Thursday, 17 February 2011
Going Back To The Simple Life - Depends What You Mean . .
Two of my favourite bloggers, Robert, The Solitary Walker and George at Transit Notes have recently written beautifully about remembering what is really important in life, the joys and pleasures of living a simple life. Whilst I whole-heartedly agree with everything they say, I was reminded just the other day that 'The Simple Life' needs further definition.
We were without electricity for a day and night and the mere fact of knowing that we were powerless (no pun intended) to do anything about it threw us into a strange confusion. When the lights went off at 11.30 at night Beloved was in the shower and I was reading. The sudden transition from what we take for granted, i.e. 'normal life' to pre-industrial age darkness is most discomposing. One really has to make a conscious effort to gather one's wits, before the hunt for torches and candles can begin. There is an immediate feeling of injury, after all, we are 'entitled' to the supply of electricity, 'how dare they cut us off'. Trying to find an explanation for this phenomenon comes next, in our case without success. We went to bed, hoping to wake up to an orderly world, plentiful hot water, light and warmth.
In vain, still no power. Not even the landline telephone worked. Using a mobile phone to ring the power company causes problems, but these can be overcome. You are assured "Madame, we will do everything in our power to trace the fault". Luckily, the Aga works on gas and there is a fire in the sitting room. I can heat a pan of water for tea and kitchen and sitting room are warm, the rest of the house turns into a fridge. Which reminds me, fridge and freezers have been warming up steadily overnight. My freezers are stuffed with garden fruit and vegetables and home-cooked, ready meals, as well as raw food.
"Madame, if you lose the contents of your freezers you will be entitled to compensation".
Compensation? What's the good of that? I do not want to lose the fruits of my labours, my delicious, home-cooked dishes, my garden produce.
The sense of dislocation, injustice and injury grows.
The day progresses, little gets done, we are engulfed by a strange sense of lethargy. The men are digging a hole in the village square. "Sorry, Madame, we are as yet unable to locate the fault". Four other houses are involved. We commiserate with each other and stand around in the square, shivering in the drizzle, willing the men to find the cause of our misery.
When darkness falls, candles are lit. I adore candlelight. When candles are the only source of light, that pleasure dims. Disconsolately, we sit in the sitting room, nursing a glass of wine and our grievance, paralysed, hopeless, keeping the dog from moving about in case he knocks over a candle and sets the house on fire.
You probably think 'what a pair of wimps', but when the TV stand-by click sounded we were suddenly electrified ourselves, jumped up, rushed to freezers and light switches all over the house, blew out the candles, re-set the boiler to get the hot water supply re-started and tested the radiators.
Civilisation restored, the relief is great.
The simple life is all very well, but as I said at the beginning: "It all depends on what you mean".