PC 108 I’m Long and Black

Oh! If I could only talk I could tell you a thing or two …….  but if it helps I’m almost 50 years old; not that it matters as I don’t measure my existence by years but by my capacity to deliver what I was made to do. OK So I’ve got your attention, that’s good as normally I am just left in a cupboard hung up, feeling abandoned ……. until the next time. Currently I’m in the cupboard with the hot water tank, a lazy maid and some Samsonite luggage as there’s no garage or attic where we live. It’s warm when the water’s hot and quite dry, so I can’t complain.

My first memory I think comes from 1969, when my owner needed something like me; it’s a good feeling to be wanted. He had a large room in the Officers’ Mess Annexe of the Artillery Barracks in the German town of Lippstadt, on the edge of the Paderborner Plain.

Sudstrasse Lippstadt

You can see the building that was the Officers’ Mess in the top of this satellite photo; looks like a hotel now with sun umbrellas in the garden. The block on the right now labelled Radio Lippe Land e.V was our officers’ accommodation. At the bottom was Regimental Headquarters, now the Conrad Hansen Musikschule der stadt Lippstadt. But I digress!!

The barracks had housed a Luftwaffe battalion and the Mess itself was beautiful, but single officers’ accommodation was limited, hence the annexe within the main barracks. Sadly there were few electrical sockets and he saw a need for an extension cable of some sort. Ah! You’ve guessed it, I’m an electrical cable; three wires, green, red and blue (See Note) sheathed in a black outer casing. I used to be part of an enormous reel of cable that the army used for all sorts of things. Then one Saturday my owner soft-soaped the soldier in charge of the stores to cut some off; it was about 15 yards long (we didn’t ‘do’ metres in those days.) At one end he fitted a square pin extension block and at the other a German two pin plug. The smart record player, the radio and a couple of lights were all plugged in. Oh! And I am ¼ inch in diameter.


You might be surprised to read that I gave birth once! My owner needed about six feet of flex. He never told me why, just got a pair of pliers and cut it off! Didn’t hurt as I am inanimate but I healed up quite well, particular when the plug was refitted. By then we were back in England so my two end connections didn’t change. At one end I have a rubber coated square three pin plug, at the other a rubber coated socket. Both have become pretty grubby over the years but it’s been a long haul!

It’s hard to imagine today but outside lights at Christmas were a real novelty back in the 1980s …… and the best ones came from Germany ….. so a visit to a Christmas market in Hanover secured a large string that was rewired with a UK square plug  and that was plugged into me. In those days he didn’t have an outside socket and he relied on me, you see. But it was suffocating, being wrapped up in lots of plastic bags and duct tape to keep any rain out. Oh! The ignominy of it!


Wanda the bronze angel fish doing her thing, provided with power by me! (circa 2001)

I was also used to provide power to the pump that fed water up into Wanda; it came out of her mouth!! But when the outside socket was fitted, my job was done, and I went back to hanging around, for some time at the top of some cellar steps.

Occasionally I would have a car vacuum cleaner plugged in but the suction was never strong enough and invariably the domestic vacuum cleaner was used. Don’t ever do this on a driveway which has been surfaced with gravel. I have always thought of myself as a sort of DIY (Do It Yourself) extension cable; no pretences, me. But I remember he once was in B&Q (a DIY Store) and saw an extension cable in a proper reel, red I think it was. I could sense he coveted it, looking all neat and new, but he is loyal to me and walked away, shaking his head and muttering.

I am grateful for his love of sailing, you know. If he hadn’t learned about how to handle ropes (on board a yacht a rope is actually called anything but a rope – for example warps, sheets, halyards, guys etc,) I would not be in as good a shape as I am now. On board a sailing yacht a tangled rope is a disaster waiting to happen, so there was constant vigilance to ensure all ropes were tidy and coiled It’s best to coil the rope/cable into the left hand, as that movement of the wrist takes out any twists in the rope. Wire cables such as me are no different.

In my twilight years I am generally used to connect to a jig saw, a sander or a garden strimmer, as his drill is now a Dewalt cordless one. You might think this is progress but he uses it so little the battery is invariably dead and needs a charge!! Maybe he rues the day he got rid of the one that needed me; who knows?  I won’t mention the fact that he uses the garden table as his workbench and that it occasionally gets nicked, sawn and drilled into (so don’t tell anyone). I cringe when it happens but what can I do?

Wanda 4

And my friend Wanda? Well, she’s come inside …… and seems content to look wistfully down the road to the sea …… some 150m away.

Sometimes one gets an idea and just needs to scribble …… inane really

Richard 21st October 2017


Note: these days it would be yellow/green, brown and blue

old & new

Old (ie me!) on the left, new on the right

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