Okay, the jailbreak technique isn't working. I'd been putting all my previous days of frustration with the electrics into the nail filing, but clearly don't possess enough annoyance to make an adequate dent in the steel pipes.
We decided today to go with Diagram Drawing Electrician's idea of using an angle grinder tool to slice at the base of each steel pipe (whilst being careful not to cut through the wires). Thanks to a neighbour and their many extension cords, here is USgal with the angle grinder at work. Sparks and noise, the sign of hard work at work, as you can see. She found the entire process exhilarating.
Next tool - The Dremel, here at work on the main steel pipe (referred to by both electricians, as "The Puppy", for this is the one that connects to the outside electricity supply) :
The mysterious Dremel that USgal has been going on about since I arrived. The name of a brand of tool I learned today. Here is our attempt to use the Dremel to slice down the hide of steel. A laborious process, but our shoulder joints are glad for it.
By the way, does this look like five metres to you?
It is, according to the packaging for this extension cord. An alien five metres perhaps. Five metres, maybe, if you had to imagine what five metres looked like.
UPDATE: as of 7.38pm, I have managed to cut through the bases of all of the steel pipes (bar the 5th and 6th, which don't have any connectors anyway). This feels good.