I grew up in Southland which is the land at the bottom of Te Wai Pounamu (The South Island). We lived, not in the picturesque mountains or bushland, but on the cultivated plains where the wind and rain come directly from Antarctica. Each winter we would have a storms, that somewhere far away, would topple a power pole and leave great swathes of our community in the dark. As a kid this was fun. Candles were sought until Dad could fire up the tilly lamp which would then sit hissing in the middle of the room. We were warm by the fire, laughing and playing cards. If the outage lasted until the morning, the little gas stove was set up in the garage.
But we grow up and into the world around us, which if you haven’t taken a good look recently, is a world powered by electricity (See “I am not Joe Donovan” makes it to Kindle. ) A few days ago we heard from our neighbour that sometime during the night his switchboard had quite literally blown up. He works “in computers” and some of this mysterious work is done at home so I can’t imagine him taking kindly to an electrical blowout. It turns out he didn’t because first thing next morning, his driveway was full of Orion vans and men wanding around with frowns and cellphones stuck to their ears. By lunchtime it turned out digging was to be done and we were part of the plan. But we have power! It turned out that we are the last property on the underground line and we were an essential part of the remedy. So we parked the car out on the street and let them get on, and on, and on with it. Darkness fell and instead of going home, these men turned on the lights of their vans and carried on. Inside our warm, illuminated house, we ate our tea. Keith went to check the progress of the repairs, returning with the news that we were going to lose electricity at 7:30. At exactly 7:15 when Hillary was about to explain what out-of-date products we didn’t have to throw away; we were plunged into darkness. And boy was it was exciting. Until I’d finished reading the end of the novel on my kindle and realized I couldn’t download another and needed a torch to read a book. I also couldn’t watch netflix and was not prepared to use all my phone data aimlessly cruising the internet. So I did what any sensible urban dweller would do. I went out and said, You do know this is Nigella week? One guy looked like I’d invented a new word but the sensible one in the trench said, Yeah, but it’s only the first rounds, as he kept on digging. I was over it by 9. I gave up and got ready for bed. Within minutes of me pulling back the duvet, the fridge and the freezer and the dishwasher burst into life and all the wasteful, wonderful lights in the house, came on. The internet took a bit longer but by golly it was great to once again feel connected to the world, even if it’s only bonding over our mutual admiration for ne I will have to continue using the sniff and taste test on all my out of date pantry products and I will never know why the tall, skinny one with the black hair got sent home from Australian Masterchef, but I don’t care. I get to flick light switches on and off and I am more than happy about that.