Twenty minutes into my first experience of living alone and I’m already stuck. The flat is furnished with some rather lovely things, including a tall, slim lamp with a spherical glass shade. I drag it carefully into the corner by the sofa and plug it in. Sparks fly and I’m plunged into gloom – it is a basement flat that is beautifully cool during these summer months, but a little bit dark. I hunt around in the half-light for the fuse box. It was something I forgot to ask the owner when she showed me around and even though it’s not a big flat, I can’t see it anywhere. Sheepish, I open the door and step onto the landing. I hadn’t noticed it before but to the right of my front door is something which could be a fuse box. I open the plastic casing and flick the biggest switch. At that exact same moment I hear somebody emit a screech from a couple of floors up. Pure coincidence? Horrified, I flick the switch down again.
No choice but to get the neighbours involved. The people opposite are out, so I go up one floor and knock on a heavy, wooden door adorned with a brass crucifix. A smiley man in his seventies appears. He’s wearing trousers and a vest and has a TV remote in one hand. I introduce myself to and explain the problem. His name is Teodoro, and his wife, who joins him at the door, is called Carmen. Teodoro follows me down the stairs. He must be psychic. Either that or the layout in his flat is the same as mine, because he walks straight up to a painting which is balanced on the top of some shelves and removes it to reveal the fuse box. He puts everything right and replaces the picture. Beaming, he welcomes me to the building and tells me to pop up any time.