Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

WE Sit in the Chill [...]; COLUMNIST

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

WE Sit in the Chill [...]; COLUMNIST

Article excerpt


WE sit in the chill, gathering gloom that inevitably follows a Conservative Chancellor's Budget speech. A one-eyed pensioner and his wideeyed wife experiencing what life is like in the first moments after our Northern Powerhouse has been plunged into darkness, perhaps prophetically, by a Northern Powercut.

The lights are all out. A threebar heater ("for those damp summer evenings") has gone dark. The fridge-freezer has shuddered to a halt. An ensemble of pings and tweets from appliances around the house bring the curtain down on our evening in front of the telly.

Squeezing the last ounce of power from my mobile phone I call Ian Two-Jobs, the farmer-electrician in Branxton, and begin a beg of Biblical proportions.

"Lighten our darkness we beseech Thee, O lecky," I implore him. He is touched; he MUST be. It is past ten at night yet, following a long, fraught working day split between working in the fields and fault-fixing, he is still willing to make a house call.

After an hour and two nips (the size of which would see a driver banned north of the border) a weak, flickering light is restored to the living room. "No appliances," orders Two-Jobs sternly. "And if you put a light on in the lavvy you'll lose the light in the lounge. There's a reduced supply coming in from outside, it's a job for Scottish Power."

I have not long waved goodbye to the local lecky and the last of my whisky when the S-Power Five arrive, all head torches, safety helmets and high-vis jackets in a van with flashing yellow warning lights.

They are, they explain, the emergency team. Satisfied that all is safe and that we are happy to sit out the night with reduced lighting and no appliances they summon a full crew to be on deck at first light and depart. But not before pointing to our splendid, fresh-as-paint British Telecom telegraph pole and asking: "Is that new? It could be the cause of the problem."

New readers (joining at the rate of fifty per week!) may be unaware of the significance of BT's dramatic entrance at this point in the narrative; staunch readers (heads in hands, leaving at an identical rate) should show patience while I update the newbies. …

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