We always kept a stock of candles 'just in case'. After all, we were in the middle of nowhere – and you never knew whether or when the electricity supply would be interrupted (and how long it would take to be repaired if it did). And so I was always prepared – but not for what happened next!
We had our very own electricity supply via overhead power cables strung across the fields, equipped with 'high-wind failsafe devices', comprised of hanging (off the power line) mercury-filled switch connectors, which would disconnect the supply if the line was blown down into a field by high winds (to save the cows from being electrocuted). Being in a valley, we often experienced gusts of high winds, resulting in the supply being temporarily (rarely for more than a few minutes) cut off. The previous day (I think this is called 'sod's law') the electricity company had visited to ask my permission to cut back some of my trees to reduce the risk of a windblown branch bringing down the line which, I refused ('Oh how the mighty are fallen').
Next day, just about dusk, our electricity supply failed. 'Don't worry' I reassured the family 'It'll come back on in a few minutes'. Minutes turned to hours, and so, as the children's bedtime approached, I instructed them to put our emergency candles into saucers around the house before they went to bed.
Time came for us all to retire. I carefully went around the various rooms and blew out/extinguished all of the candles and retired for the night. Whilst I was preparing the children's breakfasts (four of those little/growing darlings by this time in my life) I noticed something very strange – a burnt, circular hole in the large antique kitchen table.
Puzzled, I began to examine this very carefully – and then nearly died of fright when I realised what it was. Sarah (god bless her little cotton socks) had inadvertently used a plastic saucer to place the one and only candle she lit (she didn't know – it was too dark to see) and muggins (me) had not blown it out properly when I went to bed! How that plastic saucer didn't set fire to that old wooden table – and then the rest of the house I will never know! And yes, it was all my own fault. And why? Because I had refused to give the electricity company permission to prune my trees!