Richard Hearn calms the baby with housework
Housework stresses me out. In fact, just the thought of housework stresses me out. Which makes it all the stranger that New Baby finds the hoover calming. Sometimes just turning it on will stop him crying. Thing is, he’s not crying because of the dust – he’s not a clean freak who‘s noticed a small mark on the floor. No, the sound echoes being in the womb, so presumably it takes him back to calmer, safer days when he wasn’t out in the big, bad world. (To me, the reason why the world is bad is because of chores like hoovering, and you realise it’s big when you try and clean it).
“I’ve been looking for George Harrison’s famous solo album – this would produce a state of bliss if I could only find it”
This hoover effect is a well-known phenomenon with babies. It also explains his love of the extractor fan above the hob. The loudest setting is the one that does the same calming trick, even though it’s like standing by a jet engine. Sometimes, as the icing on the cake, I put the little light on above the cooker, although goodness knows how that links in with the whole womb thing. These good vibrations – this household appliance alchemy – turns a screaming baby into a peaceful one.
Something else calms him down. Or I should say, ‘Something’ calms him down. The song, that is, sung by The Beatles, written by George Harrison. He does like other Beatles tracks, but only the ones penned by Harrison. ‘Here Comes The Sun’ is another favourite. He genuinely seems to be able to make the distinction between writers. I’ve been looking for my copy of All Things Must Pass, George’s famous solo album. This would produce a state of bliss if I could only find it.
Another calming influence is a charcoal drawing of a cat in a glass frame that we have on our living room wall. The picture is not as twee as it sounds, but that‘s another story. Wherever he is, New Baby cranes his neck to see this image. Just as they say, with some portraits, that the eyes follow you round the room, so New Baby’s eyes are always aimed at the black and white cat, as if attached by invisible string. When we’re elsewhere and he’s upset, The Boy sometimes helpfully suggests “I think he’s looking for a picture of a cat.”
Occasionally, he’s calm when looking up at me and I can imagine I’m held in the same esteem as these other household objects. I’m wrong, though. He’s confused by my glasses, made of that same shiny, see-through stuff they put in front of pictures. When he’s trying to see through their reflective surface, he’s mistakenly contented because he thinks he‘s about to be rewarded by a picture of a cat.