the least of my worries; it felt we were in imminent danger of being blown to smithereens!

Being without electricity meant all my carefully timetabled plans for productive days were wiped out completely. I had to resort to reading a book – not on the schedule for this week! Not that that’s a bad thing in and of itself, of course; but it felt like it when there were deadlines for presentations on the priority list. What’s more, I was anxious not to lose the momentum of the thoughts and ideas I’d had overnight, and keep them mulling subconsciously, so I needed to find something that wouldn’t occupy too much brain space.

Gerald’s Game by Stephen King wouldn’t have come to the top of my pile in years. And so far, really isn’t my bag either – sorry, Mr King! In essence the story’s about a woman, left stranded, handcuffed to a bed, in a remote lakeside cottage, and now contemplating her death. Her husband is lying on the floor, dead from a sudden heart attack. A hungry stray dog is marauding through the house. She is isolated, all alone … except for the voices in her head … arguing, scolding, reminding, sneering … And boy, is the predicament she’s in spun out!! The first 290 pages (of 394) see little progress of any kind in escaping from her dilemma. Her attempts simply to get a sip of water to quench her raging thirst occupy pages and pages. And yet we know more and more about her. Amazing what someone of King’s calibre can do with next to nothing. But as the strap line has it: words are his power.

It’s been a salutary experience. The shenanigans with the loss of electricity in our real lives, illustrate one important lesson: never leave preparation for talks till the eleventh hour! Mercifully I didn’t. There’s still time to rectify this. And happily we are now back to fully functioning, with a renewed appreciation for what we so often take for granted.

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