January 2008: Power cuts

Strange weather we are having at the moment, isn’t it? One day it is warmer than a bad summer’s day and the next, the wind is howling around our ears between the snow showers. Well, you might as well get used to it. It’s all part of the global warming warning signs. Here in Ireland, we like to think we’re taking care of such things.

And in a token gesture to help in the fight against global warming, we elected a few Greens into government. Now that is really going to help to save the world. John Gormley can’t even get away with a ban on that energy guzzler that is the ordinary decent light bulb without the EU blowing a fuse. Interfering with international competition, they said. So much so for poor John’s efforts to reintroduce the fireside as a main source of light into Irish homesteads.

Which reminds me that we had a power cut this week amid all this freak weather, and we then had to rely on that old-fashioned fire as a source of light and heat. Mind you, in my opinion, more frequent, even planned, power cuts might not be such a bad thing. I was thinking this as I lay in bed at the ungodly hour of half past nine that night, watching the shadows dancing, Lionel Ritchie-like, on the ceiling.

There should be at least one power-cut every week, preferably in the evening time. We would soon get used to it and have our candles ready, the kids fed and tucked up in bed and the silky nightwear ready for a bit of how’s your father under the blankets. You wouldn’t even miss the electric blanket then as you made your own electricity and put the spark back into your love life. And your loved one would really know you still hold a torch for them.

Of course, the October birth rate should be watched closely this year to monitor the effects of such power-cuts as this week’s before we decide to make it a regular and planned thing. People will have to show a degree of discipline in these delicate matters if we do not want a population explosion, or else Ireland will end up as populated as an American election primate.

Another great thing would be that we could rediscover our family. We might finally find out how many kids we actually have living under our roof, what their interests really are, how they are getting on at school or even to school and where they would like to go on holidays in five years time.

We could sit around the fire, holding our flashlights and candles and make conversation with each other. We could toast marshmallows and reminisce about the good old days when we were young and didn’t have television (everybody knows that old people talk about the times before we had television in Ireland, just as their parents talked about the times before Ireland had electricity.) Or we could huddle around in our overcoats because we “don’t do the fire thing”, and moan about having no television to watch and no microwave to cook popcorn in.

It’s all down to our attitude really. And we could think of our sacrifice as being for the greater good. For the sake of saving the world from “global warming”, these power-cuts would be a start. But they would only work if the rest of Europe and the world follow our lead, which they are unlikely to do.  So maybe we should just embrace this “global warming” thing.

After all, I don’t know that “global warming” will really be a bad thing for this little island of ours when I think about it. They say that, in the not too distant future, Ireland will have hotter summers and colder winters due to imminent climate change. I, for one, could get used to that great golden orb beating onto my head from a cloudless, blue sky. We could be growing bananas in our backyards instead of worrying about potato blight.

We could be spending our summers on Irish beaches instead of heading to another small island off the coast of Africa. We could call ourselves the Golden Isle instead of the Emerald Isle, considering we would not have much green grass any more.

And we would get rid of our reputation as bog men because all the bogs would dry up and disappear. Instead, we would become as well known for our dark, sallow skin and sultry looks, and rival the Italians and the Spanish in that department.

Of course all this will only happen if we can weather the storm, as it were, and not get too worried about global warming and the like. And putting up with the odd power cut in the meantime is a small price to pay. After all, when the sun does rise over this island, we will be able to generate our electricity from solar energy and there will never be another power cut again.

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