When The Light Doesn’t Come On

About a week ago, first thing in the morning, I opened the fridge to get the milk to make the first cup of tea of the day.

The light in the fridge didn’t come on.

My brain performed a complicated dance of thoughts and feelings:

  • “Oh no, we have so much in the fridge and freezer that will be ruined!”
  • “We’ve had it for over seven years, so of course it’s out of warranty…”
  • “Wait, it’s the weekend! Where are we going to get a new one from?”
  • “Can we save any of the food? Will my mum have room in her freezer? Can we give some to neighbours?”
  • “A new one? What am I thinking jumping to that, can we afford to just buy a fridge-freezer?!”
  • “Ugh, I’ve not even had a cup of tea!!!”

And then a quiet part of my brain whispered… Check the button.

There’s a little button that is held in place by the fridge door when it’s closed. When it’s opened it pops out and the light comes on. I touched it and it popped out and the light came on. The fridge was fine.

The button had just stuck in place for a second. That’s all. No problem. No solution needed. No cause for panic.


“Problems” sometimes aren’t really problems, but our first instinct encountering a potentially difficult situation is to panic.

In the viva, an examiner asking a tricky question might not intend it to be hard. If they say they have a different opinion, they are not trying to ruin you. If you don’t know what to say to a question, or haven’t spotted a typo previously, or just go blank, there’s no need to panic. These are all situations that you can respond to in the viva, but they might not be problems at all.

If you’re asked a question in the viva and the light doesn’t come on, stop and check: is this a problem?