15.05.2006 13:15 - Zappity Zap
Her Maj has decided that we are to have a light on the balcony.
Actually, she decided this about a year ago. I, due to a severe allergy to electricity (having once been painfully zapped), have refused to install it.
Yesterday, due to us doing a bit of work on the balcony, the electric lead which was going to connect this all up was found lying under a pile of leaves. This lead was installed by the Belgian former inhabitant of our flat, who shall be known as Monsieur Foudroyé. As you may have guessed, he wasn't a very competent electrical engineer. How incompetent he was I found out - painfully.
Her Maj said that I should have another go at the electric. OK, but I insisted on both our mains switches being switched off. I don't trust M. Foudroyé, after having seen several of his "installations eleectriqué", or, as they are known in the trade, "deathtraps". The electric was duly turned off, and I stripped the wires and started screwing them into the lamp, earth first, then the blue one, and then finally the brown one.
It was at this point I registered some discomfort. I registered the discomfort by screaming and leaping into the air. I'd just recieved a shock which I wasn't supposed to be able to recieve. I explained this in fluent swear to Her Maj, who had an inkling that the power was still on by the way the light flashed. Never mind, she said, we can do it with the lightbulb unscrewed.
"Fuck off", I explained.
This, you see, is alternating current. That means that the bity stuff comes out of both wires. I know this, having worked on power stations. Nevertheless she persuaded me to just tighten up the screw on the final wire. I attempted to do so and recieved another dose of the finest german electric money can buy. Ow.
You see, as we later discovered, Monsieur Foudroyé had connected up this electric not from the supply in the flat, but from a totally-unrelated supply in the stairwell. Needless to say, this supply was not on a breaker, and was held together by the wires being twisted, and then taped up with parcel tape.
Later that night, we sat watching TV, where some lunatic was sitting on a Tesla coil zapping things with sparks from his fingers. "HE isn't complaining" noted Her Maj.
Time for a lesson on electrical safety. I pulled out my trusty (and heavy) old edition of "Electrical and Electronic Engineering Basics" from the bookshelf, and hit her with it.