Greek electricity meters — items of quite spectacular ugliness — must by law be affixed (more or less) prominently on the front outside wall of the house. They contain, as well as the meter, a main circuit-breaker, and there is a little lever on the outside of the box enabling one — theoretically — to reset this should it trip. The lever rarely works, because the circuit-breaker is cunningly fitted — or just left hanging on its wires — a centimetre or so clear of the lever. Greece being Greece, this breaker is usually of a lower rating than the biggest breaker in the house’s internal fuse-box, so it often trips even though nothing indoors has tripped. So one goes outside and fiddles with the lever. One usually fails, and then the only thing to do is break the seal on the meter-box and reset the trip directly. Sometimes I do this for a friend or neighbour, having been given permission by the local electricity company man, because local electricity man trusts me (Yes, really) and getting me to do it beats coming away from a warm TV-side and up to the village. But it is of course Streng Verboten, which brings me to my point:
As I mentioned the other day, we have been having the first big autumn rains, with their accompanying power cuts: the electricity would go off for a few minutes or a few hours, then come back for another few minutes or few hours. Each time it went off, my German neighbour rushed out and fiddled with the lever on his meter. Sometimes this ‘worked’; that is to say, the power came back on while he was fiddling. But usually it didn’t. Eventually he came to me; ‘Simon, I don’t understand how this meter system works…’ I tried to explain, but he doesn’t really believe me: he remains convinced that each time the electricity comes back on, it is the direct logical result of his lever-fiddling.