FOLLOWING Storm Arwen, I read the excellent contribution from Michael Russell (Ridiculous rules punish those in more rural parts of the country, Dec 4). I feel, however, that a point of view from one seriously affected by it all would not go amiss.

I am in my late eighties and live three miles from the nearest town, in a fairly isolated location. I had also had the misfortune to suffer an unexplained fall just four days before the storm, when my attempt to eat a serious hole in the tarmac driveway outside my house without the help of a pneumatic drill proved somewhat unsuccessful. This resulted in my being kept in Larbert hospital for three days before being sent home with instructions to take life easy, lie down when necessary and generally be sensible. Adding to the problems was a doctor’s recommendation that I don’t drive for six months.

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This I was doing the following afternoon, Friday, when it all went wrong. Switching on the light prior to getting off the bed – nothing! Then a very protracted journey downstairs to find a torch and candles and get an alternative source of illumination.

Nothing worked: no landline phone, as these nowadays require a power supply before they will talk to anyone. So, much hunting around in a cupboard to locate an old landline phone from the seventies, then get down on hands and knees to get it plugged in to the wall socket and I have a working phone – of sorts – fairly faint but there.

Then the start of the real problem. Try ringing the Hydro Board emergency breakdown number which we have used for years, and while it rings no-one answers. Luckily I have a Calor gas cooker, and had just got some food heated, when – bingo – it all comes back on again! The trouble is that as soon as I have gone around the house putting all the candles out, it all goes off again; light them all up once more, and eventually eat the now seriously secondhand food. Nothing for it but to extinguish all flames and make for a torchlight bedtime story.

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During the last year I have been supplied with a fairly constant flow of literature of one kind or another telling me how lucky I was that from now on I would be part of the Ovo family, who would now be supplying my electricity needs with great care and efficiency, all apparently wonderful. Try the emergency breakdown number again: no-one answers. Up till now one always got straight through to a friendly voice who would update you and ring again later to advise progress, and in the case of the elderly and infirm enquire if any other help was needed.

Now modern progress has taken over and it has all gone to hell in a handcart! I am told by someone who could get the use of internet access that the relevant website had some 16 options available. Not much use or comfort to those in need of support, who were spread all over the country.

A second night in a now seriously cold house in a very cold Scotland. Despite the very genuine concern and offers of assistance from all the people in the district, in the morning it was very obvious that the only sensible course of action was to call my daughter to come and collect me to avoid the attentions of the possible hypothermia waiting just a couple of degrees away.

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And so it stayed for days. My family kept looking at the official website, where it constantly stated that the power would be restored at a certain time, then when that passed it would be replaced by 9pm, then 11pm and so on for the following days. THIS IS VERY SERIOUS STUFF. Either the company were lying to us to try and keep us on side or they were just totally inept and useless. Big business has taken over and presumably the god profit is almighty.

The next problem was the fact that my sheep had to be fed every day, which involved a round trip of 60-70 miles every day to make sure they were dealt with. This in turn put extreme pressure on my daughter’s time and family.

The next significant point was that a local resident who is totally clued-up as regards where the local power lines and similar items are located throughout the area, found not a single sighting of any power company vehicle anywhere in the area, while we were being constantly advised via a website that connection was going to take place imminently. This went on for some days, and is obviously the product of a big business attitude which is totally useless. This dissemination of useless information and blatant untruths is, from the viewpoint of freezing customers, utterly unacceptable.

In the midst of all this the local postman delivered to my address a personalised love letter from Ovo, “Dear GM Mitchell – We are going to increase your direct debit monthly payment by £5 per month from next month”. No mention of the recent notification of winter heat payments being made by government agencies. Aren’t they lovely people – all this in the midst of the worst supply chaos anyone of us has known.

This brings to the forefront the question of where we go in an independent Scotland. We must create a system which sets up a Scotland agency to create and supply power to the people of Scotland independent of any involvement of big corporate institutions. It used to work well, and could do so again. The good hard-working people who made it work are still there ready and waiting.

George M Mitchell