HOUSE MUSIC

Mr. Sharpe’s house sat alone in a peaceful valley, away from the rest of civilization. It was built into a hill. That is to say, it appeared to have grown out of the hill. The front of it was erected on pillars, and the living area sat on top of them, about 15 feet from the ground. It was a beautiful, imposing building, although not large.

I was standing nearby when I heard the window smash, followed by a cascade of shards of glass which tinkled on impact with the paved ground below. A table appeared in the gaping hole where, a few moments before, a sheet of glass had been. At a push from unseen hands, the table toppled out uncertainly, gathering confidence before landing on the paving slabs below, accompanied by the cacophony of splintering timber.

As I watched in fascination, a fridge appeared in the space, only to speedily follow its wooden predecessor. It crunched and buckled as it hit the deck. The door fell off, and lay defeated beside it.

I sat down at a safe distance, to enjoy the show. Next to arrive was a drawer full of china, which flew up satisfyingly as it made contact with the corner of the fridge, before sliding down the heap and shattering. More drawers followed; full of cutlery, small electrical items, saucepans packed with food from the fridge and cupboards; tins, bottles and packages, each playing their unique part in the symphony, each having their own special sound, and yet each item influenced by what it landed on, and by how far it flew before settling. The kitchen units were not spared. They joined the growing heap of debris in front of the house.

And now, the kitchen must have been cleared, because black bin bags were appearing, to land with an apologetic whump, and split open, vomiting pastel shirts, dark woollens, crisp grey suits and white cotton underwear. Yet more clothing bounced out of oak drawers as they touched base. I saw ornaments, shoes, beds and bedding flying out of the window.

I wondered, if I closed my eyes, would I be able to tell from listening, what new thing had presented itself? Not wishing to miss any part of the show, I didn’t experiment with that idea.

I particularly appreciated the sound made by the ceramic bathroom fittings as they crashed to the paving, their white fragments flying and skimming scratchily.

The TV was disappointing. I have heard that old-fashioned televisions explode. Sadly, state-of-the-art ones don’t. But it made a kind of music, as did the old-fashioned sound system, when its moment arrived.

The sofa knocked an exterior wall light off the wall, adding a subversive note. Its weight brought the whole orchestra to life beneath it. It was sturdily made, and didn’t break. Neither did the armchairs, which rebounded off the sofa to cuddle together beside it.

After the big pieces of furniture had been dispatched, the valley became quiet. There were no other houses for miles, and visitors were not encouraged. I thought about Mr. Sharp. Times had changed. These days, he was a recluse, but he was taking a rare holiday, and at this moment he was on a plane bound for Slovenia.

That he ever claimed to be a music teacher was a travesty. When we were students, he mocked and derided our music. Although angered and hurt by his attitude, we hadn’t given up, and now we’re the biggest name in contemporary music. We’re hailed true artists who’ve brought music out of the dark ages and made it real.

The rest of the band are taking some time off while I work on this project. I find satisfaction in the knowledge that it will be one of our cheaper productions. The only expenses were the ‘prize’ of the holiday, that we had to pay a teaching organisation to present to Mr. Sharp, and the workmen to carry out the job. They’re coming out of the building now.

I switch off and pack up my portable recording equipment, and we get in the van and drive off.

All that is left for me to do now is the creative bit: make the sound into music. I think I may call it ”Sharp House.”

© Jane Paterson Basil

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