Power in the Darkness (object 21)

The object of this post isn’t the wine bottle, which is just there to indicate size, but the object to the right of it. I’m very glad to say this isn’t made of ivory, although it is about the same size, shape and colour as a small elephant’s tusk. It’s a candle.
In my previous post I mentioned the power cuts of the 1970s. This was the period in 1973-74 when the coal miners’ unions were on strike and oil prices had increased, leading to fuel shortages and drastic measures to save electricity, including national power outages. My Dad was an aircraft  maintenance engineer at Heathrow Airport and shop steward for the AUEW (Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers) at that time, and I remember the discussions we had about the threatened 3-day working week (“It would be nice to have you home more Dad, but we wouldn’t have enough money”). Like most households we stocked up on candles and matches for the long cold dark evenings, but Dad and his workmates went a step further, making candles like this one at the workshop out of engineering wax. It turned up when we were clearing the house and brought back memories of that special time.
Many of us who were kids then have fond memories of the power cuts as a time of fun and excitement. I think my parents made a special effort to make it seem like an adventure. We were ok for meals as we had a gas cooker, and a gas fire in the living room. But when everything went dark and the TV was off in the evening, out would come the old Primus paraffin camping stove and Mum would make us cocoa or mocha in the living room, as if we were camping out. We would read Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories aloud by candlelight until it was time for bed.  We were drawn together as a family in a way that we would not normally be, when we watched TV or I read books alone in my room.  Every time I drink mocha now I am transported back to that winter and a feeling of excitement, combined with cosiness and security. A happy home.
Many thanks to Milton Grubert for the above photograph.
Leave me a comment if you get the 1970s reference in the title of this post!


About Hoarder of Babylon

A chartered librarian and curator of my family archives.
This entry was posted in 1970s, Dad, Parents. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Power in the Darkness (object 21)

  1. Lisa Randall says:

    TRB a very underrated band. Memories of listning to this at high volumes before watchin Grange Hill!….And then came Thatcher!

  2. Well done Lisa you win the mystery prize! Tom Robinson Band, I loved them too. Happy times.

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