When I was about 6 or 7, there was a power cut at home. I remember it being pretty fun, because Mum got candles out, like we did at Halloween. Maybe part of 7-year-old me was waiting for her to get the blue food colouring and lemonade out, and make the Witches Brew we had at Halloween too!
My youngest brother was probably about 4, so this power cut was a bigger deal to him than to the rest of us. I remember standing in our candlelit kitchen and him asking me, “Does that mean we can’t turn the taps on?”
As anyone else who grew up in the 90s will testify, the only response to this kind of dumbass question was – “Durrrrrrr! Of course we can, taps aren’t electric!”
This was obviously one of the first times I learnt how good it feels to be right about something (ha!…) seeing as I remember it so clearly!
But do you know what I learnt this week? Turns out, I was kind of wrong.
Did anyone else watch Blackout on Monday? It was 9pm on Channel 4. It was a documentary-style drama, filmed as if on cameraphones and home video recorders, about what would happen if the whole of the National Grid went down. For a week. No electricity. Anywhere. What would happen?
I won’t lie, I didn’t make it to the end. I got pretty freaked out after about 40 minutes and we changed the channel… But I do want to know how it ended. Because it really taught me a few things! Like about the taps – we need mains electricity to pump water. So after a while, once the back up generators go too – no water.
Mobile phone masts go eventually too. No calling anyone, even if you do have any battery left. And cash machines – you can’t get cash out. Being that annoying person who never has cash on them, that struck a chord with me.
I know it makes me sounds naive, but I genuinely learnt a lot from watching it. I’m not saying it’s going to revolutionise my way of life, and I’m going to become a self-sustainability nut like one of the characters in the programme. I do still want to grow my own veg one day, but I currently live in a first floor flat with no garden or windowledges. But it’s certainly made me appreciate just how much we depend on electricity. I’m going to be better at keeping my car filled up. And I’m definitely going to start carrying cash.