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. Michelle in NZ

    Danny – thank you for looking after us and Fiona so well. Hope your spud crop continues to be glorious.

    Fiona – is it safe to be working near Freddie while you’re still recovering? Pleased that you’re well on the mend.

    Scary stuff with the laptop. The worst I’ve done is feed a standard keyboard or two a cup of tea. They don’t like it!

    Care and huggles from a chilly Wellington, Michelle and Zebbycat xxx

  2. magic cochin

    Hi Danny,

    I’ve enjoyed reading your perspective on life at Cottage Smallholder. I hope your potatoes are thriving after all the rain we’ve had. Amazingly we didn’t get the big storm yesterday, we we’re just on the edge of it and only had a little rain and distant thunder.

    As it’s very ‘in’ to grow your own veg and be more thrifty, a publisher may well snap up Fiona for a compilation of articles fron CS. Or a magazine or colour supplement would like a regular weekly column? Unless a book gets mega hyped or is a real stayer, it won’t fill the coffers, but a regular column drip feeds into the housekeeping funds and may well lead to a book that gets more buyers.

    and… Fiona – please don’t over do it! Be kind to yourself, so you get 100% better.


  3. Veronica

    Yikes! The flames must surely be terminal 🙁 It’s well worth checking on the household insurance to see if it’s covered.

    I think Fiona should have a daily newspaper column, a bit like the Country Diary in the Guardian, only much better. It would be a great improvement on the dull “lifestyle” columnists they have now! I wouldn’t like her to stop blogging though 🙂

  4. Lindsay

    I think Fiona has competition, Danny!

  5. Joanna

    I agree it will be great to have Fiona back and that you Danny have been doing a sterling job in her absence. Maybe you could do a guest spot every now and again

  6. I agree with Lone that a book would be awesome, and there’s plenty of scope here for articles too. I am happy to help out if I can 🙂

  7. michelle sheets

    Thank you Danny for the fill in posts, you are no slouch when it comes to writing either! I hope you will guest spot sometimes, its fun to get a outside perspective on Fiona

    So Fiona, I hate to say it, but in my experence, home electonics and flames don’t mix. I asked my techie husband, and he is guessing that there is a loose connection/short with the battery, and when the compressed air came it contact with it, well, you saw what happened.
    Maybe you can claim it on your homeowners insurance?

  8. Jane aka:aromatic

    Thank you Danny, your posts have been a delight to read and although it will be wonderful when Fiona returns to pick up the reigns so to speak, you will be missed!!
    Fiona is a brilliant writer thats for sure, but please don’t put yourself down Danny.. your posts were also very well written.
    Seems the laptop has suffered a complete breakdown and will no doubt require some very expensive ‘health care’ or is this a terminal situation? How did it manage to set alight when the power was off… guess this will be another mystery of life!!
    Well until we meet again Danny, I wish you well!!
    Glad Fiona is much improved and look forward to another brilliant post!!
    Love Jane xxx

  9. Thnaks for keeping us posted about Fiona, all the best wishes also from Norway.
    Fiona is a star at writing, and her daily stories whiskes me away from all trivialities. Beautiful descriptions, an good eye for details and with a great sence of humour. How about a book?

  10. Annette

    Thank you Danny for your emergency trilogy and keeping fiona’s readers informed, please wish her well.
    I must just say that I totally agree with your comments Fiona is a brilliant writer and I would so miss her blog if I had no access to a computer. I hope she is soon fighting fit and entertaining us all once again.

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