Noise is one of my pet hates. Nay, the top of my list of pet hates. Nay, it passes even that.

I have already referred to it in passing in connection with midges, being a townee and cover versions or reporting on whales. Sooner or later I naturally intended to write a proper blog about it, pouring out the frustration from the strain it puts on my life. I really can’t fall asleep when I hear a TV playing unless I’m quite knackered, fully concentrate on a pub conversation when a jukebox plays and so forth and so forth. (Funny thing, it’s not the volume but the kind of noise that decides how much unbearable it is. I definitely can fall asleep in a room overlooking a street with high traffic; turn on a radio, ever so low, and I’m in trouble.)

Incidentally, this is also the reason why this blog about the counter-productivity of using genuine telephone recordings, street noise and similar things for learning a foreign language had little appeal to me. Nìall Beag states: ‘In a real-life situation, we can filter out street noise quite effectively.‘ Well, I’m afraid I usually can’t. In whatever language, my input into a street conversation consists largely of repeating the word ‘Pardon?’

The other day I saw somebody else write the blog for me. Julian Treasure published in the Caledonian Mercury an article named Turn it down a bit: sodcasting and the annoyance of noise which more or less describes all my grievances. The despicable custom of pop music being continuously broadcast in shops and such-like places, people shouting into their mobiles in public transport, car stereo systems at full blast, TV on so loud as to make sure all neighbours hear it – it’s hard to say whether either Mr Treasure or myself could make an exhaustive list, but he names the main perpetrators and gives you the general idea.

He also mentions an organization called Pipedown, which ‘has been formed to counter one of the under-recognised scourges of contemporary life: music piped or relayed around a building or room which people have not chosen and which they may not be able to escape – involuntary music, forced on listeners’. Now these are my people. I wish them every success, for my own sake and for the sake of others like me. They won’t let you smoke in an enclosed place so you couldn’t do damage to other people’s lungs &c; why do they let them damage your nervous system &c making noise?

I have mentioned in one of those earlier posts that I don’t understand the noise-makers’ motives and offered an attempt to drown out their thoughts or their lack of thoughts. The author comes up with a different two: lack of listening and lack of empathy. Both ring true to me. Sadly though, I don’t put much faith in the solution he proposes: to ‘teach our children how to listen properly to the world, and especially to each other’. How do you teach your children a quality you have lost yourself?



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