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Three emergency vehicles whizzed past me yesterday, all within an hour of each other. The noise is hideous, though I know it’s necessary. The first siren made me wince. The second made me wince and shut my eyes. The third made me feel nauseous.  Each turned my stomach over. I don’t know how I can explain that certain sounds cause me pain. Some even make me angry, which is very strange.

Last year, my central heating was playing up (as usual), involving the pilot light in the boiler going out. As the system runs according to the temperature registered by a thermostat – ie it turns on when the temperature in the house drops below a certain level, and turns off when it’s above), it did not turn off. I didn’t realise this at first: all I could hear in my peripheral hearing was a low, very quiet humming noise (the pumps vibrating against the pipes, a sound usually insulated by the water in the pipes). It actually made me angry. It was so weird. It made me feel like I was going mad. I started becoming irritable and snappy before I realised what was happening. I turned the heating off altogether for a while, then relit the pilot light (it wasn’t that cold) to rest my ears.

They were overwhelmed by this noise that wasn’t even audible to the other people in the house. I was the only one to notice it and it made me feel sick, angry and slightly insane.