Ghosts in the Domestic Machine


You open your eyes

startled by the sudden shift from dreamworld to waking world

bright lights and harsh sounds flood your senses

your ownership of a physical vessel with all its aches and pains makes itself felt

gravity can feel strongest in the morning

you adjust

you must continue

it is too late to turn back

you roll out of bed

throw on some clothes (or not)

make your way to the kitchen

(attempting not to trip over the cat who has decided now is the time to weave between your wonky legs)

you pick up the kettle

fill it up

with just enough water for a cup of brew to get you buzzing

so that you can get started with

the rest of the structure of your day

somewhere through the process

you notice that your kettle may need descaling

(this may be something particularly British, where the water is hard and limescale forms wherever water drips and collects)

and in the haze of an early moment

the limescale inside the kettle

seems to form shapes

like clouds on a wistful day

creating ghosts in the domestic machine

a shrouded figure

looming over

the silhouette of a man with a pointy chin (or a Ming the Merciless beard)

framed by halo upon halo

of particles collected and connected


“I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of uncertainty about different things, but I am not absolutely sure of anything and there are many things I don’t know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we’re here. I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t feel frightened not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without any purpose, which is the way it really is as far as I can tell.”
― Richard Feynman



4 thoughts on “Ghosts in the Domestic Machine

  1. Hard water is not just a British thing. In the house where I grew up, not just tea kettles, but faucets and hot water tanks would need periodic de-scaling. Enjoyed your post.


    • Thank you very much!

      When I first moved into my home I descaled the toilet cistern as it looked a bit like a limestone cavern, and didn’t realise that the flushing mechanism was being held together by the limescale which had formed around it. It is rather fascinating stuff, very tough and yet also brittle.


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