I have banged on a lot in the past about the sheer racket we now have to tolerate, and this week saw my cause taken up with quite a bit of vim and vigour by the national press. Many sonic irritants were catalogued. Piped music was one mentioned. I find this a major misery even at low volumes if the piping is of that diabolically bland soft jazz, or some whining folkies.
Other factors? Uncontrolled children. People shouting on mobile phones*. The clatter of tableware. This is exacerbated by the modern trend for minimalist furniture and carpetless flooring, so there’s no sound damping.
Noisy coffee machines. Never had a problem with these, if I’m honest, but they clearly irk some people, including the columnist Carol Midgeley. This week she came out of a metaphorical closet and plucked up the courage to mention The Truth That Dare Not Speak Its Name. Her contention is that the worst sonic polluters are groups of women out on the lash. She has my full support on this one.
Before the feminists start to hunt me down, let me elaborate. I know blokes can be a bit lairy after a few sherbets. Many blokes already don’t have a volume control with a mute switch, and the noise increases in direct proportion to the amount of grog consumed. My Scottish acquaintance Brian falls into this category. If a group of Essex Young Farmers comes into my local, that’s a good time for me to leave, because they’re already complete arseholes when they arrive, and become noisy complete arseholes as they fill up with beer.
As Ms Midgeley points out though, the row that women make is much more intrusive, largely because as they work their way through the Prosecco, they tend to laugh inordinately. This is fine and dandy, nothing at all wrong with laughter. But by the time the ninth Peach Bellini has arrived on the table, the laughter tends to turn into shrieking and cackling as if they’re auditioning for a role in Macbeth. It’s earsplitting.
I was once in a relatively posh venue, and there was a group of women in the restaurant. The gin and the Pinot Grigio began to get a grip, and they became increasingly raucous. When the ribald laughter got too much, I left.
They’d all been on their phones looking at dating sites. I’d be tempted to issue PSPOs to stop them doing that.
*I can see the case for a return of hanging for people who the speakerphone option for no sodding reason at all!