What do you do when the lights go out? As a child of the seventies, this was part of the fabric of my youth, power cuts were a regular occurrence and of course, any seventies-era family was always well prepared.


Candles and camping lights and boxes of matches were always to hand along with torches. I remember as a kid the excitement of being allowed to use the ‘big torch’ to go and help dad fetch the candles from the pantry under the stairs. The gas camp cooker would come out along with board games and a battery-powered transistor radio, it was all a bit of an adventure really.

Living as we do in the back end of nowhere in rural France we are once again in the position where the electricity supply can be a little fickle. It is a lot better these days but a storm, high winds or just a local farmer taking their tractor for a spin and knocking out an overhead cable, can still plunge us into the inky blackness and make us realise how dependant we are on electricity.

Bird’s Eye View – Set Adrift Without An Anchor

Bird’s Eye View – Set Adrift Without An Anchor


Losing access to the internet feels like your right arm has been removed and without that, music, TV, Netflix and all other electrical and/or internet-based entertainment (there isn’t even a reliable mobile signal where we live) thumbs can be twiddled before reverting back to 1970s mode and ‘finding something to do’. Having become used to rural living there is a stash of candles and matches to hand, but also fully charged USB power banks and LED lights. Playing cards and Scrabble are brought out as they used to be, or some offline game on the mobile phone.  Being out in the sticks, cooking in this situation isn’t a problem, everyone cooks on bottled gas anyway and of course, we have a paraffin heater if things get chilly. If it goes on for more than a few hours it is inconvenient, but the novelty still makes it feel like a bit of an adventure like it did in the seventies, it’s actually OK drifting along without the anchors of Facebook updates, disk spinning, regular news bulletins and the latest episode of your favourite TV show.

And that is what 2020 felt like, being cast adrift. Regular occurrences and points of reference gone.. like a power cut but with no matches, no candles or no big torch to hand. No normal everyday things that you would normally anchor your life around…there wasn’t even a map.


From the end of February 2020 life for everyone changed, well perhaps not for hermits that live in a cave without electricity, internet or visitors, they probably didn’t even notice anything different, until the planes stopped flying overhead. Reading like the script from perhaps the most unbelievable disaster movie ever written, 2020 made us realise what it was really like to be bobbing around in the middle of the ocean without dry land anywhere on the horizon and a compass that refused to point you in the right direction.

At first, it was like when the power went out back when you were a kid, there was a certain novelty factor to the situation and a sense of freedom as one by one the regular daily anchors disappeared off the radar.


Suddenly huge voids of time opened up before us like an endless ocean. With few of the regular responsibilities of school runs and normal office hours, we had to ‘find something to do’ like the 70s power-cut family. Some people got into exercise regimes or learning new skills, some of us got creative, some of us binge-watched TV and films, some of us built replicas of Stonehenge from empty wine boxes.

What shall we do today? Not much work to do as the whole world is in chaos, shall we have wine for breakfast…well yes, that wine box henge is not going to build itself?

People stopped going to work or worked from home, restaurants shut, shops shut, all forms of in-person entertainment shut, people we knew started to get ill, or worse and the situation started to become very, very serious.

Days, weeks, and months drifted by as we barely held it together. Fear and dread circled us like a shark around a lifeboat, we didn’t see anybody, we didn’t go anywhere, our only real contact with the world had been reduced to social media and shaky video chats…we were soon pretty fed up with being kept in, but we did it none the less.


The usual life of anyone involved in the HiFi Industry involves quite a lot of traveling.  We have some friends who spend more time in a ‘normal’ year away from home than they do at home. HiFi Industry bods cover a lot of miles by air, road and sometimes sea and know the many airports of the world intimately. And of course one of the big reasons for travel, if you are involved in the industry or the hobby of HiFi, is the Hifi Show.


Before 2020, HiFi Shows had become our calendar. You knew exactly what time of year it was and where you would be because there was a show on. February is Bristol, May means Munich, June has to be NWAS at Cranage, October…get to Denver for RMAF, November, wrap up warm and head to Warsaw and there are many, many more shows in between. The Hifi Industry is peopled with a traveling community that drifts around the globe in accordance to which show is next, anchored to a rhythm that is safe and reassuringly familiar, so when the Hifi Shows began to disappear off the horizon faster than torpedoed ships we all lost the plot a little and didn’t really know where on earth we were or were meant to be.

At first, some folks were saying that the Covid pandemic would blow over quite quickly, some people thought that Munich 2020 would still go ahead…it didn’t, and neither did the May 2021 show, which got postponed to September (which to be honest really started to mess with our calendars and our heads). As I write this the September show has been canceled and we are all setting our sights on High End Munich in May 2022.


Just like the few people that thought it was a squall in a teacup rather than a re-enactment of The Perfect Storm, some Hifi Shows held fast, sure that their 2020 event would go ahead, but just like dominos once one big one went over so did the rest and the 2020 Hifi Show calendar was a complete wipe-out. But there’s still 2021, right? Like a bad Hollywood sequel, 2021 has the same plot as its predecessor and one that we are all beginning to tire of. With Munich gone most have come round to the acceptance that other than very local shows (for local people, and exhibitors) and virtual events, the likelihood of anything happening this side of Christmas is slim to remote at best.


But once the power comes back and the lights go on, once we feel safe creeping out from our hermit-like existences Hifi Shows will still be there. With our post-pandemic world being lived out in a ‘new normal’, they may have changed a bit, but I am sure for the better. Improvements to combat covid will make shows more comfortable, packing people into small hotel rooms like sardines will be a big no-no, but the experience and the excitement will still be there. We are already looking for 2022 to be a year when we again get to travel the world listening to the wonderful creations that the global HiFi industry has to offer and meeting up with all the friends we have made along the way.

Get ready to hoist the sails and cast off, we may have been a bit lost at sea for the last year or so, but things are getting better, and we can, just about, start plotting our course again.

We are keeping the Hifi Diary as up to date as possible, it’s a good place to start planning for when the Hifi Shows come back, click here for more info!






Linette Smith



The Hifi Pig Selection Box May #1
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