“Sorry for Disturbing You” by Richard Knightdeals

Table of Content

Being alone is a choice that some people make willingly, whereas loneliness is a perpetual state that causes pain. When experiencing loneliness, you may feel a lack of belonging and appreciation from others. In its most severe form, it can even evoke a sense that nobody would notice if you were gone.

The text “Sorry for Disturbing You” by Richard Knight explores loneliness and the decisions one makes in life. The story is narrated in the third person limited perspective and takes place over the course of a single night. It begins abruptly with an elderly man named Michael Phelps, who has not visited a particular house for 22 years, knocking on its door. The narrator describes the chilling scene as Ian opens the door, with rain cascading down Phelps’ face (p.2, line 1).

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Despite being home alone with his daughter, Ian decides to invite in Michael Phelps, who appears to be very drunk. On his way in, Michael leaves a dark print on the bright yellow painted wall inside the door (p.2 line 23).

This gives the impression that the character is very dirty and unkempt. The dark print reappears later when Ian’s wife, Karen, returns home. Karen is currently staying at her mother’s house since she and Ian have some issues to sort out. While Michael is inside Ian’s house calling for a taxi, Ian begins to wonder about the identities of Edie and George. Michael had mentioned these two names earlier when he was waiting for Ian to let him in. Eventually, Ian discovers that Edie and George were the previous owners of the house and that Michael used to be close friends with George.

There is a lack of specific information about their past relationship. The details are cryptic, but it is apparent that they currently have no contact. It could be that Eddie is Michael’s daughter and married to George. Somehow, Michael has caused damage to their friendship, leading to an excessive use of alcohol. As stated on page 4, line 19, “It’s the alcohol you see. I should have walked her down the aisle you know”.

When the taxi arrives, the driver refuses to pick up Michael and relays a message to Ian stating, “I’m sorry mate. I’ve had him before. You’ll have to try someone else” (p. 4 line 88). Ian then calls George for assistance, but unfortunately, George cannot offer any helpful suggestions. This is when Ian truly begins to miss Karen.

The choices Michael has made earlier in his life have led him to this poor state where he feels abandoned and left alone. Ian does not want to end up like him so he calls for Karen and offers to drive Michael home when Karen has arrived at the house. When Karen arrives, she notices the black print on the wall, which Michael put on the wall when he stepped into the house: “… and saw Karen hugging their daughter, examining a dirty black mark on the wall” (p.5 line 152).

I believe the dark mark can symbolize the impact Michael has had on Ian’s life. Initially, it seemed like meeting Michael would be negative, but he ends up unwittingly helping Ian by reuniting his family and causing him to reflect on his relationship with his wife Karen. The conclusion suggests that Ian has become more cautious and thoughtful in his marriage. “He switched the television off, made two cups of tea and a glass of warm milk, and took the first careful steps up the stairs” (p.6 line 71).

The artwork titled “Loneliness” by James Dignan portrays a man seated on a bench, appearing solitary and desolate. His posture, with his head buried in his hands and gaze fixed on the ground, conveys a sense of loneliness and neglect, similar to the depiction of Michael Phelps in “Sorry for Disturbing You”. The use of various shades of grey, and particularly the inclusion of a dark grey frame surrounding the image, evokes a feeling of despair that we can also associate with Michael’s situation.

In his poem “Tears, Idle Tears,” Alfred Tennyson concludes each verse with the phrase “…the days that are no more.” Similarly, in discussing his past, Michael repeatedly expresses a longing for a time when he was healthy and sober, surrounded by fulfilling relationships rather than suffering from loneliness.

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“Sorry for Disturbing You” by Richard Knightdeals. (2016, Sep 01). Retrieved from


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