Friday, August 21, 2009

The curious case of the late night knocker.


By Andrew Culture

A couple of years ago had you been treated to a view of my living room on one particular December night you would have witnessed a scene not unlike most evenings in this the most softly furnished of rooms in my modest house. As on most dark winter nights I was recumbent with an improving book, cradling a nightcap of medium priced single malt, and gently contemplating this wild cosmos in which we dwell as a bewildered brotherhood.

The title of the text I was cerebrally betwixt nor the author are made available to my current self by my grey matter, for I am somewhat slowed by a brain that is infrequently willing to acquiesce to my requests for the finer details of times and events past. The episodes that loom larger in my life are neatly stored and are made readily available to me, but as for the finer details let’s just say my mind decides itself to be far outside the jurisdiction of the freedom of information act. Sometimes the finer details of my distant chapters do bubble to the surface, but rarely does this happen in a timely (or useful) fashion. If you were to require details on the book I was reading that distant eve I suggest you check back in with me after several Sundays have past, and if you’re lucky the details may occur to me. After I have furnished you with this information I would allow you a moment to wallow in your own informational futility, for the title and chapter is not of component level relevance to this tale.

Where was I? Oh yes, the curious tale of the late night knocker. I do recall the hour of this scene, it was a lazy shake past midnight and the street outside my abode gave up no more than the sound of the occasional passing car, and the even more occasional mumbling pedestrians. These sounds are the aural detritus that one must learn to tune out when living in a metropolis. I pay them no heed, and they continue ignorant of my reluctantly listening ear. Each sound is diminished by my windows and curtains, the sounds of even the closest passers by are gifted to me as feint and distant rumours. I focus this point so you may understand my considerable surprise when this moment of gentle relaxation was broken, and all restfulness stolen from me.

I was focussing on the middle distance contemplating a claim made in my reading matter, and slowly imbibing both knowledge and my warmed whisky when I was lifted from my revere by the brutal clank of the brass knocker on my front door being brought to bear upon its associate part, the sound striking business end if you will. I did not spring from my intellectual recumbence immediately; sour experience has taught me that some late night revellers derive bewildering amounts of entertainment from striking the door of each residence as they pass. Such is the curse of living in a terrace row without the advantage of a front garden, we are entirely lacking in that safety margin between the comfort of ones homestead and the brutality of anonymous mankind.

The brass knocker on my door was lifted and struck down again, with a firmness of action that made the intention of the perpetrator most clear to me. With a short shallow sigh I placed the string marker into the cleft of my book, found a steady seat for my whisky tumbler and lifted myself toward my living room door. Before I could reach the front door beyond the metallic hack of the knocker struck again, this did not improve me, nor did it work in the favour of the visitor if he was hoping to catch me at my benevolent peak.

With shoulders held broad and my corporeal self drawn up to my full and considerable height I unlatched my defences and opened the door. I was greeting by the gently swaying top of a chap about a foot shorter than I stood on the municipal pavement that meets the frontage of my house. Being a gentleman I allowed my visitor a moment to announce his intentions and collect his thoughts into a packaged request that I might consider. My visitor seemed a little surprised by my presence before him, a reaction betrayed by his raised eyebrows as he tore his attention away from a scruffy mobile phone he was fondling in his hands. I considered for a moment how the man before me failed to grasp the connection between his actions and their consequences – I imagine he must be delighted when he switches on a television and is granted the spectacle of the moving images that appear before him, like magical dancing spectres.

The squinting of his eyes as he glanced up at me made it clear this was the first time we had enjoyed the pleasure of each others company. Communication was not forthcoming from his side of this parley so growing tired of the vagaries of his presence I took it upon myself to open the debate. I was striding about halfway through my opening gambit when I was rudely interrupted,
“Let me in mate.”
I registered immediately my unwillingness to take this gentleman into the bosom of my household, but being gentle of heart I made enquires as to why he should be so keen to envelop himself in the warm glow of my hallway. Again those squinting eyes fired a glance of pure confusion and caught me a blow direct through my eyes and into my soul. Fortunately (I guess) it was no more than a glancing blow, the quality of aim being somewhat diminished by my unwanted guest’s obvious and deep held affection for intoxicating liquors.

For a brief moment my humanity demanded I invest a slice of empathy and concern as my interviewer attempted to steal himself some steadiness from my door frame. This transpired to be a foolish and ill-judged theft as the shoulder he had attempted to aim at the periphery of my aperture missed its mark and glanced from the accompanying wall. While this man may not have been either muscular nor cerebrally toned he was surprisingly elastic and bounced from the wall with the grace of a toppling tailor’s dummy. As he reeled backwards I feared I may have cause to practice long ago learned first aid skills. My fears (and memory) remained unchallenged as this tottering tool was caught by the broad side of a parked vehicle.

After a collection of deep sighs and slow sure shakes of his head (which didn’t help his balance much) this man renewed the force behind his request to be allowed access to my living quarters. Again I requested illumination on the details and reasoning behind this petition, and to my surprise he played what I feel sure he considered to be his ace card,
“Because it’s my house”.
I granted this wobbling Wally grave reassurance that I was deep within a contact with a lending bank that granted me the legal right to dwell within, but he was unbowed in his determination that I was in error.

The minor variations in wording, pitch and urgency from his quarter did little to save me from growing tired of this man’s society and I made a request of my own. With perfect diction and clarity I registered a request to be alone, a state I wished to be enveloped by within just a few ticks and an equivalent number of tocks. My unwelcome guest lowered his considerable eyebrows till they obscured the tops of his questioning eyes and took it upon himself to enter negotiations, the conclusion of which he considered of equal benefit to all parties. I rejected the offer of his mobile phone (should I allow him indoors) and with fallen shoulders this mystery knocker conceded defeat. With a sigh so deep passers by would search the skies for a falling hot air balloon he executed a ill balanced quarter turn and dismissed me with a lifted hand.

Before I closed the door I took a moment to ensure the craned neck and squinted eyes this man aimed loosely at the horizon would indeed result in his imminent departure, and in a shambling fashion it did. Just as the last slivers of orange street lights were banished from my hall way I heard the metallic strike of my neighbour’s door knocker. I decided my part had been played in this farce quite completely and returned to my position, book and whisky in my living room. The final dialogue of this scene was donated by my neighbour at great volume and with a succinct power that would leave nobody in any doubt to the strength of conviction voiced in his invitation for his unwanted visitor to seek procreation opportunities elsewhere.