The Blackout

Blackout! Just another word, not even in the dictionary, yet what a difference it has made to the every day, or rather every night order of things. I wonder if a few weeks ago the average Englishman would have been able to visualise, with any degree of accuracy, conditions in London in the Blackout. I hardly think so.

However, to take the Blackout lightly! Even the most hardened arm-chair squatter will admit that, in spite of the inconveniences and restrictions imposed, there is an undeniable spice of adventure in sallying forth into the darkened streets, even if only to post a letter. The distance to the pillar-box is an unknown quantity; familiar pavements become unexplored territory, while trees, lamp-posts and shrubs assume grotesque and threatening shapes, and one finds oneself apologizing to a somewhat ‘bony' gentleman with whom you've just collided, and who turns out to be a newly erected fire alarm.

One becomes acutely conscious, for perhaps the first time, of the beauty of the heavens; a velvet vault, flecked with the light of the eternal lanterns - and a feeling of complete pygmyism, mingled with awe, sweeps the gazer with an irresistible nostalgia for the unknown.

There is, of course, the domestic side, i.e., hammer-dropping, ladder-climbing (and falling), thumb-crushing, etc., and then the wretched curtains either collapse or aren't thick enough. Of which fact you are soon informed by a pompous - in view of the large number of air raid wardens I'd better just say conscientious - warden, whose chief delight seems to be to pick holes, or rather lights, in one's curtains.

A whole chapter of the blackout era could be written about the motorist, who appears to undergo all the bogies and none of the pleasures of darkness. Inadequate lighting on the car, interfering wardens, interrogative ‘Specials', inquisitive bystanders, and the indistinct forms of irresponsible pedestrians materialising in the gloom, all combine, with the insatiable greed of his petrol tank, to turn the inoffensive motorist into a semi-lunatic.

Oh well, it's better to be blacked out by darkness temporarily, than blacked out by bombs permanently. So, chin up, (you couldn't see your feet anyway) till, in the words of the song: “the lights of London shine again”.