Monday, March 16, 2009

ghosts in the machine

Has it ever occurred to you, in all seriousness, that your house is about to explode? It has occurred to me.

Ever since a spate of drilling on the other side of kitchen wall, a few months back, resulted in my kitchen cabinet crashing to the floor in the middle of the night, I have been wary of DIY-related sounds from adjourning flats. Last night I was just putting on my coat and clambering down the stairs to my front door, about to head out and into town for the pub quiz, when I heard a very loud power-drilling noise emanating from somewhere within my flat. Irritated and curious, I nipped back upstairs to locate the origin of the sound, and was thoroughly befuddled to find it at its loudest in my bathroom – which is not adjoined to any neighbouring rooms. I couldn’t work it out. Either someone was drilling up through the floorboards, or down from the roof.

It was really loud. I did another circuit of the flat. Back in the bathroom, I listened hard to the noise. It sounded a touch too loud to be a power drill – it was a real, rattling, whirring hum, insistent and sinister, like an enormous, malevolent mosquito. Where was it coming from? I walked over to the sink, where the noise was loudest. Was it my water pipes? I leant over and placed my hand on one of the taps, and felt it vibrating menacingly. I began to feel quite concerned, and dashed back into the living room to look at the boiler. It seemed absolutely fine, but I turned it off just in case.

I returned to the bathroom. The whole sink appeared to be shaking, as if it might uproot itself and start stamping across the room. I didn’t know what to do.

It’ll stop of its own accord, I told myself – I’ll just head out. I put my coat back on and walked down the stairs. I stood at the door. What the hell was that noise?

It was at that point that I realised that my flat was going to blow up. I ran back up the stairs and looked at the sink. Listened to the noise. And then I reached down and picked up my electric shaver. The second it was removed from its contact with the tap, the drilling noise quietened, the sink stopped shaking. Moreover, the curious vibrating appeared now to be focused upon my hand. I pressed the off button, and the noise stopped completely.

It is deeply troubling that I am capable of being thoroughly outwitted by an electrical appliance.

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