It’s Random Wednesday, we had a power cut over the whole of Shetland last night, and I’ve just finished going through the aftermath of that.
Now that computers have become such an ever-present part of our lives, the very idea of a power cut fills me with hope and pleasure. Strange, you might say, given that I work in IT and depend on all those computers to keep me in beer and crisps. But no. No power equals no computers, no computers equals no problems. More importantly, at home, no power equals no TV and no internet. That means we have to – drumroll please… – talk to each other! And not just the adults! The kids have to talk as well!
This power cut took us off for a while overnight. I was reading in bed at the time (using the Kindle app on my phone, so no power for a while means no eBooks either) so apart from it suddenly being very, very dark, no real problems. I knew the UPS systems at work would shut everything down gracefully and that we’d have some problems with things not coming back with the power. But the last power cut… That was great fun!
Power went off early evening. Smallest kids were in bed, eldest 2 watching TV. The groans of horror that emanated from the lounge as their umbilical connection to Entertainment was severed shook the place to its very foundations.
“No problems,” said I, “We’ll light some candles and play a game.”
“Awwww, dad, do we have to!” In stereo. Dad’s games are, apparently, not known for their fun quotient.
“It’ll be fun.” (Translation: We’re doing it. Stop whining or go to bed.)
So we lit candles in the kitchen, cracked open a Dungeons and Dragons starter set one of them had brought home from Out of School Club because they’d thought I might like it, and started playing.Two hours later, when the power flickered back on, we switched the lights off, unplugged the microwave (irritating flashing clock) and carried on playing until the dragon was well and truly slain. Much fun was had by all and two new players for Dungeons and Dragons had entered the arena. The kids were begging for another power cut so we could play some more. “Why wait?” said I.
Thus was born our Friday Night Gaming Session. We’ve battled our way through a couple of adventures using www.trolllord.com‘s Castles and Crusades system (great, old-school gaming. Advanced Dungeons and Dragons feel without all that tedious messing around with THAC0 and other things that I really shouldn’t remember as much about but do). When we’d finished adventuring, we stepped into the TARDIS and defeated Autons underneath a seaside village locked in a time loop.
When we wanted to take a break from the roleplaying games, we broke out the playing cards – nothing teaches a kid to add up faster than money being at stake. Well, I say “money”. I mean pasta spirals. That’s our bank in Pontoon, a big box of pasta spirals. They’re uncooked but that doesn’t stop the more inquisitive players from munching on them. When Pontoon got old, we moved to dominoes. When we tired of dominoes, Magic: The Gathering had an outing, Lego games, Carcassonne. We played as a family. Fantastic fun all-round.
Unfortunately, more often than not, we’re back to Simpsons re-runs now. The television has a more powerful draw than fighting goblins or Daleks in your imagination. Passive entertainment has trumped active. So I have a plan. Last night’s power cut made me realise that if that’s what it takes to get the games played, then the power will be cut. Specifically to the lights and not the sockets – I hate having to reset all those different clocks.
Gaming will happen. And it will happen this Friday. I haven’t decided yet whether we’re going for Castles and Crusades, Doctor Who or some other game. Maybe we’ll fight dinosaurs in the Hollow Earth, defeat supervillains whilst maintaining our secret identities, fly X-wing fighters along the trench of a third Death Star that the Rebels have only just found out about. Who knows? The only thing I know for certain is that, right now, anything is possible. And that on Friday night, there’ll be a cry of “Awwwww, dad! Did you *have* to switch that off?” at 7:15PM. But that bedtime will come all too soon for them and they’ll be begging for a power cut on Saturday night.
Mind you, I’ve seen the TV listings for Saturday. A power cut would be a blessing!