It was a dark and stormy night

Last night was most peculiar. The Met. Office was promising Apocalypse Now, and the Professor, who had not one but two dates in Edinburgh, was none too happy about it. There was supposed to be torrential rains and gale force winds … I spent the afternoon’s teaching glancing apprehensively out of the window periodically to check for torrential rain; none seemed to be ensuing. But by the time I was standing at a bus stop at quarter to six, the wind was eddying along the pavement, whipping the leaves into mini tornadoes, and the garden trees were visibly bending. The country bus is a stout operation, neither rain nor snow nor gloom of night doth keep the 305 from its occasions. It was even on time, though one could hear the wind screeching around it all the way. I got off into the pitch dark; and staggered; the wind was almost enough to knock you off your feet. It was quite warm, but there was a feeling almost of being under water, susceptible to currents. I got half way down the track with my tiny Maglite in good style, when between one moment and the next, the temperature dropped about ten degrees and it began to sleet. Horizontally. Within moments, a pair of headlights loomed up behind me; quite adventitiously, Miss T’s Dad had nipped out to fill the car with petrol, and there he was, like a guardian angel. He took me home, where the Quiet American had been looking after the animals for the previous twelve hours. Fifteen minutes later, as I was beginning to make our dinner, the electricity went out. It became clear, after another fifteen minutes or so, that there was no immediate prospects of its resurrection, so we had a frugal supper off cold meat, a salad, bread; not absolutely my ideal dins after the aforementioned horizontal sleet, but welcome. Then what? Well, we opened another bottle of wine, and sat in an eighteenth-century fashion at my round eighteenth-century Irish mahogany kitchen table, in the light of a girandole pilfered from the dining room, and drank, and talked. The Professor made it back as far as Aberdeen, about two and a half hours late, following an episode when the train had been inching through flood water up to its axles and other excitements, and took my advice to stay there rather than try and take our small, light and un-powerful car through the adventures the bus had experienced … thus he stayed with kind and forbearing friends, and the Quiet American and I, having ceased to worry about him, sat at our ease, with nothing whatever to do due to complete absence of electricity, and made our own entertainment. In retrospect, the combination of the howling wind, the pitch dark, the candles, the proximity of another bottle, and the absence of alternatives, began, one felt, to explain quite a lot about early modern elite theories of how to get through the winter. After a while we took our separate little candles and trotted off to bed to listen to the wind some more, and in a mad sort of way, the evening was really quite nice. The bit which really hurt was the following morning, when we were up at 7 in the interests of the QA catching a bus so as to make a 10 o’clock class, and since we were still without electricity, we were forced to start our little day at that unconscionable hour on nothing more stimulating than fruit juice … when the electricity came back towards nine, I fell upon my first cup of tea of the day, something which normally follows waking within minutes, as if it was the nectar of the gods. Seldom have I enjoyed a cuppa so thoroughly.

One Response to “It was a dark and stormy night”

  1. will Says:

    I’m surprised you haven’t yet been taxed for your enjoyment. What next, a candle tax due to much sootiness creating tornadoes (or, going back some, rather good tomatoes this year ,according to our ancient allotment)? We have a few lamps, some of which are ‘green’; even a heating system which, let’s face it, when we ever get home to enjoy, is rarely on. We have a knackered old Geogian town house with a hole in the roof which, potentially, could be leaking out heat when it’s not letting in water.. an old Range Rover, which, when its not doing its duty is ready for a 5k a year hike in tax.. A few old (but bloody good) paintings which, surely, by default, must be leaking lead into the atmosphere. Hey, are you sure about that maglite? It is AMERICAN, after all…

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