Energy crisis: If Liz Truss says there'll be no power cuts, it's time to prepare, 1970s style – Susan Morrison
The Prime Minister says there won't be any power cuts. I immediately went to Poundstretchland to stock up on candles.
Clearly I am not alone. The shelves were scant. There were some scented ones, but they tend to make the place whiff like a dodgy bordello in Tangier. I imagine.
Quite the sneaky comeback the humble candle has made. They used to light our world after dark. Admittedly they had some help from whale oil lamps, but they seriously stank the joint out, as did tallow candles, so wax was the choice for the posh folk.
Any leftover bits of these candles, incidentally, were free to be taken by the servants the next day, who could sell them on to be reused or remoulded. It was a profitable little side line.
This enterprising recycling wasn’t stealing. It was a perquisite, or ‘perk’, as we’d call it, of the job. In fact, in the early 1700s, a footman working for Queen Anne used to gather up the ends of the huge number of candles used at court and flog them on.
His name was William Fortnum and he went into business with another bloke called Mason. Fortnum and Mason are still trading to this day, supplying high-end goodies to the royal household. They should get a discount since they helped them get started.
By the middle of the last century, however, this basic had been relegated to wee coloured bits of wax dripping on birthday cakes, ghostly flickering in churches, and the punchline of an incredibly funny Two Ronnies sketch. Go YouTube it, youngsters. Classic comedy. You might need to ask an oldie to explain what sort of shop little Ronnie Barker walks into.
By the 70s we had candles again. There was a bit of a vogue for candlesticks, usually Swedish-looking and from Habitat. Mum bought a pair. We had those tall dinner candles in them. They came in handy when the power really did get cut by Edward Heath as he lost his battle with the miners.
These days, according to interior design magazines, no living room is complete without candle glow, particularly the tea light. It must be true, because no-one has ever managed to walk out of Ikea without clutching a massive bag of them. Someone must be burning them.
You can get pillars, church and jar candles so big they need three wicks and can probably double up as a mini-indoor barbeque.
Scented candles are everywhere. Oh, alright, I admit it, I love a scented candle, me. I’m not alone. I’ve seen women trapped for hours in the smelly candle bit of John Lewis.
Mind you, it sometimes startles me of an evening when I’ve lit one, then forgotten, then wonder why the scent of lavender randomly drifts across the room. Puts me in mind of Victorian seances. I did once call out “Are you there, mother?” and my mum answered “yes, I’m in the kitchen. Do you want tea?”
We are now safely stocked up against the eventuality of the power cuts that Liz says won’t happen. Top tip, a pal of mine suggested some LED lamps. They really are wee belters. You can get them online or at camping shops.
I’ve also looked out the Monopoly, Scrabble and Ludo boards. Power cuts? Bring it.