I was in Northumberland when the lights went out at home in Pimlico. Over the phone, I described what should be done about fuse switches to my son William. Still nothing. The whole street was in darkness.

 

It was an old-fashioned power cut, of the kind I remember from 1970s Cambridge (Peterhouse being on the same circuit as Addenbrooke’s Hospital, we only used our candles at dinner parties). Having written about the shakiness of Britain’s energy supply some time ago, I had bought a torch. Unfortunately, the family couldn’t find it.

 

In the way of these things, adversity brought out the best. The children survived the ordeal of not doing their homework. Neighbours visited, carrying candlesticks like Wee Willie Winkie. We know someone in EDF, the power company, who said the disruption wouldn’t last long. He was wrong.

 

Next day, the Aslet household was still unlit and unheated. An engineer was despatched: my wife was informed that if she was out when he called, we would be charged for the visit.

 

Snow lay on the ground in Northumberland. It was intensely cold but still, and the wind turbines I passed looked like sculptures. Not a blade turned. I wonder if there could be a connection.

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