The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Blue screen of death gets a hot makeover

Hi everyone,

Fiona went to work today although she is feeling just 80% of her normal wellbeing so this is my (Danny’s) third and final instalment of the Emergency Trilogy. I told her that she simply must get back in harness tomorrow or she will lose her regular readers. She agrees and normal service will be resumed.


I have never known a lady who can produce such dramatics when she is supposed to be lying wan in bed. We had fantastic thunderstorms here (Newmarket, UK) late this afternoon and she returned from work early because her current job is exterior painting at Freddie’s place (be sure to read the comment left by Jimmy N).


We had experienced a power cut by the time she got home, so she decided to tackle her faulty laptop by cleaning it out using a can of compressed air. A reasonable decision given that she could not test it while the power was down.


I heard a strangled squawk from the bottom of the stairs, followed by a pale faced Fiona standing in the doorway of my office (The Rat Room).


“You would never guess in a million years what just happened!”

“Let me guess,” I responded, “you found a lobster in the freezer and are planning a candlelit dinner for two cooked on the emergency one-ring gas stove?”

She seems to develop a hearing difficulty at these moments, when I have delivered my most superb one-liners.

“I removed the power lead and the battery pack from my laptop. Then I sprayed under the keyboard with compressed air. I turned my back for a moment to fetch a dust cloth. And when I turned around . . .”

This time I bit my tongue.

“ . . there were blue flames shooting up from between the keys on the keyboard.

I couldn’t believe it.”


Neither could I but it really happened. She had the presence of mind to fold the hanging end of the tablecloth over the flames and batted them out with her paws.


Amazingly, when the power was restored and she attempted to reboot the dragon, it did go through the motions for maybe one minute before the old problem kicked in and it died with a gentle phut.


Apparently, the compressed air is highly inflammable but, with no power connected, what the heck could have ignited it in the laptop’s innards?


Anyhow, tonight she is retiring early to ensure she is back to full fitness tomorrow.


No doubt she will produce yet another enjoyable article that illustrates her uncanny ability to transform the mundane and unnoticed into a story that will take us all away into another world for 120 seconds or so. Yes, I am biased, but I think she is an absolutely brilliant writer.


All she needs is to find a way of making an income from writing because she simply cannot be painting and decorating in ten years time. All ideas welcome!

  Leave a reply


  1. casalba

    Yes, Fiona is a great writer, but then so are you. Love the humour too.

    I think Magic Cochin hit the nail on the head – and they do say: write about what you know.

  2. Fiona Nevile


    Perhaps I should buy a more reliable laptop next time.

  3. Thank you all for your complimentary remarks about my contribution to Fiona’s blog.
    May I refer to you from now on as “My public”? 🙂

    Fiona thinks it would be a good idea too if I wrote a weekly article. She is coming at this from a different angle: it would give her an evening off!

    I am already considering potential topics:
    101 things you never knew about this household
    What Fiona would never voluntarily reveal, EVER!

    Then again, she might rescind my password 🙁

  4. Toffeeapple

    Thank you Danny for keeping us informed and entertained; as others have said, you too have a good writing style and I hope that this will not be your last post.

    All good wishes Fiona, I hope you are going to let your body fully recover before you tackle any more hard work Big hugs!

  5. I thought this blog I have come across might be of interest.

    they would be amazed at the stuff I throw away. Cucumber wrappers come to mind ….

  6. jeannie camm

    Hi I am quite new to this forum but I just love it!! like everyone else I hope Fiona feels better soon and would love it if Danny does a guest blog every couple of weeks – he’s so funny

  7. Great to hear Fiona is on the mend and your posts have been fab Danny.

    cant wait to hear who wins the potato race!!!!

  8. Michelle in NZ

    Super snugggly huggles to all, especially the Min Pins threesome from a very chilly Wellington Night

    Michelle and Zebbycat send love and caring healing. Now, any chance you could super speedily freight the Min Pins over to here to thaw out Michelle and Zebby. Current Polar (Antarctic) blast very unwelcome and unwanted. Woolley socks on in bed coz Zeb’s body only reaches down to my waist.

    Super Happy Spud times, xxx and spud style purrrrrrrrumbling, Michelle and my purrball

  9. Leslie

    Dear Danny, please don’t sell yourself short. Your one liner about the lobster dinner on the emergency gas ring had me hooting out loud! I vote you do a guest piece every couple of weeks (or “fortnightly” if you prefer).

    I also think Fiona should send a compilation of her blogs around to some magazines to see if they would like to commission her for regular columns mixing country life with food. Her ability to make the mundane interesting would make her a stellar regular attraction.

    Thanks for keeping us posted and please don’t let Fiona overdo as she will push herself and delay her recovery. I know “don’t let” and Fiona don’t go in the same sentence, but you get my drift.

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