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Chasing the Rabbit and Scrabble by Candlelight…

Yesterday afternoon a collection of rude mechanicals were digging a hole at the end of my street. Shortly thereafter the lights went out all down the street. So that’s my computing up the junction for the evening! The power only came back up this morning. Shortly after the sun did. So what do you do?

Well, I’m currently on “rabbit detail” for a couple of days because my next-door neighbour is away and so is her daughter. Well, I go to see Honey the Bunny last night as the sun is setting. It’s a house rabbit with a big cage and sometimes run of the gaff. It was merely crepuscular at the time so I thought I’d give the little blighter a carrot. I open the fridge door expecting there to be light and there isn’t. I knew there was a power cut but I still did expect without thinking. Of course there was no light so I get a carrot from my house and much did he enjoy it. For all I knew next-door might have had all manner of tasty bunnyish treats but scrabbling through someone else’s fridge vegetable tray in the gloaming by touch is just not my style. Certainly not if it in anyway contains at the bottom the sort of matter* you might find in mine. Which it might have done because neighbour senior had clearly been away some time judging by the 2 and 8 her daughter had left the gaff in. So I set awhile with Bunny and gave him a stroke (and some carrot of course).

When it came time to get him back in his cage this proved tricky. It was already getting really quite dark so I herded him up his little ramp with the lid of a cardboard box and the remainder of the vegetable. This was no mean feat considering his penchant for disappearing under the dresser and the superior night vision of Leporids to Homo sapiens sapiens** but I will be buggered if I’m to be defeated by a bunny***. Hence the deployment of more carrot and some stick in the form of my parador**** act. That act completed and water changed and all that and it’s time for home. Well, my wife had got out enough candles for some light demonology but seeing as you can’t really chalk a pentagram onto carpet it was decided to play Scrabble instead. And I’d so wished to summon Ashkaroth the Cleaver of Souls and sic him on United Utilities. Scrabble by candlelight is fun – I almost set a Collins’ Concise Dictionary on fire. The last time we had a power cut I’d thought, “There’s always the TV…” only to be disappointed and feel foolish.

If there is a moral to this tale (and there is) it is not just the fact that without 230VAC modern life is impossible but about the reason why so many people seem so unconcerned about the existential threat Green and NIMBY policies represent to the future security of electricity supply. Things like computers and such are new enough that in an odd way you don’t forget they need juice***** whereas fridge lights and TV are so embedded into us as something that is always there that instinctively we find it difficult not just to get on without them but to even imagine they might stop or maybe even have not always been. Installed electrical appliances are just so taken for granted because walls humming at 50Hz are to us what walls of wattle and daub were to our ancestors.

I suppose when the last of the AGRs go offline and Drax is de-commissioned we can sit round a fire of organic goat dung and hear the tales of ancients like me about the days when the Titan Tesla stole sparks from the bosom of Mother Gaia herself… ….and there was light! But Grandad! We’ve heard that one already! Tell us about the great metal birds instead! Tell us how we reached too far and fell back to Gaia! And through toothless gums I’ll mutter under my breath (for I still almost recall how it was), “Not far enough…” and then tell the tale of when we thought we could be gods and dreamed of the stars as though they were not. That they were great nuclear furnaces instead and the kids will laugh and consider me a superstitious old fool but good for a laugh with my myths.

Welcome to the endarkenment! Coming to Germany first!

Why am I reminded of this story?

*Sometimes the only soup on the menu is the primordial stuff.
**He’s a nervous critter so I didn’t want to deploy the Maglite. I’ve known lads who went lamping.
***All humans suffer this. I think it is known as Elmer Fudd Syndrome in the literature.
****A parador is either a really posh state-run hotel in an historic building in Spain or your humble blogger making a right tit of himself chasing a small critter round a kitchen armed with a sheet of cardboard – portmanteau of “parody” and “matador”.
***** And they use batteries so you have to remember to charge them. Built in appliances are different.


  1. Kevin B says:

    And here’s me thinking that chasing the rabbit was some new perversion, (or new name for such), that I hadn’t heard of before.

    Mind you, I hope you’re right about Germany falling first. Trouble is, I can’t help thinking that, what with our wonderful Climate control act enacted by those Cnuts in Westminister, we’ll be competing with the krauts to import the froggies best nucular ‘leccy, and I’m not entirely sure who the cheese eaters will favor. (As in, I am entirely sure who they will favor. Not us.)

    Have you seen EDF’s latest ad saying they’ve got the most non-carbon juice of anyone? Yes, Electricite de France owns all our reactors as well as the stuff that crosses the channel. I wonder how many greens think they mean windmills.

  2. MarbellaBoy says:

    With the self-destructive policies that Chris Huhne is enforcing on the British power system, it is really only a matter of a few years before this will become a common experience for everyone in the country.

    When it does happen you might do very well to have one of these puppies …

  3. Nelsontouch says:

    “Nightfall” by Asimov, eh? Good call.
    When the lights go out everyone will wonder about those lights in the sky and possibly wonder why we don’t go there. Lights that don’t go out, how about that? Very tempting.
    Presumably they’ll be told by the high priests that such hubris will mean that Gaia will strike us down, as she did those poor souls in Challenger. Best stay here in the cold, shivering is good for us you know . . . . though the priests really need the light and heat, in order to see clearly to keep the climate under control . . . where would we be without them?

  4. RAB says:

    The lights go out, the room is filled with romantic candlelight, and you play Scrabble!!??

    Please say this is a euphemism? A scrabble for zips, buttons, socks and shoes, but please no, not the game by Waddingtons???

    It wouldn’t happen round this old fart’s house even. Besides I refuse to play Scrabble with my wife anymore. She cheats, she makes words up. She thinks she’s Shakespeare’s sister or something!

  5. NickM says:

    Obviously what we did later is none of your business but my wife is a linguist so… They heard of foreplay in Wales? I got “Quail” on triple-word score.

    I am manfully resisting (considering my visit to the rabbit) the urge to do the obvious joke, “Is that a carrot in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?”

    Anyway, my point is that candle-light may be romantic it isn’t on a Tuesday evening by force. The candlelit (if you were lucky) past was not romantic. The Greens may believe so but I have ideas on that score for microgravity…

    Check out a recent post by Devil’s Kitchen. Apparently climate scientists are bithcin’ at havin’ to pay “green taxes”.

    “Cnuts in Westminister”. Almost genius except Cnut pulled his cunning stunt to show what a bunch of toadying wretches his courtiers were. “We need more Cnuts and fewer Cunts!” Bang right about EDF though. A bunch of auto-erotic chocolate starfish gazing cretins if ever they existed.

  6. Ian F4 says:

    I recommend the book I am reading right now: “Power Hungry” by Robert Bryce. It gives an awesome picture of our energy dependence and how “green” technology isn’t going to make a dent in it just yet.

  7. RAB says:

    Oh well played sir!

    “Quail” as a triple word score, will tremble the knee of any linguist!

    Foreplay in Wales? I dunno Mun. We only know they’re ‘Avin an orgasm when they throw their chips in the air. :-)

    And yes, your point is well taken. I lived through the last lot of blackouts as a student in Nottingham. They were a pain in the ass, but nothing compared to what’s coming up. We still had a cash and non computerised economy back then, and could just about manage.

    Wait till everything down to the computerised corner shop till, let alone the hated Tesco’s restocking computers go out. We won’t last a fuckin week!

    And there is nothing romantic about candles and tallow, if that’s all you’ve ever known. Just as I suspect stockings and suspenders were not that erotic when they were the norm, before the invention of Tights.

  8. Roue le Jour says:

    Huh, don’t know you’re born. Blackouts are a regular occurrence here, which is why I’m keeping my toes warm on a humming UPS as I type. It can only keep the computer up for twenty minutes (first thing I tried when I got it, no, tell a lie, the first thing was rip out the damn stupid beeper. Yes I knoooow the power’s out, dummy), but can keep one of those compact fluorescents on for hours. It’s the only light in the village, spooky. Still, good for star gazing. (No, not a euphemism for sex. A euphemism for laying on your back with a home grown blunt.)

    “But cha are, Marcie, y’are stuck behind that guitar.” That Shakespeare’s Sister? Loved them. Loved them to bits.

  9. Andrew Duffin says:

    Those eco-fascists who think it would be amusing to live without electricity should try it for a month, not thirty minutes.

    Oh, and they should remember to pop down to their nearest heart surgery unit or paediatric intensive care unit, and switch if off there as well.

    Just so that we really understand.

  10. NickM says:

    “Just as I suspect stockings and suspenders were not that erotic when they were the norm, before the invention of Tights.”

    I have to disagree. Stockings etc were designed from the off to be sexy. Tights just weren’t.

    Oh, the “L” of “Quail” also made “Lee”. I was the Lionel Messi of the Scrabble board that night. Learn the allowed two letter words which include chemical symbols and US state abbreviations. Though I think I tried it on a bit far when I suggest “Gu” was the symbol for the element “Gulium”.

    You want red light for star-gazing. Harms your night vision less. Ever set-up a complicated scope, aligning the equatorial mount and all and then thought “bugger me” I can’t see a goddamn thing! Shakespeare’s Sister eh? I had quite a soft spot too. Maybe we should form a support group.

  11. Kevin B says:

    Many moons ago, when anti-nuclear agita was nearing it’s height and before CAGW had got off the ground, my stock response to the luddites was to ask them if they would rather live downwind of a three-mile island type meltdown or downwind of a major city after a week long power outage in the depths of winter. Since I live thirty miles from London and since many of EDF’s finest French reactors are lined up on the coasts of Normandy and Brittany, and given the destructive policies of cunts like Huhne and the age of said reactors, I may get a chance at both scenarios.

    I also took delight in pointing out to those bedwetters who enjoyed salmon, crab or lobster that many fish farms are sited next to our coastal reactors in order to take advantage of all that lovely warm water that gushes out from the turbines.

  12. NickM says:

    Exactly. It’s like a camping trip. It’s a trip – it’s something different. It’s a holiday which is not how you’d want to live everyday. Your point about sparks in hospitals is duly noted but almost superfluous because not for nothing is Nikola Tesla frequently referred to as the inventor of the Twentieth Century.

  13. CIngram says:

    Mrs Ingram has a soft, furry rabbit (that would sound rather more risqué in Spanish. Think Latin for an idea). He’s a slow learner but he does learn. Catching him at night to put him back in his cage is getting harder and harder but, like you and Elmer Fudd, I will not be outwitted. Not yet, anway.

    As I always say to the idiots you reference, ‘What will you do when you’re ill and the penicillin factory has been closed down?’ They assume that the things they think are important will continue to happen, by magic, or by force. But they won’t. Even violence won’t keep an economy running once you’ve killed it. (This is also true of rabbits.)

  14. NickM says:

    Mrs Ingram has a soft, furry rabbit (that would sound rather more risqué in Spanish.

    Alas Mr Ingram it sounds filthy in English too…

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