Some people write in silence. I’m writing this post listening to the bawdy racket that is Unheilig. There is noise and there is noise. Noise we can hear and noise we can ignore. Noise is a weird thing in that it can be deafening and unheard or quiet and infuriating.
I’m suffering from a third type of noise at the moment: a combination of deafening and infuriating and try as I might, I can’t find where the noise is coming from. All I know is that the noise emanates from somewhere near the rear wheel of my car.
Driving along now includes a low pitched whining noise with an accompanying harmony that sounds like a distant theramin. Driving above 20 mph is like being trapped in a terrible science fiction film.
The problem is I don’t know if the car has always sounded like this. I worked in an office for two years where I was sat underneath a wall-mounted cabinet containing the servers for the computing system. The cabinet hummed and hissed, chuckled and bleeped, and people would come in and say to me ‘how the hell do you put up with that noise?’ The asnwer was I couldn’t hear it; it was a background hum I had grown used to.
Part of me suspects the current car noise is the same noise I heard when I picked up the car about two months ago. I was used to driving a quiet petrol engined Mazda and now I was in a diesel engined Renault. Small car, small tyres, big -unsoundproofed tyre roar. The car was a devil, but I became accustomed to the noise over time, until about three weeks ago.
Tracking the noise, isolating the source, is like trying to pin down the kingpin in an organised crime syndicate. A couple of years ago the house became haunted by a phantom trumpet player. This lunatic didn’t play complete musical compositions, but the occasional dissonent note when you least expected it. I eventually identified the source of the noise as a hole in a sheet of plastic over a bathroom window. If the window was open the wind would blow across the hole and we’d get a ghostly F major for about two seconds.
Most noises in the house are plumbing. Get the water pressure wrong and it’s like living with the London Philharmonic when they’re warming up. Whenever we flushed the toilet or ran a bath our house was like World War Three until a ballcock in the main tank was replaced. (The resulting leak ruined a perfecly good Toshiba laptop.)
Yesterday, I emptied the boot of the car, changed a tyre, cleaned out the wheel arch, and still the noise persists. It isn’t mechanical; the noise is only there when the car is moving and grows louder as the car moves quicker, so there is some vibration at a certain frequency coming from some part of the wheel structure at the back.
Tomorrow, I’ll be going down to my mechanic for help and hope he doesn’t say it’s normal/it’s nothing/it’s your imagination. It’s driving me nuts. As all noises eventually do.
Does noise bug you? Do you know what the noise coming from my car might be?
*update – My mechanic thinks the noise might be a wheel bearing. The car is booked in for next Wednesday, so expect to hear another noise: my ghostly groaning when I get the bill.