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11 November 2017

The calm before the storm.

Last Friday evening we held a dinner to celebrate the 6th anniversary of the opening of the Tea Room. My involvement in these things is now purely strategic. By that I mean that when ideas are put to me I either approve them or disapprove them. (More accurately I express either approval or disapproval. What actually happens may be unaffected by my opinions.) In any case my actual involvement in day to day events is very limited – thank goodness.

Imagine therefore the scene at about 6.15 on Friday evening. I was pottering about in our own kitchen, contemplating the sun’s position relative to the yardarm, when Patricia swept in, moderately stressed and asked me to go over to the Tea Room and take a few photos of the Garden Room all decked out for the birthday bash. Which I did. Sarah and her team looked, if not relaxed, well then, in a state of competence relative to the task in hand. I went back to my own kitchen relaxed about the evening ahead. The guests were expected to arrive from about 7.15.

At 6.30, the main Power NI fuse (80amp) on our electricity supply blew, and  the Tea Room was briefly plunged into darkness before the emergency lighting came on. None of the kitchen equipment works without electricity.

I rang Power NI and nearly went into meltdown myself when confronted by the inevitable automated fault reporting system. Eventually by mis-keying my postcode, the automated system rather huffily gave up on me and put me through to a real person. I was told that an engineer would be sent asap. ‘We’ve a lot of customers due to arrive in half an hour, I don’t suppose you have any idea how long that might be.’  ‘I’m afraid he’s out on another job at the minute, but as soon as he finishes there…..’ I didn’t like to ask where the other job was, but assumed it would be Enniskillen or Rathlin. I went into the Tea Room and said I didn’t think there was a pup’s chance of the electricity coming back on any time soon, but not to abandon hope just yet. Patricia was meanwhile clearing the decks in our own kitchen so as we could finish off the cooking from there. The emergency lighting would probably last the evening. Dishwashing looked like being the biggest problem.

At 6.45 Power NI rang me to say the spark was finished in Ballyclare (!)  and was on his way. Within 15 minutes he had replaced the fuse and had us up and running again. To say I was impressed would be to understate my sentiments.

Many years ago I wrote a similar letter to the customers, describing how my day had lurched from crisis to crisis. ‘Never a dull moment,’ I concluded. But now, as then, I quite like dull moments.

See you soon.