Mirth and Woe: Electricity
Our one source of energy
The ultimate discovery
Electric blue for me
Never more to be free
So sung 80s music act Orchestral Manouevres in the Dark. And they should know, for OMD Unplugged was crap.
Some people are born paranoid about this modern electric-powered world. Others have paranoia thrust upon them. Quite often, well-meaning parents scar their children for life with their otherwise innocent attempts to steer their children from the wrong path in life.
Take Richard, for example.
Richard was an otherwise well-balanced young man who could do normal things like fart and play the piano at the same time.
However, Richard's parents were somewhat over-protective of their little darling, to the point that he was rarely allowed out of their sight for fear that he'd come home one day, killed to death.
It was on a car journey one day that he mentioned to his parents that "Those electricity pylons - they look just like climbing frames, don't they? Wouldn't it be fun if..."
No. It would not be fun. It would not be fun at all.
As a matter of fact, boys that climb up electricity pylons are more often than not killed entirely TO DEATH, leaving a pair of grieving parents that might as well kill themselves TO DEATH as well, their entire reason for living having been extinguished.
Rather over-egging their hour-long lecture on the dangers of electricity pylons, they put the fear of God up the boy, telling him, in no uncertain terms, that even touching one of these monsters would course a million volts through your tiny, fragile body, leaving you killed TO DEATH, burnt to a crisp.
Telegraph poles, too. Certain death. Street lights, thousands of the Queen's volts coursing through them - one way trip to the undertakers.
This was knowledge beaten into him with an iron fist by God-fearing parents that wouldn't let him break wind without written permission.
In summary: his folks turned him into a mental.
Of course, the minute he stepped out into the real world, his neuroses would be laid bare for all to see. Luckily he did this in the presence of his many friends, who supported him through his hour of need.
Fuck it, we ripped the piss out of him something rotten like the bounders we were.
It all came to a head the first time we played hide-and-seek with him in the street. The counting post was the street light outside our house, and Richard was understandably reluctant to take his turn.
"Look, Rich," says I, making to touch the street light, "there's nothing to worry about."
"DON'T TOUCH IT! DON'T TOUCH IT! YOU'LL DIE!!!"
I touched it, and didn't die.
I found out something quite interesting that day: People really do wee their trousers when you scare them enough.
Not entirely cured of his phobia, his next and greatest test came in the form of a Scout hike across the wilds of South Oxfordshire.
Our route took us down a footpath that would transport us across several miles of rolling fields to our destination. And striding across the field like so many metal giants was a line of electricity pylons, all wired up to a million volts of deadly Richard-killing power.
As we got closer and closer, he became more and more nervous, as if they would lash out with deadly accuracy and flail us all TO DEATH with red hot cables.
And then, we were right next to one of the behemoths, and he ran with sweat and began mumbling to himself. The Lord's Prayer, it turned out, desperate as he was for salvation from the people who had led him across this Field of Certain Doom.
"Hey look!" shouted Paul making out - in jest - to scale the giant, "It's like a giant climbing frame!"
There was a brief second of silence, followed by a low growl. A low growl that became a whimper. A whimper that rose into a visceral shriek of despair, anger and fear.
Paul touched the pylon with an air of nonchalance, and with a scream recoiled several feet in the air and lay, writhing on the ground in the agony of his death throes.
"PAUL! PAUL!!!! OH GOD!!! PAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUL!!!!!!"
Richard rushed over to his almost-but-not-quite-killed-TO-DEATH friend, tears in his eyes, expecting to see him breathe his last, bequeathing his collection of imported Dutch grumble mags to his best and closest friend.
"What?" said Paul, a cheeky look on his face.
His reply was low, tearful, barely audible to all but those nearest to him.
"I've shit meself."