Sebastian the Sparrow

We’ve been living in this house since 1986. It’s a fine house, but it’s full of weird unexplained noises. If I were superstitious I might write about the spirits that inhabit the old place, or how the building itself sometimes seems possessed of a restless soul. Talk about things that go ‘bump’ in the night! In this house, things go bump, rattle and bang, and not just at night, but at all hours of the day as well. In 1996 we sacrificed an old lean-to garage in order to add a granny flat onto the side of the house. My mother lived in there for a few years, and she often complained of loud noises like ‘tremendous explosions’. I have heard a number of these myself and have never been able to explain what causes them.

A lot of the sounds are bird noises. Countless generations of birds have nested happily in the shelter of our roof; we share the house with them and wish them no ill will. Apart from the birds that (still) nest in the attic, we have a family of starlings that sit on our roof spitting small purple seeds down our chimney with happy chirruping sounds. We have had magpies trapped in closed-off fireplaces, tip-tapping on the plywood sheeting to be let out, and the roof is a meeting place for all sorts — finches, jackdaws, rooks, collared doves, robins, to name just a few. We have a wood pigeon that sits in our trees and serenades us with her own special 18-coo tune. And the south west corner of the roof is home to a resident house sparrow called Sebastian who guards his piece of real estate noisily all day long.

Whatever all the unexplained sounds might be, I know they are nothing to worry about. And if the house itself or the spirits of previous occupants are responsible for some of the sounds, that’s okay too. I’m certain they are benign spirits.

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