Sparks

I was following a vague memory of a Nigella Lawson recipe in the kitchen and had just put it in the fridge to set (Slut-Red Raspberries in Chardonnay Jelly). I pottered into the living room and was about to settle down when I heard a funny noise coming from the dining room, where the rabbits live.

It sounded a bit like marbles falling onto a hard surface. Strange sounds usually mean that they’re out and up to no good, so I went to have a look. Usually they know if they’re doing Bad Things and stop when shouted at. Nobody and nothing can do bemused innocence like a rabbit.

I opened the door, and saw the cause of the noise. There’s an air purifier in the room because the rabbits are quite dusty; they had managed to pull out the cable from what Nick and I thought was a secure place. They had been chewing on it. Chewing on a cable attached to a live appliance. Big blue sparks were coming out of the cable and making the popping noise I had heard, yet both bunnies seemed unconcerned and were hopping around it. I bent down and threw a box to get them out of the way (well, I wasn’t going to touch them at that point) and yelled for Nick to switch the power off.

I was suddenly kneeling in darkness and thinking it rather silly that I have a torch in a sensible place, but that I wasn’t sure where that place was. We both used our phones as torches and tried to find some matches. Eventually some were tracked down and we began trying to unplug the offending cable by candlelight.

This was easier said than done. Our landlady let us an unfurnished house containing lots of horrible white melamine furniture. When we moved in, we had to pile a lot of it up and ‘lost’ some of it in the shed and garage. The socket is behind two cheapo chests of drawers, one on top of the other, and we had to dismantle the whole edifice to reach the socket and unplug the air purifier. All this was by the light of two ornamental candles: one beeswax, the other sandalwood scented.

House bunnies moult constantly so there was a lot of fluff and dust behind those drawers. Once it was safe, we put the power back on in between sneezes. I was about to start to vacuum, but Nick decided to check the vacuum cleaner’s cable too. Just as well – the flex had teeth marks in it and the live wire had been neatly exposed. We did some repairs, cleaned up, and restored the room to normal.

The rabbits were entirely unconcerned throughout. I suppose they didn’t feel the sparks through their thick fluffy coats, but I am amazed neither were electrocuted. Debbie was almost sitting on the cable when I discovered it and was quite unwilling to move: hence the box throwing. There were no burn, melt or scorch marks on the mat or carpet, but I suppose it was just a matter of time. Check the batteries in your smoke alarm today, folks. Mice and rats like chewing cables too…

Later, I went upstairs and switched on my laptop – nothing. I waggled the cable – brief flash of life, then nothing. I swapped the power supply – fine. I had a look at the old cable and little, sharp bunny teeth had tidily severed one of the wires inside.

Nigella Lawson has a recipe called Peter Rabbit in Mr McGregor’s Salad. I must have a look at that again.

28 August: the jelly wasn’t very nice. I used Riesling instead of Chardonnay and I underestimated the amount of sugar required.

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