SMOKE: Hidden Passageways For Sale

Originally published: 16 February 2006

If - like me - you were a voracious reader as a child, you probably read all sorts of books in which intrepid sleuths or gangs of super-bright children found hidden passageways in old houses.

I have a very emotional attachment to secret doors and hidden rooms, and since I've never had any of my own I have to conclude that my love for them stems from the childhood books I used to read.

The most topical example right now is the movie version of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I haven't yet seen the movie but I know all about the cupboard Lucy finds while playing hide-and-seek, which leads to the mythical, strange world of Narnia.

Don't come to me with your modern day Narnia bullshit, man - I was onto Narnia long before some commercial bright spark spotted the cash cow and rode it on the coattails of the Lord of the Rings trilogy all the way to Narnia and box office millions.

I can promise you one thing right now - the movie is nowhere near as good as the book. Fact. I don't need to watch it to confirm my bold statement.

I have such a clear image in my mind of that cupboard, and what the movie couldn't possibly convey is the smell of old hunting jackets and mothballs, which CS Lewis described so evocatively.

I loved the fact that a kid could hide in a cupboard, find a strange world, spend a lifetime in it and find their way back to the cupboard - only for their disappearance hardly to have been missed.

I dreamed of such cupboards. A lot.

I also read lots of Famous Five, Secret Seven and Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators stories, not to mention The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew.

Those books were filled with hidden doors and secret passageways that were built in the middle ages and long since forgotten. You have no idea how badly I wanted hidden passageways.

Now I can have them, thanks to a company called Creative Home Engineering, who have a website called rather appropriately - HiddenPassageway.com.

They describe themselves as "a registered contracting company that adds value to homes by integrating silent, automated hidden passageways."

These dudes install hidden passageways and secret doors in your home, starting from the ridiculously cheap price of $10 000.

I clicked on their Features link, and got the following:

Pull a favourite book from your library shelf and watch a cabinet section recess to reveal a hidden passageway.


Twist a candlestick and your fireplace rotates, granting access to a hidden room.

That's all I need to know. If I'd had 10-grand available I would have sent it to them immediately, just for the pleasure of knowing about them.

Next I clicked on their Security link, and found the following:

A thief cannot burglarize a room he can't find. Hidden doors and rooms provide safety in cases of emergency and peace of mind when storing valuables. Every measure is taken to ensure that our motorized features are secure from unauthorized entry and safe to operate.

All of our motorized passageways are designed with triple-redundant safety features including optical sensor arrays, overtorque protection, thermal sensors, infrared sensors and mechanical obstruction detectors.

Creative Home Engineering builds concealed features with security in mind. Biometric security devices like fingerprint scanners, optical imaging devices and voice recognition systems ensure the safety of valuables and loved ones.

Hey? Is that not the best thing you've ever heard in your entire, miserable life? How awesome is that?

I searched the web to find out if the site was a scam or a joke, but could find nothing to indicate that. It seems as though it really is a bona fide, legitimate business - one which installs secret passageways and doors in your house.

It's too much, man. I don't know what to do. All I want in my life from here on out is a secret passageway accessible only by a hidden door, with some cool gadget like a bookshelf or fireplace that opens it.

One of the Tintin stories - King Ottokar's Sceptre, if memory serves me correctly - features an underground Mayan treasure trove which you can only get into by pressing the eyeball of a large Incan statue.

That's what I'm talking about, see.

I also remember a book in which some large rock had to be pushed just so to make a hole in the mountain appear, and plenty in which ageing professors have reached for dusty tomes only for their bookshelf to swivel and a secret room to be revealed.

It's the stuff of fairytales, and some kind dude has made it real.

Dude - I know you're going to be reading this, as I'm going to send it to you using your site's Contact form. All I can say is thank you, although I don't live in the US and thus can't ever make use of your fine product.

You are a hero, sir. If nobody else's, then mine. I almost love you, man. In fact - I do. I love you so, so much.

Just imagine having a place that nobody else can find. For a career criminal like myself - who has plenty to hide - it's the greatest invention since impregnable islands. The cops rock up with warrants and moral indignation and you dart into your secret study, lighting up a stogie as you go.

Brilliant, man.

Since I have no valuables to hide my secret room would be a place where I can chill in solitude, knowing that no matter how hard anyone tries they won't ever find me. Even if they're not looking for me in the first place.

It's an adaptation of my hiding theme, which I have documented extensively over the years on this website. I need safe places to hide, and it doesn't come much safer than a revolving bookshelf and optical imaging devices.

In all the houses I've ever lived in I've dreamed of finding hidden rooms or secret basements - to no avail. Architects are singularly uncreative these days - what you see is what you bloody get, unfortunately.

The closest I got was a 150-year old house which was rumoured to have been built on the site of a hospital graveyard. I thought I might find some medical shit under the house and possibly a corpse or two clutching a priceless doubloon or ingot, but all I found was a lot of dark and even more cockroaches.

So if you can't find 'em - build 'em. Why the hell not?

All Smoked Out,
Luke Tagg
Spending time online does bad things to a person, but I'm OK.

Look at me now - all the way from Uitenhage to the bright lights of the big internet.

Find out more using the handy links provided.

Copyright © Luke Tagg. All rights reserved. A few lefts as well.

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