Power Struggle in Godzone

The old tosser, back in action: no loss of power there

Electricity became an issue on our recent stay in Godzone.  We were booked to dine with the Bankses but, as Storm Dennis lashed the country, their part of the Secret Kingdom lost power. Indeed, everything east of the A697, even the Red Lion, went dark, and Mr and Mrs Banks, not to mention their guests, were unable to cook their planned slow-roast.

Curiously, their power comes from Scotland: whereas, we’re assured by one who knows, those of us living to the west of Milfield are on the tail end of an English supply. Time was, we suffered a lot of power-cuts, but nowadays our cables appear to withstand even a named storm. So, happy ending, the Bankses came to us instead, returning the compliment later in the week.

Nasty thought: if Scotland declares independence, will all of Godzone to the east of the main road lose its right to Scottish electricity? Now, that would truly be a power struggle.

And we might keep having to feed Banksy.

Meters not so smart

To read the adverts, you’d think everyone’s on a Smart Meter these days. Even in the remote fastness of Godzone, the utility companies are busy installing. Our supplier insisted we have one, and duly appeared at the appointed time. 

All went smoothly until they tested the technology. Which didn’t work. At least, it supplied the juice, and recorded how much of it: but it failed to talk wirelessly either to the box that’s supposed to sit indoors (allegedly so we can monitor our usage minute by minute) or to Company HQ.

The reason? Insufficient phone signal. Any inhabitant of Godzone could have told them that, throughout most of the area, signal is dodgy at the best of times. I guess they didn’t think to ask. In truth, our BT broadband is excellent, so our phones work through the Wi-Fi. But the Smart Meter? Not so smart after all, it seems.

Indeed, they aren’t. Back in Oxford some months ago, our supplier (a different one) was equally anxious to get us “smarted up”, this one metering both gas and electric. No sooner had the engineer arrived than he was scratching his head in the way that they do. 

“Problem?” I asked.

“’Fraid so, mate. See that extra feed going out the top of your meter cupboard?”

“Yes,” I replied. “I think it powers the extension the last owners built.”

“Well, I can’t fit the smart meter with that there. You’ll have to get it moved.”

“At my expense?”

“Oh, yes. The company won’t pay.”

“Well,” I concluded. “Nor will I. I didn’t ask to have a smart meter: it was your guys who were desperate to install it, not me!”

What a tosser!

Good job everyone had power for Shrove Tuesday, at any rate.  VoTN co-founder Keith Hann was on Twitter recalling how, in his youth, pancakes were something you had once a year, eaten simply with lemon and sugar.  Banksy and I concurred. 

In reminiscent mood, Keith wondered if he should try Spam fritters for the first time in decades: apparently he rather enjoyed them half a century ago.

I advised against. Most self-indulgent things one liked in childhood – like Tizer, raspberryade, Lovehearts, banoffee pie and candyfloss – are pretty disgusting when you return to them. Even lardy cake, once to me a rich delicacy, nowadays looks so full of fat (which it is, hence the name) that I feel the fatal heart-attack coming on as I reach for a slice – and desist.

Still, we did things properly on Pancake Day, as the picture above demonstrates. “There’s the old tosser, at it again,” declared friends.

Which reminded me of my very early days as a headmaster, when my school’s music department did a band tour to the Barcelona area, specifically Tossa de Mar. 

Above the beach towered the fortress of Old Tossa. My colleagues were surely bursting to make jokes about the castle being named after the boss: but my young daughters were on the trip, so I guess they didn’t dare – not audibly, anyway.


  1. Smart meters; my (new) electricity supplier tried suggesting installation of a ‘smart’ meter was one of the conditions of my contract. when i asked them to show me specifically where this was stated, they e-mailed back to say they had noted my preferences. Since they are under pressure from the Government to install the things they seem prepared to try any means to reach their targets. I have yet to be convinced of the value of such metering, especially in areas with such poor telecommunications.


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