I can’t remember which of the X-wing books it was in, but there was a bit where a character aboard a new Star Destroyer talks about the ‘baby’s squeal’ coming from the engines. It’s a sound that burns away as the vessel gets worn in, replaced by a reassuring hum. ‘New car smell’, but at sci-fi scale.
I was aware that it had to be based on a thing – maybe a car thing, maybe a naval term – but wasn’t conscious of it personally until I bought my Brompton. When I got that (her, sometimes, but most often it), the bike felt sharp. Sharp but silent. Over time the ride got softer, but a clack and squeak replaced the silence of the ride. It became a reassuring mutter.
Today marked my first punture. Quite a bad one – whatever it was tore the rear wheel open a bit – so in she went for a service. And now the silence is mostly back, along with most of the sharpness. The journey home was a much less comfortable ride than I’ve had all summer, to be honest.
And I remembered that ‘baby’s squeal’, the comforting sounds of things just working. Protesting a bit, perhaps, but mostly working. Is there a word for that?