We did I tell you.
For a whole hour and fifty minutes or so.
A couple of evenings ago Mike had text to say he was running late on his way home from work due to traffic. Not knowing just how late he was going to be I served the children up their dinner and turned the oven down. The children were finally finishing up their meals when suddenly the whole house was plunged into darkness.
Curse the winter with its short days.
Only the glow from my laptop remained, thanks to my leaving the battery in it while I was using it plugged into the mains. Big no-no, I’m aware. But anyway…
My first thought was that perhaps an appliance had tripped and the safety cut out had kicked in. Then I looked outside and saw… nothing.
No streetlights, no lights on in houses, just total, complete darkness. Only the tiny lights flickering across the river could be seen.
“Get the torch,” I instructed Cait.
She looked at me.
“Where is the torch?” I asked the boys. Because, of course, a power cut will only happen when the boys have been playing with the one and only torch you have in the whole house.
Of course, they didn’t know where it was.
Obviously, they didn’t know where it was because “It wasn’t me!” took it. “It wasn’t me!” does an awaful lot of things he shouldn’t do. When I get hold of this “It wasn’t me!” person… Not that I will. It seems “It wasn’t me!” hangs out with “No-one”. They’re never seen but always mentioned in this house.
Cait recalled seeing it in the playroom. Finding something you want in the playroom when you have full visibility is nigh on impossible. Finding it in pure darkness is just – impossible.
She took the phone with her to try and light her way and called out triumphantly, “I’ve found it!”.
“You boys should never, ever touch this torch again!”
Cue the chorus of, “It wasn’t me! It was…”
Yeah, yeah, I know.
It wasn’t you.
At least we had the torch. A useful, battery-less, wind-up torch. Which though lit up all the time you wound it, would stop the second you stopped. Cait had the task of winding it… constantly.
“Everyone stay seated around the table,” I instructed, “The last thing we need is for you all to be trying to run and jump about in the darkness. There’s bound to be an accident and we don’t need that right now!”. The last words came out staccato as I rushed to the back door to lock it.
We heard the front door open.
“Is that dad?” I asked Cait.
“Yes” she replied, still winding the torch and trying to direct it in the direction of the kitchen table, where several small boys were wriggling and wiggling in their seats, one chattering incessently and another was trying desperately not to seem afraid.
“How do you know it’s dad if you can’t see him?” I hissed, “You’re two rooms away with your back to the door and you’re shining the torch in the opposite direction!”.
Clearly, I’m great at being a pillar of strength and reassurance which I’m certain helped the frightened boy immensely.
“Mike, is that you?” I called quietly.
Thankfully, it was *rolls eyes*.
“We had a box of candles. A big box. Where is it?” he asked.
“I don’t know,”
I’m helpful as well as reassuring.
“We bought them years ago!” I exclaimed.
“Yes, from Ikea wasn’t it?”
Oh goodness. A trip down memory lane. Is this really the time to reminisce about where we bought a job lot of candles about 12 years and four house moves ago?
“We should have got some candles from Chris.” said Cait.
Chris, Paddy and Oliver’s godmother, who mistakenly ordered birthday candles by the hundred instead of the dozen or so she thought she’d ordered.
Mike pulled the St Joseph candle down.
“I’m sure St Joseph won’t mind.”
After several attempts he managed to light three small church candles and St Joseph. I carefully took them in the kitchen to cries of “It’s a birthday!” from Paddy, and carefully positioned them in the middle of the kitchen table.
I dislike fire and flames. I worry and fear the worst. Add naked flames to a room with small, fidgety boys that seem to lack willpower to keep still and I’m a nervous wreck under my cool demeanour. (!)
“Now, nobody move,” I told them, “Don’t go near the candles, don’t try and touch the candles and don’t try to blow the candles out!”.
Again, staccato. The situation called for it.
Want to guess how many of the boys tried to blow the candles out?
I served up dinner for Mike and myself, and as he sat down to eat came the wail, slowly at first then gaining volume.
Sid couldn’t be brave any longer.
“I don’t like the dark,” he cried, “When is the electricity coming back on?!”
He’d asked that question four hundred and thirty two times so far.
“Soon, I’m sure,” Mike told him, “Let’s just imagine we’re Amish!” he suggested cheerfully, trying to cajole Sid out of his fear and worry.
We all talked about how the Amish lived without electricity all the time. How they worked and how they lived away from the outside world, just like we were doing. How they lit oil lamps or candles for light, just like our candles. We talked about what we thought they did on dark evenings. And then I set up a quilt on the floor at the opposite end of the kitchen to the candles, where the boys changed into their pyjamas and sat in a circle with Cait, and sang songs while pretending they were camping. They were
not always in tune.
In the meantime, Mike headed out to the town to find buy some torches and wind-up lamps, and I set to work clearing the table of plates and cutlery, stopping every now and then to peel bits and pieces of dropped spaghetti from the bottom of my foot.
As I cleared up I dreamed the dream of living simply. It’s an ideal existence for my reclusive nature. I was contentedly floating away in my imaginary Amish world, when with a flicker the lights came back on and the appliances jolted back to life, filling the house with the familiar hum we normally don’t notice.
And as I loaded the dishwasher, thought about loading the nappies in the washing machine, and wondered what I’d missed on Facebook, I thought to myself how I could totally live the Amish life with ease.