John Bullock Lighting Design
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On being in the dark . . .


I’ve decided that I don’t like going to work in the dark. At the time of writing, I’m sitting on an early train to London, for a 9.00am meeting in the Great Wen. The view from the train windows is . . . blackness, and it brings a couple of things to mind.

When the financial crisis really started to bite in 2010 I wrote a (pre-general election) piece (Angels and Lumens), both prescient and semi-comedic, about having to walk darkened streets because an austerity government had turned off all the street lights. It was meant as satire, guys! I envisaged street urchins converting fishing rods to LED lanterns, guiding richer folk through the streets – I called them Light Anglers. I could have done with one today because some of Sherborne streets were unlit and the icy patches were taking advantage of the overall gloom.

Imagine, just before Christmas a town centre in England experiences a power outage, leaving townsfolk wandering around in the dark, guided only by their mobile phone torches (and, yes, I did think about using my phone this morning but I have a whole day away and there’s only so much a Nokia battery can stand . . . and it’s rarely enough). I’ve been writing about emergency lighting this week (my day job as applications editor for Lux Review makes me do it) and it led to a bit of musing about the way that we use emergency lighting. If a shop goes dark, the plan is to have sufficient illumination to get customers out into the street – where there’s no light at all. There must be a better way than this, I thought, and I think today’s short journey from home to railway station demonstrated it.

A few of the shops along the unlit streets had left their window display lighting on, and very gay it looked – positively Dickensian . . .  but then again, this is Sherborne where some residents claim Dickens as a personal friend. So why don’t we have a requirement that shop frontages should include emergency lighting in their windows so that the good people in our town centres can benefit from the ensuing borrowed light as they wander the no-longer-pitch-black streets looking for somewhere still serving skinny lattes? I’m just asking.

Train journey update: just west of Basingstoke, the southerly horizon begins to brighten in that gorgeous orange-fading-to-bluee way that it has and fluffy clouds are deep grey against a washed-out blue sky. Marvellous!

RIBA CPD in 2015

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