ENVIRONMENT: Illuminating discussions

London, England, late 19th century.

“Whoa boy, whoa,” said the hackney carriage driver.

“I’m sorry Mr Holmes, but I can’t see very well in these badly lit streets, I think I’m going to have to employ one of these street urchins to walk in front of us to guide us back to Baker Street with a flaming torch.”

“Don’t worry driver,” said Holmes, “Dr Watson and I will try to walk the rest of the way home, good night to you.”

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“I say Holmes,” said Watson, “I was reading in The Thunderer just this morning that there is a chap at Newcastle, I think they call him Swan, who has invented a thing called an Incandescent Lamp.”

“Tell me more,” replied Holmes.

“Well, apparently this new bright light is powered by that electricity thing everyone is talking about.

“They say street lighting and home lighting will be transformed, the days of stumbling about in the winter nights will be a thing of the past.

“Deuce clever fellows those Geordies, Holmes.”

“Quite so Watson, quite so.”

Allerburn Lea, winter, 2016/17.

“Dad,” said the small boy, “Why is it so dark these nights while we are walking around Allerburn?”

“We’re saving the planet son.”

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“But dad,” said the boy, “If we’re saving the planet, is everybody else doing the same?”

“I suppose so,” replied dad.

“Well why is it County Hall at Morpeth is lit up like a Christmas tree, and there’s Las Vegas, Blackpool Illuminations and flood-lit footy matches – they don’t seem to be saving the planet.”

“Look son,” said father now a little irritably, “Hurry up or we will be late.”

“Where are we going again?” inquired the boy.

“To a Luminarie show,” said dad. “Why, they shine powerful lights onto buildings for our enjoyment.”


“Yes,” growled father.

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“If we’re saving the planet why did you buy a patio heater at Christmas for the whole family?”

“Look,” said father, by now very annoyed, “Just shine the damn torch our way.”

“But dad,” said the boy.

“Shut up,” said dad.

Tom Cape,

Allerburn Lea,


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