LOWDOWN Summer 2014 page 27

In the deep midwinter ☃ ☃ ☃ ⛄

We had planned Christmas 2013 to be a quiet one anyway. We had not planned it to be dark, cold, and close to being medieval - well Dickensian at least.

In the very early hours of Christmas Eve, at around 2.20am, Frankie awoke and discovered our bedside alarm clock had gone off. When we rose at our usual time - this is the hour around dawn when Pablo encourages Nico to cry and whine from the bottom of the stairs letting us know how intolerable their hunger pains are. They were augmented by Bo, whom we were looking after over the holiday period. Upon getting up, found we had no power in the house at all, so no central heating, no lighting, and no power for any electrical equipment (our cooker was electric). Unbeknown to us at the time, like thousands of others in the southeast we had suffered the effects of very strong storms which had disrupted the electrical supply.

After trying for twenty minutes, or so, I managed to contact our supply company, UK Networks Power. Recorded messages made it clear that our situation was not unique and that they were dealing with thousands of similar complaints. I continued to make calls throughout the morning, getting increasingly annoyed the endless seasonal recorded music. Finally, the choir was mercifully muted and a real human voice spoke.

Though human and perfectly pleasant, the voice used strange terms such as ‘power-outages’ to describe the situation. At one point I remember asking when we could expect to have back our ‘power-inages’. I was told to try later in the day for further information.

Our only form of heating without the central heating was the woodburner in the sitting room. So this was stoked-up and we prepared for an unusual Christmas.

The hounds stood around Frankie with adoration as she jointed the turkey which was now destined for the freezer. If we were to be without power over the holiday for only cold meals. Luckily, we had cooked meats and cheeses, and salads. Christmas Eve passed by quickly as we planned for a much different holiday.

A ‘phone call made late afternoon confirmed our worse fears - no hope of being restored until after Christmas. As there was little we could do about the situation, we resolved to make the best of it.

Christmas Eve evening found us all clustered in the dark around a roaring fire - the three hounds closest to the flames. Frankie and I attempted to read our books in the pools of candlelight. When this got a little tiring, I searched out an ancient box of Monopoly.

Though slightly distracted by the harmonic snoring of the hounds, and a little jaded by few glasses of medicinal wine, I thought that I played better than to lose as quickly as I did. However, upon returning from yet another trip outside to get more firewood Frankie appeared to have acquired all of Mayfair - and after three further moves I unfortunately lost. Strange.

Before retiring to bed we hung three pet stockings from the tree - it had been an exhausting day.

On Christmas morning we were wakened, not my Nico’s usual whining, but by an unearthly screeching. We rushed to look from the top of the stairs to see three hounds excitedly attempting to tear three squeaky toys apart. Of course, upon going downstairs, the carpet was covered by dog chew wrappings and other evidence of an early Christmas morning beano.

This rather haphazard start set the tone for the rest of the day. Though not the warmest, nor best catered for Christmas, it will certainly be one the best remembered.

Power was restored on the day following Boxing Day. The turkey was resurrected from the freezer for Easter - but that’s another story!

Tony Roberts

Cover of the Basset Hound Owners Club newsletter Lowdown

first published in LOWDOWN

editor Tony Roberts