Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Knock knock

House with internal noisesWho's there? A ghost perhaps! I was alone in a building I know well. It was silent. Then I heard a loud single knock. I assumed something had fallen down in an adjacent room and went to investigate. Finding nothing out of place, I went back to my original position. A little later I heard the same single knock sound. Once again I investigated and found nothing to explain it. Maybe it was a haunting sound (see here for more on such sounds).

This time I decided to stay where the sound appeared to originate to see if I could hear it again. After a while, there it was. I now realised the sound was unmistakably coming from a fridge. Interestingly, it was a new fridge. I was used to the sounds of the old fridge it replaced and no longer really heard them at all. But the new fridge produced different sounds that appeared obtrusive.

This is a variation on the 'new house effect' (see here). Do you remember the last time you moved house (or flat)? Do you recall a moment when you woke up in the middle of the night in your new house, perhaps not quite sure where you were? Did you hear a distant knock or a loud creak nearby that caught you by surprise? Was there a shadow on the wall of your room that looked unfamiliar and even faintly sinister? This is the new house effect. Until you get used to the peculiar sounds and sights (and even smells) of your new house, they can seem a little disturbing, particularly in the middle of the night when the relative quiet outside can appear to magnify them. If the creaks and knocks are particularly loud and frequent it might even sound as though there is 'someone else' in the house with you. And if you're alone, that could lead you to think that the house is haunted.

What hadn't occurred to me until now is that even introducing some new item of equipment could set off a new house effect in an otherwise thoroughly familiar property. Anything that can produce noises without human intervention, like a fridge, could easily give rise to 'ghostly sounds'. It's not quite a case of a haunted object but certainly an object that can give the impression that a haunting is happening. Anyone investigating odd noises in a haunting case might consider checking if anything has changed in the physical environment of the affected premises recently.

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