Checkmate!

July 18, 2007 at 6:11 am (Uncategorized)

We had another full blackout at our place last night. It’s the second total outage in as many weeks, and the fifth in a month of various depletions, and I have to say it all feels a trifle… well, primitive. It is 2007, after all, and we’ve already passed the halfway mark. We’re not in some kind of remote desert outpost – we’re in Sydney. I know for many people around the world Sydney is precisely their idea of a remote desert outpost, but for those of us who actually call the place home, we like to imagine it’s a little closer to civilisation. So I don’t love the fact that we keep losing power, especially because it’s the dead of winter.

Sydney experienced its coldest day in 21 years yesterday. I think today is having a fair crack too. Which makes a blackout rather a downer when you rely on two (albeit gas) heaters to warm the hearth. Both our gas heaters have fans that pump heat outwards, so neither works properly during these power outages. One sort of blazes impotently, the three gas panels all lit up with nowhere to go, and the other just goes on the blink as if in sympathy with all the white goods with which it keeps such cosy company in the kitchen. They’re all in it together.

Anyway, the reason I’m telling you all this is because sometimes an interruption to one’s routine becomes an opportunity to enjoy a new activity, and that’s certainly what happened last night. We’d been watching a DVD when the room was plunged into complete darkness, and because it was just past 8 o’clock, it was far too early for bed (we’re night owls). My ever-resourceful husband suggested a game of chess by candlelight, and so that’s what we did.

He’s got a cool chess set from his childhood period in the Philippines: all the pieces are hand-carved. And it’s not one of those eminently practical but disappointingly dinky travel sets, either – it’s full sized. We set tea lights and a few candles all about the lounge room, and would have opened a bottle of red had we not raided the cellar so comprehensively a couple of weeks ago, and settled into the game once Llew had apprised me of the rules. All in all, it felt very pleasingly like being snowed in at a remote log cabin.

Well, I loved it. I didn’t win, but I loved it. It was so gripping – I really did try to outsmart Llew, but in the end my king was surrounded on all sides. He was outnumbered, outwitted, and outclassed by Llew’s hostile forces, and I couldn’t rescue him from the slavering jaws of a most decisive defeat. I felt bad for the guy, I did, especially as he was all dressed up and standing so proud and tall, but on this occasion I just wasn’t up to the task of defending his kingdom. When you think about it, it was rather a big ask for a complete and utter novice. There’s only one thing for it: a rematch, and soon.

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