Before breakfast

Diagram of a possible configuration of ring fi...
Diagram of a possible configuration of ring final circuit. Consumer unit (fuse box) is at bottom left. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The much-needed rain started to fall on Thursday night so when I arose on Friday I expected it to be still raining and it was, in fact it rained well into the afternoon. I didn’t therefore need to water the gardens. I was lying there in bad fully awake and it was about seven-thirty. I had a good night’s sleep and had a bit more sleep than usual but there was no hurry to get up. I lay there in prayer but at eight o’clock the house phone rang. I picked up the receiver and the caller, who was calling on behalf of his neighbour, a very elderly man, needed someone to sort out an electrical problem which kept cutting off the supply. He asked if he had disturbed me from my bed to which I responded with a ‘yes’ but was about to get up anyway. How folk seem to know I am lying down in bed when they call so early is a mystery but I suppose my voice will sound slightly different when lying down. It wasn’t that I had been awakened by the call for I had been awake for over a half-hour. Anyway I told him I would be there as soon as I had dressed. The apartment is in my village and only half a mile or so away. I was there around thirty-five minutes later. As you might have guessed I can wash, dress and apply my make-up very quickly if I have to. The first thing I had to do once there was to remove all appliances from the circuit and isolate the cables at source. As it happened there was an extra cable in the circuit breaker which supplied an isolated outlet which wasn’t faulty and I left it connected so that I could connect the tropical fish tank and maintain the fishes’ environment for I had no idea how long it would take me to repair the fault. I also connected the refrigerator to an outlet on the cooker control switch in order to keep the food inside fresh. Now I could get down to the business of locating the fault on the power outlet ‘ring main’. Some countries don’t use ring circuits for their power outlets but wire each outlet independently to its own breaker at source. A ring circuit is just that, two cables wired into the same circuit protector which form a continuous ring on which all the outlets are connected. See above drawing. Each of the two systems has its advantages and disadvantages. With a ring circuit one has to split the ring at some point and test each ‘half’ to see which remains at fault and then by splitting the faulty section in the same way it is simply a process of diminishing elimination until the fault is pinpointed. It can take hours or minutes depending on the layout. In this case the fault lay behind the refrigerator and in fact was the outlet itself. Although it looked alright visually there was an internal fault shorting the live and earth terminals. I replaced the outlet, replaced all those I had removed in the process, tested the whole circuit and then reinstated the supply. Everything back to normal. The old guy was so grateful that I had called so promptly as was his neighbour and he kept on saying things like ‘You are doing very well girl’ and ‘I’m in safe hands aren’t I girl’, occasionally calling me by name. ‘Girl’ is a local expression used by people from Liverpool and indeed the old guy was born and originally lived there, just like myself. People might say ‘Alright girl’ or ‘Alright luv’ when greeting someone. It is simply a common expression of the area. I was home by ten-fifteen and sat down to enjoy a late breakfast. No sooner had I finished when the old guy phoned me and asked if I could supply him with a receipt for the work as he thought he might be able to recover some of the cost from his landlord. Normally I don’t give out receipts unless asked when once I wrote one out for every job no matter how small. Had he asked whilst I was there I would have given him one but I wrote one out and walked there to hand it to him. I took the opportunity to walk into the village and make a deposit in my bank. My umbrella had one of its rare outings for it was still raining.

Shirley Anne

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