A former headmaster colleague of mine chose not to have electricity in parts of his house because he liked to read by candlelight. That he also sported an unapologetic brace of mutton-chop whiskers and didn’t look complete without a three-piece suit and a watch fob gives you a further clue as to his natural historical habitat. I was thinking about him as I was congratulating myself on being one of the diminishing club of people who have a paper copy of The Guardian as I was reading by candlelight on Wednesday evening in the sixth hour of the power cut that disrupted things, causing us to cancel the visit of our Jaw speaker from the Quilliam Foundation and the BAC drama performance that I had been looking forward to, having seen them in action in rehearsal.
Interesting, and probably healthy for any community to have to deal with these eventualities, we have to adapt and we also are reminded of how enriched and full the evenings normally are here, when we have to cancel things. Our generator can only do so much so we have to choose which buildings to power at various times and not deploy the most power hungry devices – like our beast of a dishwasher. But people generally kept calm and carried on.
Although my aim at this time of year is to avoid premature celebration of Christmas, festive puddings need to be made and Wednesday evening was the allotted time for the annual Christmas pudding bake. It looked as if it would have to be shelved, with obvious dire consequences; so imagine how relieved and delighted I was when, Moony and I, walking towards the Barnyard around eightish saw the lights in the Bakery lit up. A dozen 6.2s had warmed to the task – a little electricity, a number of candles and much human endeavour were being deployed and the puddings were close to complete.
The adjective ‘Dickensian’ is over-used – and often in a rather nebulous, pejorative way, but this was Dickensian in the positive sense: warm, convivial, properly festive and celebratory of the good things that happen when people work in a wholehearted way together, in spite of circumstances.