Ruining the mood

2019-04-01 11:00
Stephanie Saville.

Stephanie Saville.

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Is load shedding affecting your general mood?

That’s the question News24 posed on Monday on its Voting Booth on its home page. For those who aren’t familiar with how it works, News24 poses a question, and as you click on your choice among several answers, it magically shows you how the rest of the respondents have voted.

So Monday’s question carried four possible answers.

1. Yes, it makes me irritable and frustrated.

2. No, there’s no point in getting worked up.

3. It can be inconvenient but I try to stay positive.

4. It makes me want to cry in despair.

I voted that it makes me irritable and frustrated, and 60% of the respondents did too. There is comfort in shared misery. Cold comfort granted, but comfort nevertheless.

As I wrote this on Monday, Eskom said there shouldn’t be any load shedding this week. I was touching wood with one hand and typing with the other. But just because Eskom is behaving, it doesn’t mean Msunduzi is …

After a week of stop-start lighting last week, we woke up on Sunday to news of no load shedding for the day.

Yay! We rejoiced. We would have a day where we could do the washing, some cooking and enjoy a televisual feast of all the programmes we’d lost out on due to load shedding in the evenings last week.

Turn, baby, turn, I taunted the electricity meter as I boiled the kettle, did a load in the dishwasher and flung on the stove, with joie de vivre oozing out of every pore. It’s amazing that we’re living in an age where having electricity feels like a luxury, isn’t it?

After the Great Move almost two years ago now, we did not really gear ourselves up for power outages in the new house. The old house was pretty much rigged with lighting and basic comforts to ease the tragedy of load shedding, but the “new” house boasts no such luxury. Candles are our best hope, with one of those Consol jar solar thingies.

So, with the latest round of load shedding we resolved we would take the plunge and fork out for a basic system to keep our home aglow when Eskom gives up yet again, not with a bang, but a whimper.

But when we woke to news of no load shedding on Sunday as the grid had stabilised, I got that little niggle of doubt. Are we overreacting to this?

Do we really need to spend all that money? We can easily put up with the boring prospect of no lights at home every now and again, and save ourselves some moola.

Our day continued happily. But when we had done all we’d needed to and sat down with a glass of Chards to watch TV chef Rick Stein’s culinary tour of Berlin, Whoosh!, the lights went out. (In my head they always go Whoosh! as darkness descends.) That was at 2 pm exactly on Sunday.

“For *&^% sake!” we said in unison. “We’re not supposed to have load shedding today!”

Maybe Eskom crashed. Maybe Msunduzi crashed. (It’s no wonder we get paranoid thoughts ...)

Okay, let’s braai, he said. (Any excuse.) So we braaied. The neighbourhood group said it was a trip on Msunduzi’s side so we thought it would all be on soon enough and we could resume our televisual foray into Berlin’s cuisine.

When the braai was over, and the fridge was still ominously quiet, we sat down again. We had pretty much run out of things to tell each other, having told all our news in the dark hours of the week.

We had reminisced widely. We had said all the lovely things we could think of to say and also had all the domestic arguments we know.

We had bemoaned the bemoanings we like to bemoan and had berated ourselves for not doing the things we always berate ourselves for not doing. (You know those things, change of address at the bank, fixing the leaky tap under the sink, making an appointment to see so and so ...)

“I know, let’s go for a Sunday afternoon drive,” I said. So we did.

We admired the capacious potholes on some streets, saw what others were growing in their gardens, went around to spy on the houses of people we know. (Jeez, he’s doing well for himself. And wow, their lawn could do with a mow. Look at their roses, doing so much better than ours. I wonder what they’re using?)

We went for a slow drive past my late granny’s house, and as we drew up, a warm hug of memories flowed about baking and then eating a coconut cake with her in her kitchen as a six-year-old, so vivid I could smell the cake. I still have her ring mould we baked it in.

We drove around until we’d whiled away a fair bit of petrol. When we thought we were probably being tagged on all the neighbourhood watch groups as a suspicious vehicle casing the neighbourhood, we thought we’d better head home. The lights would surely be back on by now.

Guess what?! They were still off.

“For *&^% sake,” we said in unison again. We felt irritated and frustrated, just like the survey said.

But there and then, I knew my reticence about buying the system that keeps the TV and the lights on, would be an invaluable investment in our mood and help us keep our humour. It’s going to be worth every cent.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  opinion and analysis
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