THERE are many things in this world which baffle me, and right there at the top of the list is electricity.

I never could get my head round the mechanics of circuits and ring mains and the like, and was really quite advanced in years before I could accept that the power would not dribble out of the plughole if the plug were not left in all the time.

When I was a paper boy in the early 1960s, I lived in constant fear each winter of the the local bobby landing at the front door after I had been spotted riding my bike without lights.

The police were much fiercer with errant cyclists then than they are now, and any tyro Lycra lout who rode on the pavement, pushed his bike through red traffic lights and rode more than two abreast would feel the full weight of the law on their backs.

I had a full set of lights, front and rear, powered by a dynamo attached to the rear wheel, but I could never get them to work.

No matter how many wires I attached, buttons I pressed or connections I twiddled, and now matter how furiously I pedalled they stayed resolutely off.

I had to resort to a battery-powered front lamp, which drained a pair of U2 batteries in approximately 20 minutes, and let the rear light look after itself.

I unthinkingly threw one set of useless batteries on the bonfire one November,

But then I found myself genuinely startled halfway through the night when they exploded in spectacular fashion, not only providing the biggest bang of the night, but also covering most of the bonfire party in a thick layer of carbon which took several weeks to wear off.

I did get a glimmer of understanding when my father was tinkering with his pre-war Army despatch rider’s BSA 350 cc motor bike, and asked me to hold two wires while he turned it over.

The belt of electricity I received made my hair stand rigidly to attention for a week.

I test drove one of the first electric cars to be seen in Hexham, and was expecting something like a cross between a milk float and a dodgem car.

Even as I set off, I half expected a swarthy fellow to come and and stand in the boot in a shower of blue sparks and demand half a crown for the ride.

But, contrary to expectations, the car was among the swiftest I have ever driven over the Constantius Bridge on the A69.

I may have mentioned before my mishaps with electrical appliances in the garden.

My propensity for cutting through the cable of the electrical hedgecutters is becoming quite a skill, and a feat which has left smoke arising from the soles of my trainers on previous occasions.

I find electricity is scary stuff, as evidenced by the fact some years ago a power surge sent plugs shooting out of the wall in flames at Hextol Towers, and lightbulbs exploding every time they were switched on.

The electricity board dug a large hole in the road outside, and it was little comfort to know that while we had enough power to launch a jumbo jet, all the other houses on the estate were reduced to barely glowing lights.

As part of the recently-intalled new kitchen we were told we had to have a new fuse panel put in place.

And I had not had cause to look at it until the other night when Mrs Hextol decided she would like a toasted teacake for supper.

I halved one and bunged it into the toaster, as I have done countless times before, but as I pushed down the slide, there was an anguished cry from the living room – the TV had gone off in the middle of Silent Witness!

It was not alone, for it seemed that the teacake had fused the toaster, which in turn had knocked off all the other sockets in the house.

“This will be straightforward,” I assured Mrs Hextol as I got on my knees to look at the brand new fuse box.

All the switches were handily labelled, and the one marked sockets was in the down position.

I flicked it the opposite way – and all the lights went out. Luckily we had a torch.

After a number of experimental switch manipulations and button pressings, power and light were finally restored.

Admittedly, they all went off again when we switched the toaster back on, but the second visit to the fuse box was a total success!