Monday, February 26, 2007

A Short Treatise On Lamp Posts 1

A strange thing happened to me the other evening. I was taking Amy for her late night walk. It was dark and we headed down the main road searching for a suitable spot to do whatever needed to be done. There was little traffic on the road, but the street lights cast their amber glow through what was a cold and still February evening. Street lights are one of the background forces of modern living : like the constant rumble of traffic you tend not to notice their presence. The thing which drew my attention to the street light the other evening was that as I approached it, it dimmed and went out. I may have thought for a moment or two about the mechanics of the process, whether or not the malfunction could be remotely detected at Streetlight HQ, but such thoughts quickly passed and Amy and I headed on down the road. A change to the intensity of our shadow drew my attention back to the street light which had now come on again. Perhaps it was a self-repairing street light! Who knows what technical miracles can now be performed. Marching onwards my thoughts quickly turned to other things. The offending street light was now well behind us and we approached the next one of the set. And just as we did .... it started to dim too.
We walked on. Amy's sniffing and my day-dreaming had been abandoned. Our thoughts - and our eyes - were now focused on the second malfunctioning street light. Sure enough, as we left its immediate locality and headed further down the road, if flickered back to life again. We had now reached a section of the road where the street lights were on the other side of the road and thus there was no further opportunity to test what appeared to be my new supernatural powers. Somewhat nervously, dog and owner turned back towards home and once again entered into the sphere of influence on one of the oscillating street lights. And yet again, as we approached, it dimmed and darkened. By now we were both seriously spooked and almost running panic-stricken up the road. As we approached the next street light I was genuinely quite frightened. As we came closer I just stared at the lamp, willing it to stay lit, breathing erratically, fear in my eyes. It stayed lit and an enormous feeling of relief engulfed me. As the next light was passed - and stayed fully functioning - the fear began to fall away and I started to laugh at myself. "Silly old fool, they will be locking you up soon".
But I still haven't forgotten those few minutes when I was convinced that I was emitting some kind of force which was causing the very street lights to fail. I still search for explanations : I wear a cochlear implant which emits a radio signal - could this be causing the street lights to fail? I wonder whether I should mention this phenomenon the next time I go for my regular appointment to the Cochlear Implant Centre but decide against it. It still only needs one doctor and a social worker to commit someone, so I need to be careful. But the whole episode has left a lasting impression on me. I still cannot comfortably walk out at night without glancing up at the street lights as I pass by - just to check.


  1. One's tempted to ask who's been watching too much Harry Potter ("The Prisoner of A.." - unspellable)....

    To be boringly pedantic, some types of lampost lamps are designed go off if they get too hot (and then come back on when they've cooled off.) Basically a random effect... so to get two in a row so neatly timed was startling. But "random" effects can frequently seem definitively un-random.

    For example, if I play net-game "Bloomin' Gardens" (don't try it home, it's more addictive than heroin,) the random planting of new plants is definitely always out to get me. When Jane plays it, they kindly line up in rows or at least leave enough gaps for her to line them up in fives (which causes them to vanish.) Seemingly. But the plants actually appear entirely at random.

  2. I was taken to see the first Harry P film but I fell asleep after the first five minutes and since then I have resisted the temptation to dip my toe into the water. Your explanation about them going off when they get too hot is interesting and one which I will follow up using some of the sources highlighted in the second part of the treatise which I am working on as we speak.


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