The electric light in our house, like most people’s nowadays, has been supplied up till now by energy-saving, eco-friendly lightbulbs. This has placed me squarely in the middle of a dilemma – I’m all in favour of cutting down energy consumption and helping save the planet, but I’d really like to be able to see. The strongest lightbulbs we could get would glow dimly, throwing out about as much light as a guttering candle – my mobile phone gives out more light. There have been times when I’d go to switch the lamp on in order to see better, only to find it was already on.
It’s OK, I guess, if all you want to do is sit and chat or watch TV (although it has to be said the general gloom can be quite depressing), but I rarely watch TV and I like to read or do other things instead. My compromise till now has been to hoard old-fashioned energy-guzzling lightbulbs bought in bulk from the corner shop (which is the only place that still stocks these things), and use just one of them to illuminate my book or whatever else I need to look at. I’ve felt mildly guilty about this, but it really has been necessary if I wanted to avoid living like a troglodyte.
One day, trapped by a mixture of guilt and desperation, it occurred to me that perhaps we could find a different kind of lighting – maybe halogen, for example. Geoff went on a mission to hunt something down and came back with a clutch of wonderful halogen lightbulbs that give out something approximating 150 watts. Suddenly, the whole house looks brighter and lighter and, yes, happier! And they’re still economical on energy so we don’t need to feel too guilty about them. It’s completely transformed the way the place feels and makes me dread the winter dark a little less than I usually do.
An unexpected side effect of all this is that when we added one to our dining room lampshade, which is made of criss-crossing rough string, the shadows it cast round the room were quite astonishing. It felt a bit like being in the middle of a dancefloor that has one of those glitterball things. I simply had to run for my camera.