Sunday, 9 June 2013

The Sound - on Bees, Badgers and Donkeys

I don’t mind a mystery, and I always rise to a challenge, but I’d prefer it not to be at 11.45 p.m. after a good dinner of seared cod and Jersey Royals followed by lashings of sumptuous conversation. 

Very soon after I got to bed, I noticed The Sound.  It was somewhere in the interstitial internodes between a terminally failing bumble bee trapped behind a Venetian blind, an irritated but bored lapdog in next door’s conservatory, and a constipated badger.  (I hasten to qualify that I can just about imagine the first two, but made up the third; funny the tricks your mind plays ‘round midnight.)  It went, roughly, “Brzz.  Brz-brz-brz.  (Pause.) Brzzzz!”  Or sometimes “Urmph-bzz.  Umph.  Bzz-umph-bzz.”  Then it would seem to be one side of a half-heard one-sided conversation between a one-sided drunken couple somewhere down the road: “Whad-umpya-bzzrfr?”   “Burmmm…”
I got up to look behind the blind and out of the window, and of course saw nothing.  And heard nothing either: whatever higher power was inflicting this mystery/challenge on me was several jumps ahead.  Eventually it seemed to stop, or I fell asleep, or both.

I raised it, just as a conversation point, like you do, over breakfast.  Opinions varied between worker bees in the soffits, a ventilator outlet flapping in the wind, and the donkeys for the next day’s Derby across the field.  The bees seem to be the most rational explanation, but I have a soft spot for the stabled donkeys.

The experience reminds me of when I was kept awake for hours in St Jean de Luz, in about 1992, by incessant thumping music from just outside the pension.  After an hour or so, assuming it to be some inconsiderate kids, I leant out of the window and shouted, in English, “For fuck’s sake, put a sock in it, will you?”, with precisely no effect.  Next day I discovered I’d been swearing at a disco at the sports field half a mile up the road.


  1. Could it have been just a single B?

  2. If it is the bees (or the B), I suppose it will happen again, so I hope it was the donkeys.

  3. Do donkeys Brzz?

  4. It definitely wasn't a B, I checked.

    Mago, I don't know what sound donkeys make where you are, but dogs sound different in every single language on earth. So do cats. I'm reminded of Flanders & Swann's observation about the noise chickens make in Greece, except that I can't remember it.

  5. "worker bees in the soffits"

    Not making that much noise, at night, methinks.

  6. Ah well, BW, must've been the bunged-up badger then.