Unspectacular February

Recordings and text by Paul Whitty (February 2019)

February 1st

In 2009 I contributed a project to Sound Diaries awkwardly titled Unspectacular February. We had just published a series of recordings from the first minute of 2009 full of fireworks, excitement, and new beginnings and so it seemed like we should follow this up with something from the everyday business of being. The result was a series of one minute recordings capturing the everyday activities of the kitchen – the sound of the dishwasher, kettle, fridge, toaster, cutlery drawer, microwave and the more distant sounds of the house – television from the next room, footsteps upstairs, the washing machine in the shed. I thought that I should mark the passing of ten years by doing this again. I’m in a different kitchen now but many of the objects are still the same.

The ideal way of presenting this would be to have the two recordings presented next to each other but, well, my filing system isn’t all it could be and so far I can only find six of the recordings from 2009. So here’s the first recording from 2019. I cleaned the dishwasher recently and for whatever reason the sound it makes has changed considerably.

(February 1st 2019 Dishwasher interrupted)

Here’s the second recording featuring the sound of the kettle warming up, the oven being opened and closed to replace one of the baking trays; and the sound of running water as I clean the sink. It’s all going on.

(February 2nd 2019 kettle, sink and oven)

Here’s the third recording of unspectacular february featuring the washing machine with some associated pipework and me peeling some parsnips. This is where it’s at.

(February 3rd 2019 washing machine and vegetables)

Here’s the fourth recording of unspectacular february featuring lightly bubbling porridge and me putting a decaying sock in the bin. Might retrieve it and make it into a floor cloth actually… This is the place to be.

(February 4th 2019 porridge bubbling, sock in bin)

Here’s the fifth recording of unspectacular february featuring pasta in a pan, the microwave and the extractor hood. Kitchen counterpoint.

(February 4th 2019 pasta on the stove, microwave, extractor)

Here’s the sixth recording of unspectacular february and after the hectic ‘all-in’ action of yesterday’s recording, here’s a return to our core unspectacular values. Today’s recording features opening and closing the back door, putting the recycling out and, well, that’s about it.

(February 6th 2019 the back door, recycling, keys)

Here’s the seventh recording of unspectacular february. There’s actually quite a lot going on here. Running water, a precariously perched laptop playing a pathology-lab-based-drama to itself, the cat looking for food and more. Not spectacular, but quite intense!

(February 7th 2019 the cat, running water, silent witness)

We’ve reached day eight of unspectacular february. The thunk of the kettle switch being depressed, the cutlery drawer, teabags being squeezed by a spoon. This is unspectacular central!

(February 7th 2019 kettle, teabags, computer keyboard)

We’ve reached day nine of unspectacular february and finally there really seems to be nothing much going on. You can hear the sound of me putting my car key back in the wooden box where we keep most of the keys and you might be able to hear some footsteps upstairs and me sitting on a sofa. Such excitement!

(February 9th 2019 putting the car key in a box, nothing)

It’s day ten and there’s certainly nothing spectaculr goingon in this kitchen although if you compare the dishwasher sound from day ten with the recording day one there’s definitely a change. Time eh!

(February 10th 2019 dishwasher, nothing happening)

February the 11th already, well only just, sneaking this in just before midnight although I made the recording this morning as Marvin our cat was eating his breakfast. The washing machine was sounding off too. Happy Days!

(February 10th 2019 Marvin eating his breakfast, washing machine sounding off)

February the 12th just back from work and it’s time to put the breakfast bowls and other detritus in the dishwasher, oh, and refill Marvin’s water. Hectic.

(February 12th 2019 Putting crockery in the dishwasher, filling marvin’s bowl with water.)

February the 13th and it’s that minute of calm between the boys getting into the car and me leaving the house to take them to school. The cat is eating and next door are having their gutters replaced. Suburbia.

(February 13th 2019 Marvin eating, someone hitting the guttering.)

It’s February the 14th already and this time i’m putting food-waste in the so-called ‘caddy’, taosting hot-cross buns and generally doing nothing.

(February 14th 2019 Hot-cross buns, food-waste, nothing)

It’s February the 15th now and this is pretty much a collection of sounds that have already been featured on unspectacular February but in a slightly different combination which is as it should be really.

(February 15th 2019 Putting stuff in the bin, the kettle, making tea – yeah, more of that…)

It’s February the 16th, it’s nearly midnight and I’m sitting on the sofa reading about the FA Cup 5th Round so you can hear me clicking on the track pad. The cat is here too. Spectacular.

(February 16th 2019 Track pad, cat purring, quiet.)

It’s February the 17th, and yes, I’m getting a bit behind. It’s exhausting this unspectacular business. Who knew that nothing much happening could be so time consuming. For the eagle-eared amongst you there ‘s the treat of hearing an apple fall onto cheap cermaic tiles in today’s offering. Don’t say we never do anything for you!

(February 17th 2019 tumble-drier at the end of the cycle, apple falling.)

February the 18th has arrived and I’m washing up, that’s right, actually doing the work and not relying on white goods but practising some sinkcraft! Folk skills!

(February 18th 2019 actually washing up.)

February the 19th is here and I’m making coffee, well, a pot of coffee rather than the substance itself. There’s rinsing stuff in the sink and everything…

(February 19th 2019 rinsing things, making coffee)

February the 20th is here and there’s some butternut squash and chick pea curry bubbling on the stove, the cat is looking for some food, and the usual activities of heating up water and operating the microwave are in full effect.

(February 20th 2019 Thai curry on the stove.)

February the 21st arrives and brings with it the sound of potatoes being sliced!

(February 21st 2019 Potatoes being sliced)

February the 22nd is here. The cat is eating, the kettle is boiling, the fridge is opening, the tea is brewing, oh, and I opened and closed the cutlery drawer too. Intense.

(February 22nd 2019 Cat, Cutlery Drawer, intensity)

February the 23rd is here. The cat is sitting on the sofa. Final Score is on in another room. The doors are open to the garden.

(February 23rd 2019 Doors are open to the garden)

February the 24th is here and nothing’s happening except the dishwasher, emptying the food waste, switching lights on and off.

(February 24th 2019 switching lights on and off)

February the 25th is here and there’s the breakfast stuff to tidy up, weetabix wrappers to dispense with, you know the sort of thing.

(February 25th 2019 weetabix wrappers being dispensed with)

February the 26th is here and I know this post isn’t meant to be about the weather but it’s warm, seriously warm. Double doors are open and there are birds singing. In the other room Stan is on the x-box.

(February 26th 2019 birdsong, Stan playing x-box, nothing)

February the 27th has arrived, the unspectacular is here for the penultimate time. There’s sweeping, piano practice, the television – standard.

(February 27th 2019 piano practice, sweeping, the usual)

It’s the final day of unspectacular February. I’m sitting on the sofa catching up with yesterday’s recording, the tumble-drier is switching itself on and off, I’m tapping at the laptop keyboard, there is nothing happening except the sound of nothing happening.

(February 28th 2019 nothing happening)