Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Dark and scary

HWSNBN continues to be pleasant and friendly. On Monday we went for a drive in the hills, then he took me out for dinner. I had mussels and chips. We then went for a walk along the canal, and wondered about the presence of windlasses at the locks, and their padlockedness. We came to the conclusion that those using the canal must have a key to the padlocks, rather than a windlass (last time I went on a narrow boat there were no padlocks, but each boat came with one or more windlasses, to operate the locks).

I found the deep, dirty water rather disturbing and smelly. Although I would prefer not to be scared of deep water, and I pretend not to be, I am. I am not scared of smelly, scummy water, but I do not find it very pleasant. I don't think HWSNBN noticed, though, which was good. I think that sometimes* pretending that a fear does not exist will diminish it. Having suffered no ill consequences of being in the presence of the scary thing, sometimes the fear gets a little boring.

The most useful example of this comes from playing the organ. Organists do not always have an easy time learning their instrument. Churches can be cold and dark.** The church I learned to play the organ in was (and still is, in fact) very large. When the sun went down, this church could hold a lot of dark.

In order to use electricity efficiently, I was in the habit of only turning on the lights at the front of the church, where the organ was. This meant that, sitting at the console, I had a massive black space to my right. There were pews, balconies, staircases and passageways behind/in which anything could have been hiding. Anything could also just be sitting quietly in some dark space, waiting for me to look in its direction. Additionally, the organ itself was housed in a two-storey chamber in front of me. Between me and this chamber were two pieces of wood, one of which (the one directly in front of my face) could easily be moved by the hypothetical monster hiding in the organ. I tended to feel somewhat exposed.

Can you see how my imagination perhaps did not make it entirely easy for me to be alone in this large, dark building? I am so glad it was carpeted - had it not been, its scary factor would have been increased exponentially. Everyone knows that carpets repel all manner of scary things. Duh.

So, as you can imagine, I was not always entirely relaxed when doing organ practice alone in the dark. The worst experience I had was when practising during a storm. The building creaked; I had to turn the lights on, as I could hear things moving all over the church. There was an awful lot of church to creak.***

However, having experienced this, suddenly staying at home alone in the dark in my parents' large Victorian house was much less difficult (especially after they got a new carpet. This new one repels demons, the devil and psychopathic intruders. Alas, it is not so effective against little brothers jumping out at one in the dark). Staying in my tiny little house alone is very nearly easy. Except when the curtains are open at the back of the house, and anything could be lurking. It's not carpeted out there, you know. Or when the bedroom bin is not where I am sure I left it, and there is nobody else to blame. The bedroom carpet is obviously not powerful enough.

Practising at the Chaplaincy alone is great until the lights turn themselves on (I really hope they were on a timer, because I did not see anybody in the room with the light switches. I did wait a while before venturing in there, though; I didn't want to see anyone if they were there, and gave them plenty of time to leave (disapparate? No other way in, unless they were hiding upstairs in the secret room). But it has to be a timer switch, right? To make sure the chapel looks calm and friendly overnight. Yes, that must be it). Imagine how scary it would be encountering a being wishing to turn lights on. I bet that it leaves a trail of destruction and increased electricity bills wherever it goes.

See how level-headed doing organ practice in a large dark church has made me? Bombproof. I am so totally not crazy.

*Not always.

**One of my abiding memories of my old church's coldness was leaving it on a summer evening and being struck by how warm it was. Everywhere else was warmer inside than out, but not the church.

***Funnily enough, I didn't find it particularly scary when, in a different, more powerful storm, the top of the spire became detached (it was held in the appropriate position by gravity alone). This seemed to pose less of a threat than non-existent things in the dark. I am so rational.

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