The perfect night

A wet winter’s day, Albury.  The sky is dark grey and the rain’s been pounding continually for sixteen hours, but my spirits are bright.  I have the house to myself for the first time since January.  I’ve bought food to cook, have the movie “50/50” ready to watch and I’ve arranged a Skype call with a friend in LA.  It’s going to be the night of nights and I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks. The veggies are chopped and the meat’s marinating.  I turn on the TV and sit down with a large glass of red wine, ready for an episode of “Underbelly” before I start cooking dinner.  The opening music starts …  and the electricity cuts out.  

Me in the constant rain

I keep being asked for photos of me (specifically ‘full-body’ shots – weirdly). So this is one in the constant rain.

God damn it.

I’m annoyed but there’s no time for self-pity.  I have thirty minutes of daylight left before the house will be in darkness.  Launching into action, I swiftly search for where my mother would keep candles.  Five minutes later I pull out an assortment of mismatched candles, candelabras and a box of matches from a kitchen cupboard.  I suspect there’d be a torch in the garage but I’m not venturing down to that spider-infested cave if there’s an alternative.

A large plastic container of not-quite-finished candle-stubs testifies that my mother doesn’t waste anything.  Another container of birthday cake candles, party poppers and sparklers testifies that she’s as prepared for an impromptu celebration as she is for a blackout.  Or she just likes flammable things.

Long shadows fill the house, reminding me of the deadline driven by the setting sun.  I have to keep moving.  I place the candles in various holders and begin to position them around the living room when I hear a knock at the front door.  I open it and am greeted by a tall middle-aged man.  It’s been fifteen minutes since the power cut out.

Man:  G’day. I live next door and I was just wondering if your power’s out?

Me:  Yep.  It’s been out for about ten minutes.

Man:  Oh, okay.  We weren’t sure if it was just us or if it’s the whole street.

Me:  I’d say it’s everyone.  I’ve pulled out the candles in case it lasts a while.  Do you need any?

Him:  No, we’re right.  We’ve got loads.

We say goodbye though three more neighbours knock on my door in the next few minutes to have the same conversation.  The last one, Amy, also gives me limes from her tree, coriander from her herb garden and asks for a cup of self-raising flour so she can finish making her golden syrup dumplings when the power comes back on.  My night isn’t turning out as I’d hoped but it is making me smile.

And me under the lemon tree just before it pours rain ... again.

And me under the lemon tree just before it pours rain … again

I close the door to Amy and scan the living room to assess my options for the evening.  No TV, no DVD, no oven, no microwave, no kettle, no light and no phone.  And of course I’ve not charged my laptop.

Darkness descends and I light a three-pronged silver candelabra.  I have a bath and put on a thick dressing-gown and long woollen socks.  After making a sandwich, I sit in the rocking chair next to the open fire with my book.  Thunder rumbles and a vivid flash of lightning momentarily brightens the room before again leaving it to the warm glow of the fire and candlelight.  I feel overwhelmingly serene and content.  Nothing can interrupt or distract me. I’m warm, comfortable and about to be entirely absorbed by the spellbinding characters I’ve been following for over 400 pages; I cannot wait to see what happens to them.   It may not be the evening I planned, but it couldn’t be more perfect.

13 responses to “The perfect night

  1. Nicola Cressey

    Rocklea Road?!? Sounds lush! And I think you need to bring me some back as a present for leaving me for so long. I drove past your house today, Simone., Not in a spooky stalky way, but on the way back from the cinema. Missing you, your funky style and your clacky mules x

    • Of course you did it in a spooky (let’s say creepy) stalky way and I fully appreciate it. I love the thought of being stalked!

      My ‘funky’ style?! Well not long now, my precious, not long now. We’ll be reunited very soon 🙂

  2. Nice one Simone! Tis good to be all alone with your thoughts, warm safe and snug, and with the 21st Century firmly switched off. Your mind can wander onto who you are. You might even have an epiphany or make a resolution. Or see situations or people for what they are. But one thing is for sure, you can say with confidence ‘God don’t I look fabulous’ in the candlelight!

    And all this with a bottle of red wine. Could reflective moments get any better? I don’t think so. At such times you can ‘discover’ who you are. Years ago I did the same thing. It was a beautiful evenings ‘journey’ for me. I learnt a lot about myself. However in the end my self-discovery got a bit too much. I became quite emotional. But it was all ok cos I had my bottle of wine and I kept drinking to forget 🙂

    Hope you had a lovely evening.

    • For better or for worse I think I know who I am most of the time … and worryingly so does everyone else 😉

      Luckily I don’t get emotional when I drink – unless you count getting excitable, animated, happy and extra loud! 🙂

      You’re entirely right about candlelight. Everything and everyone looks better in it!

  3. Loving the dress Simone and nice brollie x

  4. An open fire – I’m jealous! Sounds like a perfect night to me too, I just would have added plenty of chocolate.

    • Who says I didn’t? 😉 In fact, ever since Darrell Lea announced they were going into administration I’ve been stocking up on, and completely scoffing, Rocklea Road. I love it and the fear of it never being available again is more than I can take! It’s bad enough not being able to get it in England, but not being able to get it at all is a disaster.

  5. Sod it! I’m going to stop paying my electricity bills, who needs light when you make candlelight sound so alluring…

    • Candlelight really is beautiful. I was recently given a candle as a gift with a specific instruction to “have it by my bedside”. Always one to obey (and you of all people know I’m not joking!) I light it every night for about ten minutes when I go to bed. It’s a great way to wind down.

  6. This is why I like to get away from the world every now and then. I don’t have the willpower to say no to technology but absolutely love it when I can spend a weekend reading and enjoying the fireside. Glad you got to have a night like that.

    • Exactly! It’s so hard to switch off your phone and internet etc, but when it’s forced it’s fantastic. I’ve made a decision to do it more often … I actually think I do have the willpower but time will tell 🙂

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