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A power cut on a dark and stormy night has Rab praying ‘Let there be leccy’…

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We had a couple of power cuts one evening recently. Oh, the panic! How could it possibly be so dark? I looked out the window to check it wasn’t just my house and, sure enough, all the other houses’ lights were out too. With no Moon, it was as dark as a coal cellar.

The first thing I had to do was find a source of light. I keep a torch on a windowsill beside the back door. It’s always there. Except now, of course, it wasn’t. Then my hand knocked something to the ground, but it didn’t feel like the torch. Later, it turned out it was the torch. As usual, life was ‘tormenting me.

Plan B was to find matches and candles. I knew where some tea-light candles were and then, belatedly, remembered my little battery-operated ones that change colour. However, these give off little light. At last, I found the matches.

I set out tea-lights in all the rooms and lit them, at which moment the power came back on. That was mercifully brief, I thought. So I blew out all the candles. And the power went back off again.

I should explain that it was a stormy night, and I guess the gusts must have been shoogling the doo-dahs. I can put it no more scientifically than that. Luckily, the second power cut was also brief but, 40 miles up the road, the outage lasted well into the following day.

This would have serious repercussions for some people, particularly those remote working. Our local MP was due to speak remotely at an important event in Parliament, but was unable to do so.

As a remote worker myself, with daily deadlines, and reliant on email and the internet, I’d be in a right pickle. It’s happened before, and I was able to use the unaffected local college or public library. But these are closed just now.

I reckoned my only hope would be to see if a mobile phone connection was working, and maybe type out an article on my phone. As my texting rate is about two words an hour, my deadline would probably have passed before I’d finished typing “This week, in bombshell news I can reveal …”.

After these last cuts, I considered getting a small back-up generator but couldn’t afford it. I did, however, order some battery-operated candles, to avoid faffing about with matches. However, I decided to get in more of the latter too. Unfortunately, our supermarket is the sort of place where you decide you need some ketchup and find it doesn’t have any. Needless to say, no matches. Or, if there were, I couldn’t find them (I have as much luck finding things in shops as I do in the house).

I’d really like to be prepared next time. The last long power cut here was during the day, and it was deeply disturbing. In the electronic age, I felt cut off from the world. I didn’t (don’t) have an alternative source of heating (gas but with electric controls), so it was cold, bleak and vaguely upsetting.

Shows how much we depend on the old leccy. It’s probably good to be reminded of this from time to time. But, in the meantime, as the Good Book nearly said: Let there be leccy.

More in this series:

Rab’s new ‘toy’ comes with all the tools anyone needs but still can’t conquer self-assembly kits

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