Saturday night. We had just finished dinner and were preparing to plonk ourselves in front of the telly with a cup of tea, when we were suddenly plunged into darkness.
A power cut. A rarity in these parts. In all the years we’ve lived here, you could count the number of power cuts we’ve had on the fingers of one hand. And still have three fingers spare.
Using the torch that I always keep handy in the study, we dug some candles out from the back of the kitchen drawer and soon the house was bathed in a warm, flickering, yellow glow.
I popped outside and looked up and down the street. The whole estate was in total darkness. Eerie shadows fluttered behind windows as people wandered about inside their homes with torches and the sky was an inky black, peppered with stars that shone clear and bright now that there were no street lamps to diffuse their celestial glow.
And it was fucking cold.
Back indoors, Mrs M had lit the gas fire and the living room was warm and cosy. “I’m just going to pop over to Karen and Frank’s”, I said, “just to check they’re alright for candles and stuff.” Our neighbours – it turned out – were indeed short of candles and so I popped a couple over. Chatting to them, it transpired that with the electric being off, they also had no heating. However, they did have a gas cooker whereas Chez Masher was all electric in that department.
And so we decided that, as we had no idea when the power would return, we would boil up some water and put it in a flask so we could have hot drinks, then all go over to my house to keep warm. And sing songs around the fire. It was this sort of spirit that saw our grandparents through the war and we were going to show that two generations on, we still had that bulldog spirit in us; that grim determination to fight on through adversity and the courage and derring do to ensure our continued survival.
And then, just thirty-five minutes after it had gone off, the power came back on.
Not to be robbed of our chance for some British stiff-upper-lippedness though, we decided to carry on with our plans. Abandoning the flasks in favour of tins of Fosters and bottles of Jack Daniels, we sat and told stories (gossip) to each other, nibbling at our rations (pretzels and nuts), as the muted horror of the blitzkrieg played in the background (MTV).
We all survived the night, but the carnage next day had to be seen to be believed.