The ticket hall at Warszawa Centralna 25.2.2012. Photo BTWT.
I am not usually afraid of the dark, but as the lights flickered, the power sockets shorted and sparks and smoke flew out of the surge prevention block protecting Sextus, the G5 Power Mac, I confess that I was a little fazed.
But to begin at the beginning, I was about to travel to Lodz on the 21:49 from Centralna. As this was the last train of the day, I contrived to arrive in plenty of time: not only to catch my train, but also to inspect how the ‘revitalisation’ of the station was proceeding.
The main ticket hall was practically empty. Posters advertising the film, Dziewczyna z Tatuażem, added to the eerie atmosphere. How did the original Swedish title, Män som hatar kvinnor (“Men Who Hate Women”) morph to the English version, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, only to lose the dragon in the Polish release (“The Girl with the Tattoo”)?
A few passengers got on the empty 8-coach train. I settled myself comfortably in an empty compartment and settled down to read Frank Mildmay by Frederick Maryatt on my iPhone. Most of Maryatt’s naval adventures have a good-hearted, but naive youngster, as the narrator. He goes to sea as a midshipman in the British Navy and his character is licked into shape during the trials and tribulations that follow. By the end, our hero is a man, the villains are vanquished and the hero marries his sweetheart.
Not Frank Mildmay, the subject is an anti-hero. His decisions start out badly and he never quite manages to free himself from ‘the dark side’. As Maryatt begins to draw all the threads together towards the end of the book, Mildmay rushes headlong into disaster. Too much like real life to be good escapism, I thought. So, as I had already downloaded quite a few other out-of-copyright books, I quickly switch to a Sherlock Holmes mystery.
As the train ran slowly on the track, I allowed myself a moment of satisfied reflection – with Ed Beale now running our narrow gauge section and John Savery taking over responsibility for standard gauge preservation – BTWT is at last on an even keel and nothing should disturb our target of daily publication. (Have you noticed that whenever you congratulate yourself that all is going smoothly, the wheel come off the bus?)
I return home and lean briefly against the wall to ease the weight of my legs. The lights flicker ominously and darken, then after a few seconds they blaze more brightly than they ever did before. Our power sockets crackle, sparks fly from the surge protector and the fuses blow.
This being Poland it takes two different electricians, and most of the following day, to restore decent mains power. We seem to have escaped lightly – burnt out power blocks. The main computer, Sextus, is down, but hopefully only the Apple Cinema Display power supply will need replacing.
We are lucky, we have escaped lightly compared to our neighbours. They have lost a couple of TVs, a fridge and a router. I buy a massive new Polish surge protector and five PL to UK power socket adapters. I order a new power supply for the monitor from China. I order two new power circuits for the flat.
This is being written on Quintus, my trusty 12″ Apple G4 PowerBook. Unfortunately my photographs and most of my programs are on the G5. I yearn for a couple of shots of Zubrowka, but alas, inspired by Michael Dembinski’s example, I have decided to give up alcohol and sugar for Lent.
Aren’t I being good? I hear the warning words again, Pride goes before a fall. As the late Frankie Howard used to say, Here endeth the first lesson!