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It not a joke!!! It is the truth!!!

Giving people what they want: violence and sloppy eating

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Hello world
mini me + poo
The power went off just after nine this morning. A big plume of smoke could be seen towards Crystal Palace and we had a call from someone coming over that the trains weren't going along one of the two lines near us.

A call from someone closer revealed that it was an electricity sub-station going bang, and could he come over to do some washing because it looked like taking four or five hours before the fire was extinguished and - apparently - might be days before power would be restored.

Gosh that was frightening... Never mind having to do all clothes and dish washing by hand, with cold water (gas heating/hot water, but electric pumps), never mind quite probably no school for JA next week, never mind losing a recently refilled freezer's worth of food... no internet!

Fortunately, it came back a few minutes ago, so the power cut was about three hours long.

How long is civilization meant to be away from breaking down? As someone who grew up quite happily with power cuts in the early 70s (miners strikes leading to coal shortages at power stations) it feels like it got shorter.

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It's the captions on that BBC story that amuse me the most - some flames, a fire engine, etc, headline "The fire affected traffic lights in the area." Any traffic lights visible? No.

Smoke, some flats, a tree, headline "Trains are not stopping at Forest Hill." Any train related stuff visible? No. Anywhere near Forest Hill, not particularly, I think...

If road transport into London is substantially stopped for a day (eg fuel crisis), people will start panic-buying and generally panicking.

I think I've told you before that there's 2 1/2 days worth of food in London...

Don't people have more than 2.5 days worth of food in their houses? We could probably just about do a month on tinned stuff, pasta and rice bought in bulk.

Lots of people don't - if you have a largeish family all the pasta and rice could disappear in under a week, and that's hardly a balanced diet.
But the main thing bringing it down is all the schools, hospitals and supermarkets etc doing 'just in time' delivery, because they don't have the storage space. If I've recently done a shop, then I could easily feed 4 adults for a fortnight. If not...

How much of that food would be in the fridge, or freezer though?

i was born in the 70s and just about remember the power cuts. I think people coped with them better because they knew they were going to be hapening. Inthe ummer of 1995 there was a seris of power cuts in the area of Bradford where i lived (we always suspected it was due to Yorkshire Cable bumping into power lines but they denyed it). The firest one was cary nd brought everyoneone out onto the street but after that we got quite blase about them and jut made sure we had some non-perisable food an could make coffee with gas. Though if it covereda big enough are to take traffic lights out that stayed rather worrying!
Though saying that - i got very freaked out by having no landline for half a day trhe week before last!

This looks to have taken out a whole sector of SE London, from zone two (Brockley) to at least zone five (Bromley).

I know at least one person lost their landline, but that was because they now know their portable handsets have rubbish battery life.

Lucky you - we were out for nearly 12 hours down in Crystal Palace. Fortunately it came back before it got dark, though we'd sensibly gone and rounded up all the candles in the house while we could still see what we were doing!

That said, I don't think it's a sign of civilisation breaking down, and the analogies with the 'brownouts' and night-time energy shortages of the 70s aren't really valid. This was a fire at a substation, not a shortage caused by lack of fuel or staffing. And far from civilisation breaking down, we saw plenty of examples of people helping each other out. Kids were playing in the streets, neighbours were sitting on the door steps sharing cups of tea. Crystal Palace Park was full of happy people who'd taken the power cut as a hint to get out into the fresh air and have some fun.

I'm not suggesting that there were hordes of people looting the Co-op after five minutes, but pondering how much more critical the electricity supply is for day-to-day life.

Losing the TV in the 1970s was a pain - I don't think BBC1/BBC2/ITV did things like adjust their schedules to accommodate the people they knew couldn't see episode x of series y by repeating stuff at a time the power cut rota said a different group of people were 'off', but hey, it's just TV.

(For me, the most significant impact was that the surgeon who was going to operate on my left middle finger retired in the middle of it, all 'non-essential' operations being postponed across the country of course - and his replacement was very new, no where near as good, and by the time someone else good was found, it was was too late. So I still have very limited use of that finger.)

Today, losing connectivity with the outside world hurts more, because we rely on it more. Not just internet, but lots of mobile phone towers were obviously out from the drop in signal quality and congestion. Similarly many more companies would be dead without a power supply.

A few years ago, the IRA realised they only had to hit a dozen or so points to cut London off for a significant time. Fortunately, they got caught and no-one else has tried it.

Edited at 2008-06-14 11:44 am (UTC)

Oh, losing analogue radio will be another step: the range of transmissions is shorter, there are lot fewer battery powered digital radios out there, and they seem to eat batteries at a much higher rate.

It also brought home how many things need regular recharging...

Yes, my phone running out of charge mid-afternoon was quite annoying, especially since our landline phones have electric base units as well so they'd all died. Fortunately I was able to borrow lolliepopp's phone when I needed to!

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I remember the 70s and 80s cuts. We had a real fire and battery radio. My cooking was all electric though. Gas central heating but an electric pump. I'm all electric now. I'd have some food, but I only have a small freezer and of course that stuff wouldn't last. I have bottles of water but hadn't really thought about food with no electricity.

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