I have a big report to get out this week. A Big Report. The first draft is all done, and I think, on the whole, it's ok, but it does need proof reading and editing and tidying up before it goes in the post on Thursday.
So, I decided to stay in the office this evening and go through it with my favourite editing pink pen so that tomorrow it can be assembled (I do so hate all that appendix and divider shit that crops up just when you think you've finished). I made a nice strong cuppa, I put on my Emergency Cardigan (the heating goes off and 6pm, and by five past you can see your breath), and settled myself in.
Then the power went off. The lights went off. The printer stopped mid print. All the computers went off apart from mine; the only laptop in the place, leaving three people blinking at one another in a dull blue gloom.
A voice came across the room, "email Hannah" (our secretary). Another voice said, "what's Hannah going to do about it?" "It means we'll have a note of the time when everything went off." I looked at my watch. "It's six thirty." There was a pause from one quarter and a snigger from another. "I think you should email her anyway."
So I wrote an email to Hannah (sometimes it's easier to do a pointless thing than explain why it's pointless) and pressed send. It went nowhere. "It won't go if there's no power." "But that's a laptop." "Yes, but the server's gone off hasn't it." "Your computer's wireless." "I don't think that matters if it's connected wirelessly to something that's off." There was another pause. Another snigger. We all decided to leave.
So on the way home, I was thinking about electricity. I don't mean in a physics teacher way. I'm not going to start talking to you about alternating currents and wattage. Largely because I don't understand those things. If it has an "on" switch, I expect it to turn on. But, in a slightly over dramatic way, I was wondering where we'd be without it. What if Messrs Ampere and Watt were passionate about textiles instead of current flow? Where would we be?
Well, for a start, you wouldn't be reading this. I mean, I know that I could write with a pen and ink on paper (oh, how quaint!) but how would the word get to you all? I'd have to copy out and post my inane chatter to you every day, which would be dull for all concerned.
In any event, I wouldn't have the time. If there were enough steam engines to get me back to south London, obviously that would be a help, but otherwise I'd be walking the seven miles home, then have to lay a fire to boil the kettle for my dinner, then wash my clothes in a pan with some bicarb. And of course I'd be doing that in candle light, which would mean that my poor eyes wouldn't be able to see to write to you at all.
And my chocolate wouldn't be chilled.
And I wouldn't be typing this whilst watching Eastenders on the telly.
And I wouldn't be able to talk on the phone.
And I wouldn't be able to charge my ipod.
And the clock radio wouldn't go off in the morning.
And the hot water would come out cold.
And I'd be cold (because my fire would have gone out by now).
And ... and ... and ...!
Oh WOE WOE!
So, have encountered about three minutes of powerlessness this evening, I am now feeling a vast gratitude towards Mr Faraday and Mr Edison and Mr Graham-Bell (or was Graham a middle name?) and all of their clever 'lectric friends. For it is they who made the great "on" switch of life work for us all.
I'm off to put the kettle on.
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