Melissa Kite Melissa Kite

The mystical power of the word ‘unsafe’

The minute I uttered it, Surrey County Council sprang into action

[Photo: Shinyfamily]

The street light as bright as the Dog Star was fitted with a shield, and I was assigned my own personal engineer who rang and texted me.

Whether or not this was because I had threatened to throw myself out of the window, I can’t be sure. But it is certainly true that I got service with a smile after I lost my already limited supply of marbles and yelled down the phone to Surrey County Council that if they didn’t do something about the bright white LED bulb shining into my bedroom from the street lamp newly fitted with the latest ‘energy saving’ technology, then I would jump.

It was a ‘day burner’, which meant it was on all day and all night. Maddening is not the word, and even with blackout blinds I lay awake worrying that if I drew the curtains I would see there was no night time out there, just blinding brightness.

That thought kept me awake. And the thought that it was a huge waste of energy and taxpayers’ money. And the thought that the confiscation of night time was doing something to the body clocks of the owls and the foxes and all the little animals trying to exist naturally in the glare of that light — the birds, the toads, the insects… what if they couldn’t sleep? On and on it went in my head.

I’ve been vaguely aware for some time that the word ‘unsafe’ carries mystical powers

It felt like the only way to get them to take me seriously was to let rip and tell them how I felt. At first they offered me social services. But after a few wailing sessions, someone at Surrey County Council did take me seriously and instructed their contractors to go and look. They went to the wrong street lamp initially, prompting more wailing from me.

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