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.