Sunday, 1 May 2011

House Sounds

Our house is not a terribly noisy house, nonetheless it has a few sounds, which to my mind are comforting and friendly and reminds one that a house is a living entity. A more wooden house would emit far more creaky and settling noises, but as ours is mainly tiles and concrete – or in fact rubble and rock, as it is an old house built in the old way, it is therefore relatively quiet, but it still breathes.

I will try to eliminate sounds from outside of the house, as in church bells and children playing football in the street but feel that I should include the sounds from the houses on either side of us as they travel through the walls and therefore become a part of the fibre of the house itself and are changed and distorted by the walls they travel through. Although to be precise the sounds from one of the houses, that is the one on the left as you leave by the front door, is empty now and therefore is for the most part silent, unless, as is happening of late there is work being done in it. But that is sporadic and therefore not comforting but unsettling.

As I sit here writing quietly the first sounds that reach me are indeed from outside, children shouting and screaming coming from far off and suddenly two people talking outside the door, it sounds very close; a man and woman, in Spanish and I do not catch the meaning. And just now a skateboard has gone by too – very noisy and so I try to filter out the outside noises as they distract from the actual House Sounds. “Be quiet you little pigeons”

Ahh! The fridge has just come on with a gentle enginey sound first of all, followed by a series of slurps, which sound like the cooing of the pigeons I have just asked to be quiet.

And now that the fridge has ceased its slurpings for the time being, although it is still humming gently, I hear the constant beat of the clock; the heartbeat of the kitchen. Tick, tock, tick, tock, methodically and somewhat laboured as if it is having an effort keeping time. And yet it does. Relentlessly it ticks on, counting out the time for eggs and buses.

Oh! The firidge just moaned a little – just once. A little mroarr!

And during the time I have been writing about the clock and the fridge there is the occasional ‘ting’. These sounds are from our new kitchen lights. They are hanging lights that look like wonderful chrome teardrops. It would be honest to say that they are our pride and joy at the moment.

Fridge: Mworrr!

They work perfectly for what we wanted, which was over the counter down-lighting, but we have found that they are better than expected, for as they light the surface area perfectly they also emit a wonderfully soft light which makes the kitchen a wonderfully tranquil work environment. If I have one complaint about the lights it is that as they have long life energy saving bulbs they therefore have a slight delay and then a warm up period when first turned on before they achieve full brightness. But frankly the ‘tings’ make up for that.

Fridge: Murrr!

Light one: Ting

Light two: Ting, ting

Clock: Tick, tock, tick, tock

And as I concentrate on the sound of the clock it appears to get louder and then to recede. Louder, recede. And yet it still ticks on with a relentless beat as it wears away the day.

Fridge: Ayeeeearh morrr! As she warms to her theme

My laptop is blissfully quiet although every so often she sort of tinkles and clinks as the hard-drive decides on something it needs to remember and if I put my ear to her she is humming steadily like the thrum of distant bees at work in the forest.


Tinkle, clink

Tick, tock




And then

BLUNK! Crack! As the fridge seems to want to break itself apart, but remains as one unit luckily as I can only imagine the mess it would make if it shuddered to pieces spewing out its contents of beer, cheese, gone off prawns, pickles, mayonnaise and milk among many other things.

Tick, tock


Fridge: Mmmmmmm! Mmmmmm! Mmmmm!

Then from next door in the wall behind me, the very distant sound of feet walking up or down the steps – it is always hard to tell. But then I hear the clink of a key turning so I know that the person from next door is on his way out and the door scrapes open as it is hung quite badly and so drags across the marble step every time it is opened – which upsets me deeply as I know what damage it is doing to the marble every time it opens. Cutting a groove and quarter circular scratches deeper and deeper until the stone will be ruined.

Which reminds me of how I used to have to beg my mechanic to change the windscreen wiper every time he serviced the car as I could hear the exact same thing happening to my windscreen, which made visibility hazardous especially in the dusty summertime or the low-light sharp winter. Still, he was really only trying to save me money in the short term, and yet I already knew how true is the saying: A stitch in time saves nine.

‘Ting’ from light three

Eeeeeeeehahhhhooooeeeeemrawrrr! From the fridge

Vic and I love the fridge – I know it seems materialistic, but like the lights it is more than the sum of its parts for it is not only statuesque in proportion and not only keeps the beer cool and the eggs fresh but it also at times sings like a demented cat or makes us start so with its bunking and banking. We call it our pet fridge and have developed a great fondness for it, for the life it brings to our little house.

And now, even though I said I would not include outside sounds there is a mad jabbering of birds. I cannot work out if they are coming from fore or aft of the house and therefore they seem to meet somewhere in the middle and thus become a part of the House Sounds and so therefore I believe are justifiable in their inclusion.

When one climbs the stairs there is a whole series of creakings and gruntings for every single one of the steps makes a sound. Some much, much louder than the others and all completely different. Of course that is a sound that is made by movement in the house, not exactly the house itself.

As I move through the upper floor I pass my office with my harddrives purring and whirring. I pass the toilet and listen as the cistern plips or plops or sometimes sirrrrs! And then the ceiling – which has old wooden joists delights me with an involuntary creak and a pebble drops from the roof or perhaps the supporting wall within the attic space. It is a reminder that I must get the roof seen to in time as it is old and somewhat crumbling.

And so that is all of the sounds that our house holds at present, perhaps not that many, but definitely worthy. I walk back through the house and down the stairs again; creak, craaaack, cric and through the hall and into the kitchen where the clock ticks mercilessly on, never once losing its beat. I sit on the couch to resume my writing and my ankles crack a bit. Ah! Human sounds, now that is a totally different story.

P.S. photo is of one of our House Angels