‘Rocket science’ light bulbs still leave me in the dark

What happened to the concept of markets meeting consumer demand and so achieving equilibrium?

All I wanted was a flipping light bulb. It is surely not rocket science or, as they now say, arugula science but what happened was, they took away the ones I liked (as I have mentioned before ad nauseam) and replaced them with intestinally coiled energy bulbs, bulbs that look like instruments of torture, bulbous bulbs, bulbs that only approximate to desired wattages, and bulbs similar to the old sort except without pearl versions.

How long before the energy saving bulbs cast light? Up to 30 seconds... the amount of time it takes me to run upstairs, miss the top step and wrench my ankle.

Many are “Not dimmable” – if “dimmable” is even a word.

In my sitting room which has two ceiling lights, each with three bulbs, my continuing confusion means I now have four traditional incandescent bulbs, one bulb that isn’t supposed to dim except it does and my husband is worried it might blow up, and one LED bulb that, because it is clear glass, casts a spider-like light shadow on the ceiling.


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Some of the new types have mercury in them... we kept that stuff in a locked cupboard in the physics lab at school. There was a radiation symbol on the door. Perhaps we will all end up glowing in the dark and never need light bulbs again.

The wattages on the new bulbs – Lord knows why – are short of norm with 57 the nearest to 60 and 91 closest to 100w... if you can even find the upper range on the shelves.

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You need an instruction manual to navigate through the different varieties but it won’t help because none of them is a patch on the banned bulbs.

After visiting one town centre store and two out-of-town DIY stores in search of 60w equivalents, I have concluded that the EU really wants me to have 25w or 31w bulbs.

If I wanted to read by the dimmest possible light, I’d curl up in the oven with a book. Or I could get in the fridge and leave the door ajar to darn socks. Until now, my only use for 25w was in appliances. It is an adequate light by which to check if your meringue is looking good or your Yorkshire pudding has risen. It is not enough to see by.

Are we all now expected to live in the half-light of a cheap hotel room where you have to put your head inside the lampshade to read your well-thumbed copy of Fifty Shades of Gordon Bennett?

I like it bright.

Meanwhile, the light outside our front door is giving a public service since the council started turning off our street lights at midnight.

It is possible to cheat and buy old-type bulbs online but I would much rather have a new-style bulb that does what I want, one that:

1. Lights up when I press the switch, not at some time in the future;

2. Doesn’t look like something from pre-1989 eastern Europe;

3. Sheds a warm light;

4. Is actually available to buy;

5. Is environmentally friendly or, at least, not too unfriendly.

We have all this wondrous technology but we are being plunged into gloom. What we need is someone to shed more light on the situation.

On the brighter side, I have good news about my alarm clock. My son, Mark, gave it to me for my 41st birthday and it automatically changes from GMT to BST and vice versa. The only problem was that when the batteries ran out, I had to scroll the date forward from its default of January 1, 1996. As the years have gone by, it has taken longer and longer to reach the correct date, most recently 12 minutes and a sore finger.

So, last week, when the batteries needed replacing, I took the bold step of leaving it to see if its internal aerial would adjust the date and time. It did. That’s 10 hours of my life I’ll never get back.

On the much brighter side, we have booked a week’s holiday in the Lake District.

I have been there twice before and the only time it stopped raining was when it snowed. This time, I’m hoping to see some of the scenery I have read so much about.

As long as the mist holds off.

“I really want to go to Scafell Pike,” said my husband who used to be a boy Scout.

“You’re not getting me up there,” I said, before he could utter the two most frightening words in the English language – walking boots.

But he was already on the website looking at routes up England’s highest peak.

“This one is two-and-a-half miles,” he said.

“Doesn’t sound so bad,” I said relieved.

“It can take six hours to get up there and back again,” he added.

Ah. Two-and-a-half vertical miles.

As we approach the autumn equinox, a six-hour expedition may be too much to fit into daylight hours and there is no way I’m sleeping on the side of a mountain.

“Can’t we drive up?” I asked, hopefully.

“Who do you think you are, Jeremy Clarkson?”

I have never thought of myself as Jeremy Clarkson, not even in my wildest nightmares. It looks as if I might have to stay in the car park and read my even more well-thumbed copy of Fifty Shades of Gordon Bennett while he strikes out by himself. But I don’t like the idea of my husband climbing to the summit alone, even though he did get his orienteering and survival badges.

“I’ll look for a smaller mountain,” he said and came up with a gentle one for wives with bad knees. It’s called the Don’t-tell-him Pike or something.

I’m also looking forward to being dazzled by the Blackpool illuminations. Bet they’re not decked out with 25w energy saving bulbs... or are they?

We shall be staying in Windermere with our best friends Jane and Richard. I read that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have also booked a place there.

Honestly you can’t go anywhere without Hollywood A-listers following you around, can you?

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