Friday 3 November 2023

And then there was light - again

“Genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains.” Thomas Carlyle said it; yesterday I saw it in action.

Abruptly we were without power to our upstairs light circuit. The local guy was quite young, he arrived in shorts, wearing a beanie on his head. Came at 9 AM, left at 1 PM.

All the easy options revealed nothing; now the grind. Four bedrooms, one bathroom, one en suite loo and a landing. All had overhead lights, some more than one. Each ceiling fitting was dismantled with full power off, checked with power on, power switched off, move on to the next. The consumer unit (ie, the fuse-box) is in the garage. Up and down the stairs he went. VR and I sat in the lounge lit by its own circuit. Reading uneasily as the centrally controlled lights there went on and off.  Twenty times? Thirty times?

At 11 AM I asked if he wanted coffee. Turned out he’d had a quick bite in his van. He’d tracked down the part of the circuit at fault. But it was in the wiring, not at the ceiling fitting. No easy solution. Up into the loft he went.

Midday the burglar alarm tweeted, When power was lost it had switched to its battery which had discharged. Power was now getting through. I went up to congratulate him. He shrugged. A wire had been trapped when floor-boards were fitted in the loft. About ten years ago!

Afterwards I noticed the bathroom dome lights. Years ago wasps had crawled into the domes and been roasted. I’d delayed. He’d cleaned out their corpses.

Pure routine, you might say. I’d say cool persistence. The lengthy National Covid Enquiry is currently revealing hideous government incompetence. He could give them lessons. Never knew his name. 


  1. I am happy to learn that the light was restored, all accomplished by a young man who seems to fly in the face of disgruntlement and indifference so commonly associated with tradespeople. We had plumbing issues a couple of weeks ago and were fortunate to have a similar cheery young fellow with an apprentice in tow. Both were pleasant to deal with, competent, polite, respectful and altogether welcome in our home. A hot, steaming coffee and my wife’s exquisite blueberry muffins were enjoyed by all, leaving them with the fervent hope that we have other problems in order that they may return! Their parting words were, “If you need our services again, be sure to ask for Travis and Micah!” We were left with a warm glow - and a few days later, a hefty bill! Such is life!

    1. DMG: Micah, eh? "Micah rebuked Israel because of dishonesty in the marketplace and corruption in government. He warned the people, on behalf of God, of pending destruction.... told them what the LORD requires of them". Etc, etc. No bribery needed. Invoice arrived today and is on the low end of Knowledgeable Neighbour's guesstimate range. Unexpected aftermath: for five or ten minutes after he'd left it was sheer sensual pleasure to use the upper floor light switches.

  2. A trapped wire in the floorboards for 10 years eh? Lucky there was no fire. “Elderscam” comes to mind - I’m sure I didn’t invent the word. I hate to be cynical ( well maybe not) - but a little sleight of hand (and body) could be involved there.

  3. MikeM: All I can say he was here, banging about upstairs for four hours. I visited him once or twice and noted dismantled ceiling fittings in all the rooms. Athough I haven't inspected the repair (he mentioned he hadn't bodged; instead replaced the whole length of wire). The lights work; beforehand they didn't. The initial diagnosis was performed by a different guy from a different company. See response to DMG re costs. The explanation seems plausible since there've been four floorboarding projects in the loft over the years. The invoice says "... found to be a nailed cable and re-terminated joint box in attic"

  4. I once had a mathematician tell me that mathematicians are not necessarily smart, they just have the ability to stay with a problem for as long as it takes to solve it. I think that might be true for many tasks and occupations. There is a beauty to tenacity.