Monday, 27 January 2014
Less is often More Part II
Following on from my last post in which I suggested that less is sometimes more and mentioned my book The Garden Cottage Diaries I thought about technology and how much I now use the internet and how I keep trying to cut back so as to have time for more crafting.and other things and was reminded of the Three Day Week and how we were all plunged into darkness forty years ago in 1974. I wonder just how we would manage these days without electricity 4 days every week? Of course we had no computers then nor any of the myriad electronic gizmos that people use all the time these days and which require re-charging regularly.
We were lucky enough to have a Parkray fire - this was a cream enameled glass fronted fire with a back boiler for hot water (we didn't have central heating back then) and used solid fuel so we were warm enough in the living room on the days when there was no electricity but of course the rest of the house was freezing as it was from January to March that the 3-day week took place. We had candles for light and a little camping gas stove which we could heat a kettle on. But - and here is the thing - we managed and knowing everyone was in the same boat led to a kind of Blitz spirit. At work we were bundled up in coats and scarves and luckily not having computers nor even electric typewriters an office job was not much affected apart from not being able to see what we were typing after 3.00 in the afternoon and not being able to feel our fingers!!
We didn't have a TV back then so that didn't matter to us and we made use of the radio Mr M had brought with him to our marriage which ran on a battery!! Reading by candle light was not easy but we managed and I used to make casseroles and suchlike on the days we did have electricity and then we'd have something to re-heat on the camping gas stove on the days when we didn't have power. And at least we didn't have to worry about not having a fridge as the house was so cold and freezers were only just becoming fashionable and we didn't have one. Perhaps my childhood without electricity helped me to deal with it all.
Maybe my idea of running away and living off-grid - which I spoke about here - wasn't such a bad idea after all! At least I would have some knowledge of such a lifestyle from my years of living in the Forest at my grandfather's of which I have written in my childhood memories posts. There we had no electricity nor gas and although there was mains water by the time I lived there and the well had been covered up the tap was in an outhouse and shared between the two houses. Life was different then but I don't remember being unhappy at not having all mod cons even those that were by the 50s available. After all most homes in the 50s had mains water and indoor toilets along with electricity for lights if not for power (who remembers electric irons being plugged into the light fittings?!). However we had paraffin lamps for light, a range fire for cooking and heat and a toilet out the back which must have been connected to a septic tank or something - it certainly didn't have a flush. We had a wind up radiogram which one of my uncles had apparently made years before in the 20s perhaps, and a few rather dated 78's to play on it when we had any needles! We did rent a radio in time for the Coronation I remember but that required an accumulator to run it and this had to be recharged each week at the shop and necessitated a walk to said shop carrying the accumulator (see below) which weighed a ton!
Less use of the car (what car?!) meant more walking as it was the only way to get about other than taking a bus or train.
Less comfort indoors and very little space meant more time spent outdoors playing for me and my friends which meant more exercise - no couch potatoes with their electronic gismos to play on then!
Less money to spend - more creativity - not so much in the way of beautiful crafts but more of the necessity being the mother of invention kind!
I could go on and on but I'd better stop. Here is a little piece I came across which says it more briefly than I have!