The pure, floundering, heart-stopping horror of a power-cut | Jack Marshall’s column

In the timeless worlds of Joni Mitchell, don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone. Too true, Joni. The precious, if unappreciated, commodity I had was electricity, and when it went in a power cut, I was left floundering like a turtle on its back.

A telling barometer of how reliant we are on our gadgets is the fact that, when every single one of them is extinguished with a perfunctory click, it’s seriously startling. With a sound like a heavy pillow dropped onto a hardwood floor, the house went from a living, breathing hive of volts and surges to silence.

With just two suddenly-feeble-looking candles flickering tamely, everything took on a decidedly more Victorian tinge. I felt a strong primal urge to don a nightgown and a nightcap with a long ostentatious bobble to read a hardback in a high-backed chair.

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My phone! Oh god, my phone. It runs on electricity, and heaven only knows when that will be back. What percentage am I on? Please, god, don’t tell me I’ve forgotten to charge it. What will I do? What will I scroll through and stare at? What will I look at while the TV is on? Wait, the TV isn’t on either. But what will I have on in the background?

Desperate times call for desperate measures - case in point, this thing's called a candle

Tea. Times like this call for tea. Ah, I can’t boil the kettle. No tea for me, then. Wait, didn’t kettles use to work on the hob? Screaming with steam until you saw to them like a wailing baby? You know, back in the olden days? I could use a trusty pan. Old school. Here we go - pan filled, onto the hob it goes. Wait. The hob’s electric.

I ring my dad, who lives nearby. He’s not got a power cut, and starts gloating about how much extra electricity they have. I put the phone down, careful to preserve my precious battery - a neighbour might try to attack me for it before long. Thoughts turn to cold porridge and meals of what I can only imagine will be roadkill from here on in.

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Then, after 15 minutes, the lights come back on. I put my phone on charge.