The Day the Music Died by Trevor Plumbly
A Non-Golden Silence
I was collapsed in the armchair enjoying Julian Lloyd Webber playing ‘The Prelude in E Minor’ (opus I forget which), when the worst happened: a bloody power cut. I checked the fuse box: no blue smoke or strange odours, so it must be external, but caused by what? Earthquake, power surge, electrical storms or whatever, it was still an annoying interruption to an afternoon that had kicked off with a posh lunch that should have led to hours of quiet contemplation rather than half-mouthed curses at the electricity supply company and anyone remotely connected to it. Still, it couldn’t last long, could it? It did! And at the same time, it deposited a strange sense of isolation throughout the house. I vaguely remembered the disaster tips in the front of the phone book: radio; that was the story! I raced into the bedroom, plonked myself on the bed, clutching the thing to me like a soccer goalkeeper and flicked the switch . . . Nothing! I’d forgotten to charge the battery, so it was back to that bloody Boy Scout in the front of the phone book for further advice: ‘You could be alone for some time.’ Great! And just to rub it in: ‘Keep spare batteries handy.’
Calm in the Face of Disaster
I tested the phone: no dial tone. It was one of those portable jobs and I’d forgotten to put it back on its cradle and there was no juice left. I consoled myself with the Baden-Powell clone’s admonition to ‘Use the telephone for emergencies only’. This wasn’t an emergency, so I ignored the rest of his recommendations, picturing him smugly wrapped in warm blankets, surrounded by stockpiles of freshly bottled water and spare bloody batteries, listening to the radio and phoning his mates. What sort of plonker, I mused, would clutter up their house like that? I’d prefer my approach to impending disaster any day, far more challenging: man against the elements, that sort of thing; after all this was just a little power cut and I wasn’t about to panic because I didn’t read that particular page in the phone book. I checked the tap and found the water was OK and anyway there was plenty of beer in the fridge.
Hours later – well it seemed like hours, ‘Casa Plumbly’ was still in isolation and I felt that liquid intake should be considered to avoid dehydration, so I had a beer. If things worsened, lots of people out there might well need fresh drinking water and I was prepared to give up my share to help others. ‘Help others!’ yet another instructional gem from the Armageddon Guru of the yellow pages. A noble thought though, so I took a quick look out on the street, but there was no sign of neighbourly action. Where were they in this hour of joint need? Preparing for the worst by zealously guarding water-bottles and batteries? Or fled to the high ground?
Back indoors, I took a brief inventory of supplies, grabbed a cheese sandwich with a few beers and sat waiting for twilight, trying to plan my next move. A walk was out: ‘Stay indoors!’ the doom doctor had said, and anyway what about security? No power = no alarm system. I pondered the possible scenarios and over a few more beers found that alien abduction was a more likely threat than armed looters. Sure enough they came, nasty little buggers too, Martians I assumed, sort of like Smurf Boy Scouts intent on getting me into the mother ship. In a total panic, I shot to my feet; enraged, I forced the pain of the Martian thought probes aside and wiped the alien liquid paralyser from my face as they re-boarded the mother ship in defeat. This was a life-changing event and as a result I have made two new resolutions:
- Don’t drink red wine at lunchtime. Aliens use it for passports and it gives you a headache.
- Don’t fall asleep in the armchair. You get bad dreams and dogs lick your face.