Noises in the head - a short story
A 'T" Class British Submarine of the 1950s
The noise was driving Bert crazy. There was no escape
Bert Jacobs noticed the noises in his head as soon as he stepped out through the front door of the Rose and Crown. The sounds came as a sort of rhythmic hammering, rising and falling in regular monotony. It was a pattern of noise that went on and on and on. Within a few minutes it was driving Bert crazy. After a few hours it was causing such agitation he could hardly bear it. Thoughts of suicide occurred. It was that bad.
"These pills should fix it." They didn't.
Bert’s wife told him it was the whisky. “I never drink spirits,” he griped. “Just had t-bone steak and a couple of pints.” His missus wasn’t sympathetic. But he was hardly listening to her. The dreaful noise was just going on, and on, and on. Sometimes it seemed his very temples were rising a falling to its rhythm. “Oh, God! My head’s gonna burst!”
The next day Bert went to his doctor. “Take these pills, they should fix it.” They didn’t. He went back. This time the doctor shone a light in Bert’s eyes, his ears, and got him to hold out his tongue. The medico made a few grunting noises as if he knew what he was up to. He wasn’t. So his only recourse was to refer our hero to a specialist. An ears, nose and throat man perhaps
Tall antennas often signal lots of power
Even Harley Street was baffled.
The visit to the local ears, and nose and throat specialist did no good either. This learned gentleman referred our lad on to a fellow in Harley Street. Bert took the long train journey down to London. In turn, this highly-rated specialist consulted with his peers. It seemed no one could diagnose the problem. It was shortly after this, on his return from London that Bert, who was now at his wits end, decided the best way to deal with this problem was to drink himself into oblivion. He’d drown the noise with drink. That’s when he ran into the sailor down at Rose. Normally, sailors didn’t come in here much. Too close to the naval base.
The hand manipulated Morse Key
"I got this bloody noise in my head, mate."
“I got this bloody noise in my head, mate,”
“Yeah? What sort of noise?
“A rhythmic noise; rises and falls over and over again.
“Dah dah, dit dit…dah dit,dit,dit…dah,dit, dit dah, dah dah dit dit.”
“Say that again,” said the salt.
So Bert repeated it. It was easy enough to do. He just had to follow its sounds in his head.
“When did it start? Asked his companion. His newfound sailor friend was really taking an interest.
“Well, about the time I came out of this very pub. It might have started earlier, but I didn’t notice it because of all the noise in here that night.”
"Gimme the boats." Most naval ratings prefer small ships
"How did you say it goes again?"
“Yeah? The rising inflection seemed to infer the sailor might be on to something. “You live locally?”
“Yeah. I live here in Rugby.”
“Rugby…Well, I never. And it goes Dah dah, dit… The sailor repeated the sounds as though he’d learned it by heart, and very quickly at that.
“Do you know that the Royal Navy has a submarine broadcasting station right here at Rugby? They broadcast on very low frequency - 28 kilocycles. Yeah, that power plant puts out hundreds of megawatts. Blimey, mate. The power that transmitter put out the livens the wire fences for miles around the place. Even the lights wink on an off.”
“Yeah,” said Bert, not that interested, for the noise had not abated one bit
“And you say that the noise started when…?”
A River Class Frigate of WW2 Vintage
"Noticed it first when I came out the pub."
“When I came out the pub. Broke one of my tooth fillings in there on a piece of bone. Bloody tooth ache I thought…at first.”
“That’s it, old cock. I’m a radio telegraphist. That noise your hearing in your head is the Rugby submarine broadcast. Every message they send out starts with GBXZ, the sound you just described to me. Well, I never. You’ve become a radio receiver, mate. When you broke that tooth you started to pick up the broadcast. Yer whole head’s a bloody wireless receiver!”
The sailor stood back, smiling, and clapped his hands by his sides. Then he made a few Morse code sounds which sounded awfully like what Bert had been hearing in this head for weeks.
“See the dentist, mate. Get that ruddy tooth either filled or pulled.”
And so this is what Bertie did. And the good news was that the moment that the tooth was yanked, the dreadful noises stopped as if someone had turned off power to a steam-hammer in Bertie Jacob’s head. Later, Bertie went back to the Rose and Crown to tell his story. But from that day on he studiously avoided T-bone steaks, or anything which might damage his remaining fillings.
More on the writer
- Tom Ware Public Speaking The Prince of Storytellers
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