The first time I brought darkness to a house was when I tried to resurrect my Mum's ageing music centre. Putting the plug in with a flourish I turned on the switch and there followed immediately the loudest bang I had ever heard: in the ensuing darkness my Mum berated me as I jumped like an electrocuted flea and the dog, performing the only sensible act of his life, dived under the sofa.
Although I retain a talent for getting simple things wrong, I don't need to exercise this talent any longer in the realm of household illumination. Yesterday, it became illegal for shops to sell conventional light-bulbs, so that we are only able to buy the so-called energy-saving ones that are supposed to be saving the world.
The thing is, these bulbs shatter at the slightest touch and, when this happens, children and pregnant women have to be evacuated from the room because of the mercury and cadmium contents of the things.
The key is the supposed longevity of the things. The manufacturers are only starting to admit, now that it's illegal to sell the better products to householders, that while the bulbs may provide illumination for the length of time stated on the box, the degree of light it casts on matters declines after less than half its lifetime - in other words, they lied. This is no academic matter: a friend of ours is becoming decidedly glum in the gloom.
The thing is, it isn't illegal to sell real light-bulbs for industrial purposes. So what's to stop us buying ordinary bulbs through our work, or at industrial outlets?
This isn't a vexatious statement. If you get hold of an "energy-saving" lightbulb in its box, the chances are that you won't find a statement of the country of origin. This is because they are often made in China, with the plastic components having been taken there by ship and returned by the same means, with China insisting that any pollution generated in their manufacture being added to the "carbon footprint" of the countries of origin and destination.
Personally, I'll be looking for real lightbulbs. I'm tired of switching on a light and waiting several seconds to get less illumination than would be provided by two candles. My Mum and her dog are gone, but if I were to maintain the living-room in perpetual twilight, I'm sure the cat would give me a particularly withering glance.