Powerless – The Year the Lights Went Out

Friday, May 2 – We’ve had our chips
I now wish I’d never made the doughnuts. I should never have let Stephen try deep frying. It was disastrous and he is going to take a long time to recover.
I feel it was all my fault. I didn’t emphasise enough how important it is to keep the pan steady on the trivet. But of course he hasn’t been cooking regularly on the open fire, like I have for the past seven months since the power cut began. He knows how to cook on a modern oven and knows not to leave a chip pan unattended, but he hadn’t thought about what could happen with the fire. I suppose we are lucky the fire wasn’t worse. But I am very worried about his foot.
And we were all so excited and feeling so jolly about the simple prospect of having egg and chips for supper. Such an innocent request that ended so terribly.
He had peeled the potatoes and chipped them, then he waited for the oil to get hot enough and I reminded him to test the heat with a sliver of a chip. I’d normally use a cube of bread, but we don’t have any, so he dropped a test chip in the pan, then poked it with a knife and then, before he could say whether it was ready or not, he’d spilt the pan over the fire and over himself.
The screams, the shouting and the swearing were terrible. Flames leapt up the chimney and rapidly licked across the oil spilt over the brick floor towards the table and the logs stacked either side of the inglenook. Jane and Anna jumped out of the way and Jane said she was running outside for water, while I was shouting that we couldn’t throw water on an oil fire and Martin was grabbing my decent Turkish rug to throw over the flames flickering across the floor.
Stephen was hopping around repeatedly shouting Bugger at the top of his voice and once we’d killed the fire and prevented it spreading further, my main concern was for him. Luckily he was wearing thick socks and heavy boots, so the upper part of his foot and ankle bore the brunt of the hot oil. We plunged his foot in cold water and he tried to sleep with it draped in wet muslin all night. But he is still in dreadful pain and Martin has now driven him to see the doctor.
And all for the sake of a plate of chips. We never managed to eat last night and now the hens have laid more eggs we have plenty to spare. But we shan’t try cooking chips again.

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