A gang of workmen pitched at an electricity junction next to the Embankment in central London on Thursday night, put on safety jackets, hard hats and as the law requires, surrounded the area with ‘Danger Men Working’ signs. They then (rather cooly) broke into the substation and ripped out all the thick copper cables. It would have been hard sweaty work. They loaded all the cables into the truck, retrieved all their ‘Danger Men Working’ signs and drove off into the night.

I know all this because at around 10pm I stopped receiving the usual spam emails…in fact I stopped receiving any work emails and when I looked at our website it was down; so were the seventy other sites we manage. Oh dear.

At that same time the managers of about 25 other London Universities were having exactly the same experience. There’s a special site we check to make sure everyone’s connected to the internet on the Joint Academic Network and for the first time ever it was listing everything as ‘Down’ in bright red writing. Oops!

It was the end of the world. Armageddon.  I looked out the window and checked the news on the telly to see if World War Three had been declared. It was like someone had pulled the plug on the Internet. Thousands upon thousands of students across London suddenly not able to study or even more importantly, not access Facebook and Youtube’s funny cat videos. Looking around the University library it was like a scene from The Night of the Living Dead, students lost… trying desperately to use their phones to send emails and access non-existent teaching resources.

It was like (shock horror!) when I was at University when The. Internet. Didn’t. Exist.  I had to (OMG!) do actual research and learning from “books” and “journals”, I had to “write” things down on “paper” using a “pen” and try to “remember” it.  I know, it was a new experience for a lot of them, imagine not having Google and Wikipedia to answer any question you had…Imagine not having access to Youtube, imagine have to watch terrestrial TV, no search function, no fast forwarding, imagine being cut off from all the funny cat videos…shudders!

So, like any sensible and mature University we called in the counselling team and set them up in the library and they were inundated with students in acute withdrawal. However, on Friday morning we had to pass the word around that we wouldn’t have proper access until Monday at the earliest. This sent shock waves through the community. We managed to get some limited access by routing our connections through Wales of all places so if the internet connection smelled of sheep and went baaaaaa occasionally then this was the reason. Additionally, google would only accept sheep related queries. This would be no hardship for one for my friends as he only ever googles about good looking sheep.

I’ve no idea what the black market price for copper is these days (though I have a friend who does!) but it’s must have been worth it for the gang to take such a risk in central London. At a really busy area right beside a Tube station, on a Thursday night, kudos to them!  However, I’d like to make a suggestion to any gang of thieves thinking of swiping our copper cabling again. There are easier things to steal and there’s no having to get messy doing it, just ramraid your local supermarket for some of these items;

Christmas cards  – £4.50 for one card, for heaven’s sake, it’s a bit of card and an envelope, pound for pound they are more expensive than beluga caviar

Razor blades – Gillette Fusion Proglide Power Razor £15.49/unit. Yup, for one! At that price I expect it to make breakfast and do the laundry as well.

Roses – a fabulous investment opportunity, currently £30 for a dozen this week but in two months time, around Valentines Day the price skyrockets to £100 for a dozen. More than triple your money.

ANY Apple product. Massively overpriced. Apple made $8.8billion profit in the last quarter, that’s roughly $30billion in a year. To any thieves out there, if you wanna get rich then stop stealing our cables and just raid your local Apple store, it’s easier, there’s MUCH more profit plus you get an iPhone/iPad into the bargain. Win Win!