It’s something less than a black out when you’ve had too much to drink. You have partial as opposed to total memory loss and it’s only when someone reminds you what you called them that the horror returns.
So the other dark and blustery day, lights in our house dimmed and the pump to the water tank failed, as did the router. The telly continued to work, and so did the toaster. It could have been a moment of total memory loss where one of us had forgotten to tell the other in a moment of non sobriety that the world had gone mad or that we’d broken the iron and placed the whole circuit in jeopardy. But it wasn’t.
We checked the central control panel (once the fuse box and now meaninglessly called the consumer unit), but none of the switches had tripped. We scoured the house for an appliance in distress but found none so we phoned the supplier. The supplier said this was a brown out, a dip in voltage, so far reported by 62 households in an area roughly 20k x 10k, which didn’t sound like many households even in a region that’s mostly farm land. She was as mystified at the randomness of the event as I was. She didn’t know what was causing it or how long it would last but she assured us that operatives were, even then, hunting it down.
To counter the personal offence I was taking, she advised that the situation, while looking less dangerous, was possibly even more damaging than a black out. Because small amounts of power were still available to them, appliances would attempt to access it and their repeated efforts would eventually burn them out altogether. This would be fridge, oven clock, router, hot water system, anything relying on a continuous power supply.
Her advice turned out to be excellent but little known. No one we asked had heard it before. Now you know. In the event of a dip, switch your appliances off at the source. Should an alcohol brown out appear on the horizon, same thing. Go home, go to bed, go to sleep. At least switch off your mouth.