It's one thing if your lover offers sonorous snores that make your nerve-endings vibrate like a schizoid rattler.
It's quite another if you're being kept awake by a humming noise that isn't coming from your bed, nor from that of any other bed in the neighborhood.
The residents of Woodland, County Durham--far up in the north of England, where beer remains a food group-- are being driven entirely bonkers by a low humming noise that has rattled through their neighborhoods and lives for the past two months.
The way the Telegraph tells it, residents of the tiny little village, who number around 300, are losing their tiny little minds.
They speak of a sound that is like a car engine. They speak of it suddenly filling their ears from midnight to 4 a.m. every night. They speak of beds shaking and strange, balding shadows creeping through their rhododendron bushes.
Yes, I exaggerate about the last part, but only because it hasn't happened. Yet.
The villagers say they have eliminated any obvious suspects, such as electricity pylons (there aren't any), mines that have been left to their own devices, or retired engineers from Google. Wait, it is I who have eliminated that last possibility, on the basis that Woodland just isn't big enough for a retired engineer from Google.
The Telegraph quoted a retired store detective and resident, Marylin Grech, who said: "It's not tinnitus, that's a high pitched sound and this is very low. If I put my fingers in my ears it stops, so I know it's not in my head."
The local council is reportedly throwing some resources into investigating this mystery. I am not sure whether they have yet called upon Mulder and Scully, but I believe that Gillian Anderson is currently a resident of the United Kingdom, so she won't have very far to go.
Naturally, there will be those who immediately leap to the conclusion that all this humming and hah-ing smells of a movie producer's involvement. There is currently no evidence for this.
I have an alternative hypothesis.
The British government is concerned that its citizens' stiff upper lips are sagging. They are worried that the very things that once made Britain so great have been eroded by an excessive enthusiasm for narcotics, talent shows, and scandals involving wretchedly unfaithful soccer players.
Ergo, the government decided to strike a little fear into a small subsection of the populace to see how it might react. It wants to see just how much true Brits can stomach before they finally lose their equilibrium and revolt.
I feel sure that this is just a dry hum. Many more British villages and towns will, very soon, be experiencing noises in the middle of the night that they will never be able to explain.
The result, though, will surely be a re-activation of true British resolve in the run-up to the financial disaster that will be the 2012 London Olympics.