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Jimmy Bates candlesBates

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!


Meet The Author...
Jimmy Bates
Who Am I?

A grammar school boy from a working class family, Jimmy Bates has had a chequered career. Before becoming a writer he worked in a variety of jobs, then graduated with an honours degree in electronics, emigrated and became a scientist in Canada and then a director of the same hi-tech company in the U.S.A. He returned to England in 1980 and spent 25 years as a management consultant and held directorships of several high-technology companies before retiring and taking up writing full-time. His interests are history, sociology, science & technology and music. He was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, spent all of his school years in Stoke-on-Trent, is married has six children (all grown up now), four grandchildren and has lived in Herefordshire for the past 25 years. His books (www.jimmybates.com) include:

My Blog...


ONE WRONG TURN: The amazing story of how one single bullet started The First World War

Are You Still Quizzical Joan?: How to run successful quiz nights and raise money for charity

SatNav Rules, OK?: A humorous novel of how modern technology can affect modern society

Fancy a Game of Darts Our Youth? A step-by-step guide on how to play (including humorous personal anecdotes)

Kick out the Brits!: A real-life family ‘US road trip of-a-lifetime’

To Death and Beyond: Short stories of real near-death experiences


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A 3-book fictional story of a serial killer

The Last Scrap: Factual account from turbulent teenage years to a caring father-figure to the next generation.

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