Happy to get out of the torrential rain that has fallen in the last 24 hours, I fumble in the dark for the light switch near the front door. Nothing. Nada. I curse, thinking another light bulb has gone. I move into the living room & find the switch. Ditto. A sudden dispiriting realisation hits. Power cut. Electricity gone. I head back out & ask a near neighbour, whose lights are on, what the situation is. He & his wife quickly explain that a local sub station has been affected, presumably by the deluge. Estimated time of a return to normality: two & a half hours. Would I like tea or coffee? In their living room are three other neighbours, two elderly, one with a young child, whose power has also gone awol. After nearly an hour of welcome & warming hospitality, we get the word that the electricity has been restored. We thank our hosts sincerely for their help & food before making our way back. I return home. A switch is flicked & suddenly the mundane act of lighting a house assumes reassuring meaning. Thomas Edison briefly occupies my thoughts.
Then I think of something else: the real meaning of that overused phrase, community spirit.