The lights go, darkness descends as the primeval wind whips round the house and the sleet bashes down on the windows. English weather, for which our houses are not prepared. Built over a hundred years ago, with the earliest factory made brick at the end of the Victorian era, my house is starting to crumble. It bakes in summer, it freezes in winter. The Victorians liked houses that “breathed” to prevent tuberculosis. My house hyperventilates as the wind whips through its single thickness and now crumbling brick and the air vents under the floor boards go in to howling overtime. In theory it has double glazing put in by the farmer who owned it in the 60’s. This is a moss sodden infill in the gaps between the pains that are so fugged up it is difficult to tell if it is foggy or misty. Even better, where the windows are inserted into the brick work are large gaps through which air rushes. Curtains cover the outside walls as insulation. The British way. I had to explain to some keen Americans who stayed over New Year that if they felt cold during the day, in their smart cashmere jumpers, they should layer up and wear two jumpers, like the rest of us. The heating does not go on until 4.30 pm and even that is a luxury. Instead we burn things. A stove in the kitchen and two other fires. But when the lights go and electricity fails, so does our heating. And with the wind whipping all heat out of the house we have to huddle by the wood burning stove in the kitchen. Very primitive. And for those who think it is romantic, and back to basics, GET REAL. Should you really spend all your time in keeping warm, foraging for wood and cooking food in the dark? Luckily a gas stove does not freeze, not yet anyway.
The dark seeps into our souls. And it is only 5.30. Mum is visiting her lover in Essex so we have no access to the convenient Bungalow. What do we do in the dark? The mind boggles at the freedom, but we have been married for over 23 years, and have 4 children already. It is too dark to read, and it is this hardship that is far worse than no TV. Conversation is in order, but with 3g my husband claims he is still working on his iphone. Rubbish, he is just in denial about rewiring the house. So I chop vegetables in the dark and pour cider over the chicken and vegetables in a green pot on the stove. God knows what it looks like, the candles are too shadowy. Scrabble for later I suppose……. to be beaten and mildly bored at the same time seems an unfair fate. Maybe sex is the better option after all. Who knows.