What is it about blokes that, once they hit about 40-45, makes them want to own a good sturdy torch (that's “flashlight”, for people of American extraction)?

I remember as a 5 or 6 year old having a little square AA battery torch, which was next to bloody useless as a source of illumination, but hey – you switch the switch and LIGHT COMES OUT OF THE END! Since then I've had a succession of torches, ranging through the variety of cheap crappy supermarket D-Cell eaters, through various penlights (each with a more astounding ability to self-strip the endcap thread than the last), until in my mid-teens I joined the ranks of Maglite owners. Granted, it was only the AA Mini Maglite – made from aircraft aluminium and giving the distinct impression that you could roll a tank over it & it wouldn't split into 50 bits like all those other cheap crappy torches. Owing to the size though the mini-maglite was still eminently loseable, and many of them lay scattered about the South Australian wildernesses, Wherever Scouts Do Go.

Once I'd moved into the ranks of motorists and no longer had to carry everything in my bag when I wnet places, suddenly the 3 D-Cell maglite became my lightsource of choice. Not packing the same intimidating yet awkward baseball bat-like form as its brothers the 4 and 6 D-Cell, the 3-D was like a gronup version of the mini maglite, except a lot more difficult to lose down a longdrop toilet and also treated with slightly more care & reverence owing to its $60+ pricetag. For a frigging torch.

I've subsequently had dalliances with a Petzl head torch – designed specifically so that you blind anyone you have a conversation with – both of the incandescent and LED variety, and with an enviro-friendly self-charging torch. A brilliant concept – moving magnetism creates electricity, which can then be stored in a battery and used to make light. The problems being firstly that you need quite a strong magnet, so placing this torch down near credit cards, audio cassettes, or anything else reliant on magnetic nature is duly buggered. Secondly, in order to move the magnet up and down the shaft of the torch you have to adopt a hand action which your friends will take great delight in using as a behavioural correlation to go with the fact you've bought a self-charging torch. Thirdly, the light source was a group of LEDs – touted not only for their low energy usage – but also notable for their low light output. Who knew? Oh and there was the brief but enjoyable period where I owned a handheld 50,000 candlepower portable spotlight. It was brilliant for summoning superheroes, and quite handy for rapidly drying paint, however not particularly practical for any of the purposes I'd typically need a torch for, and – somewhat inexplicably given the size, shape, and weight of the thing – I have no idea where on earth it is.

However the thing I'm talking about is what I perceive to be a middle-aged male need for what I know as a Dolphin Torch. A biggish, heavy, solid incandescent flashlight which uses one of those big, boxy, heavy batteries with the terminals that look a bit like metallic pigtails. Maybe it's a dad thing?

I don't understand the attraction to that particular size and style of torch. It's not as if that kind of battery lasts any longer than other types – my Dad's big orange torch always seemed to be out of juice (although that might have been because my brother and I would always go and get it from its place behind the front door and flash it around behind the furniture and stuff, because being in the dark's more fun when you can see what else is in the dark with you).

This isn't really going anywhere – I just wanted to talk about torches for a bit. I don't think I even own one any more. After the wankertorch (see above) died I've just resigned myself to having to stumble about in the dark.