If you hear or feel a sudden bump in the middle of the night, it can certainly give you a fright.

You leap out of bed and might cry out: “What the heck was that?”

Did a meteorite land on the roof or did a big truck drive into the side of your building? You just never know what a sudden bump in the night might be.

Over the holidays, a group of people were having a discussion about house noises. All houses and buildings have such noises and some can certainly be a little loud or nerve-wracking. One night, our water heater cracked and there was an incredible sound of rushing water until I ran down to the basement and turned the water off. I had the same thing happen when I lived in a trailer in Northlands.

However, to turn the water off, I had to throw on my winter clothes, go outside and shovel snow away to get to the access hatch of the crawl space. I then had to lay down, reach in and turn the valve off underneath. At -30 C, it wasn’t much fun. This prompted me to get the plumber to install a valve inside the trailer where I could turn the water off. Here is a revolutionary thought: all buildings should have accessible and clearly marked valves to turn off water, power and fuel. They should have them outside and inside. Just in case.

The talk of noises in the night reminded me of an old Scottish ditty I had read as a kid — one which I quite liked because it’s humorous, ironic and one to think about. It was written long before electricity had been discovered when any light you got at night came from the moon, the glow of a fire, candles if you could afford them, oil lamps or burning torches. So, the dark of night was much more of a scary thing back then.

“From ghoulies and ghosties,

And long-leggedy beasties,

And things that go bump in the night,

Good Lord deliver us.”

Ghouls are indeed pretty scary. They could be humans with an obsession with death and really gross things. Or they could be sort of supernatural beings, a lot like zombies. So, one really didn’t want ghoulies or ghosties hanging about. The long-legged beasties still puzzle me and, despite a lot of research on it, I have yet to find a good explanation of what a long-legged beastie is or why they are more frightening than say, a short-leggedy beastie.

To start with, a beastie usually refers to some sort of mammal but can, on occasion, refer to insects, fish, birds or any critter. So, I went through a list of critters found in Scotland and none seemed all that terrible to be included in this poem. I thought long and hard about this. Maybe, just maybe, they were referring to humans as long-leggedy beasties because humans unfortunately attack and kill other humans, more than any other beastie on this planet — unless you were to include very small microorganisms. But things like germs, viruses and bacteria hadn’t really been known about back then. Someone had to invent the microscope for us to even see them.

When the bump in the night is followed by a thump, crash, smash and the sound of breaking glass, chances are it’s a human trying to break in to rob you. If one were to try and write a little chant for today’s world, I wonder what it would say. Perhaps something along these lines:

From politicians, statisticians, and bureaucrats,

From viruses, germs, two, four or six-legged beasties long or short,

And from things that make strange frightening noises in the night,

Whether they be mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, astronomical or atmospheric,

Please protect us!

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