We've all heard it. The noise in the night that causes you to wake up and wonder if your imagination is playing tricks.
Or could it be a burglar? Not just any burglar, but a six foot tall bloke with biceps like balloons and evil intent in his heart. Not the sort of chap to reason with.
“There's no money in the house but the TV is fairly new. Shall I help you carry it to your van? Or you could take my car, if you want. I'll get the keys.”
Oo-er. What do you do?
According to research from home security company Yale, 25% of men pretend to be asleep so they don't have to get up and investigate. A tenth said they were too scared to go and look and 20% said they would send their wife.
“Have you seen her in her curlers and face pack? Enough to scare anybody.”
Personally, I can't let a strange noise go without investigation. If I try to ignore it, the possibilities get more extreme in my mind. I run through scenarios of meeting the burglar half way up the stairs and knocking him back down and through the front door with a well delivered Kung Fu kick.
Not that I have ever practised Kung Fu and would probably strain my clack in the attempt and, if the kick was successful, the chap would probably kill himself in the fall and I would be charged with manslaughter.
The mind is a wonderful thing, particularly when running rampant in the night, so I always get up and go and look, turning on every light in the house on my way until we're lit up like Blackpool Illuminations.
I used to pick up something to use as a weapon but no longer bother. If it's a violent burglar, he'd probably take it off me and hit me with it. Best to pretend old age and poverty.
Anyway, I tell myself, it's probably Casper the cat from next door, who has a habit of sneaking in when you're not looking, and kicks up a fuss when he wants to get out again.
It never is Casper. It never is anyone.
But I'm always relieved when I get back in bed with the lights off again knowing the house is secure.
“Where've you been?” my wife Maria might say, still half asleep.
“Killing a burglar.”
The compact cassette has celebrated its 50th anniversary. Philips launched it in Europe at the Berlin Radio Show in 1963, changed for ever the way we listened to music, and struck a lot of people dumb.
Until then, recording anything at home involved a reel-to-reel tape machine with spools as big as pram wheels. You couldn't compile your own favourite song list and take it to parties. Back in the 50s and early 60s, you had to take 45s and LPs and play them on a Dansette. And at the end of the night, you went through all the records everyone had brought to find the ones with your name on.
The cassette and compact tape recorders changed all that.
Albums came on cassette but everybody still had a record collection and youngsters would sit in their bedrooms, painstakingly recording discs onto tape in real time, hoping their mother wouldn't open the door and say “Tea's ready” halfway through Sweets For My Sweets and ruin it with extraneous noise.
Cassettes and portable players made music a moveable feast. New cars soon had in-built players as optional extras. Just think. Stereo Beatles in your Mini Minor.
The format did not totally catch on because a cassette was much less substantial than a long playing record that had the space for sleeve notes and illustrations. Many continued to buy the vinyl and make their own cassette recording from it.
When they were replaced by compact discs – also launched by Philips in 1982 – whole collections became obsolete.
How times have changed. Now you can create your own play list of hundreds or thousands of your favourite pieces of music direct from the internet onto a variety of electronic devices and take them anywhere.
As for being struck dumb, the cassette recorder was probably the first time many people had the opportunity of recording their own voices and discovering they sounded like prats. I know I did. The experience struck me dumb for a good 30 seconds.