Phantom Noises

Whenever I return to the old birthing grounds of Dudley in the West Midlands, things usually feel familiar yet oddly different around my mum and dad’s house. Sometimes this is because things really are a little different to how I last saw the place in that new ornaments or fixtures have been bought while old ones have been put away or thrown out. Other times things just seem unfamiliar in a completely untangible way due to my not living here any more, returning only once every few months for the sake of familial adherence.

Late this evening, while reading my late Great Uncle George’s copy of Under the Greenwood Tree in my old bedroom with the window open, I heard a noise from outside which sounded exactly like the noise a child’s bicycle might make when coming to a halt down in the street. It was the sort of dull squeak of breaks unique to those making contact rubber tubes of a junior Raleigh. I don’t know if I’ve ever actually heard the sound of a child’s bike coming to a stop from this room before but that was the answer brought forward after a superfast consultation with my brain’s acoustic database.

The sound, of course, could not have been a child’s bike. The time, after all, was drawing up to 2am. No one would be out cycling at this hour let alone a kidiwink. No. When the sound occurred a second time, I realised that it had in fact originated from the weather vane.

The weather vane has been mounted in that same place – on the kitchen chimney outside my bedroom window – since I was about eight years old. It is in the shape of a witch riding upon a broomstick and was made by my grandfather. For the last ten years or so the vane has squeaked. So why now did I not recognise what was once a strikingly everyday occurence, confusing it insead for something I’d probably never heard of in my life?

My Honours Degree in Psychology invests me with the authority to declare: “The human brain is weird”.

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