Sunday, 1 November 2009
Powercut . . .
Only during a lengthy powercut on a dark torrentially-raining late Autumn morning do you have any idea of what life was like here in the days before electricity, which never arrived here until the 1950s or thereabouts. About the same time as the phone in fact.
The kitchen is so dark that I can barely see the far wall. Only the light of 4 candles illuminating the immediate area surrounding my notebook allows me to see what I am writing. The candles throw a little echo of light onto the copper pans on the Hergom stove and highlight any uneven-ness on the copper frying pan hanging on the wall above the bressamer beam, giving it a lopsided grinning face.
(Above photo taken in normal daylight plus electric lights, but without a flash on the camera.)
The room is silent, bar the purring of cats, who are glad to be inside on such a beastly day, and the incessant heavy rain falling like stair-rods outside, pounding on the outhouse roof and dripping without pause from the winter-flowering clematis which seeks to extend its range across the kitchen window.
I was lucky enough to get my early morning cup of Earl Grey before the power went, finally, after a couple of hiccoughing warnings. Now it is too dark to see anything. The hand that automatically reached to turn on Radio 4 for company has beenstilled. Breakfast has been eaten. Dishes left to drain overnight put away. One of the two candle-lamps in the hall has been lit so we can see to phone the electricity company.
How on earth were chores managed pre-electricity in such a gloomy house? You cannot see to clean, to dust and laying a fire in the sitting room would be done by touch, as if blindfolded. A washing tub and a posser would while away an hour or so, but the eventual cleanliness would be an act of faith. Breadmaking would be possible and anything in the sink, which now has a window over it, but only for the past 30 years. The range, once lit, would brighten up the inglenook, but cobwebs in corners would never have seen light of day except on the brightest summer afternoon.
I can only assume that there were many many oil lamps, some of them overhead ones, and many candles employed because without them you can barely see your hand in front of your face!
A wee bitty wet outside - and flooding locally. We couldn't get out down the hill as the river was across the road . . .