Urrgh. And a post about noise.

Well, today was the first day I haven’t actually felt WORSE than the day before. Yay?

For all that, it was still Another Bed Day.  *sigh* And our solar hot water didn’t get installed yesterday because – THE PLUMBER WAS SICK! We’ve rescheduled for next Wednesday, just gotta hope that the weather doesn’t work against us.

Ricë wrote a post today about the intrusiveness of muzak.  I started a rant in reply in my comment on her post, but here’s some more rant:

I’ve been rabbiting on at various In Real Life friends about the new growth industry (no, Dustin, it’s not PLASTICS) – it’s audiology.  Seriously, every time I go to the shops there seems to be a new one offering hearing tests and ever smaller hearing aids.  I think Toowoomba is up to about 20, for a population of 90,000.  And do you know why?

I’LL TELL YOU WHY.

It’s because almost nobody can stand SILENCE any more. When and how did we become a culture that feels the need to be constantly immersed in man made sound?  Waiting rooms are drenched in either overly loud muzak or blaring televisions.  Supermarkets and shopping centres play their identifying jingles over and over and over.  We get in cars and immediately turn on the radio or a CD.  Those ubiquitous white dangly cords drape from ears to iPods, cocooning each wearer in their own world of individualised sound.

Our house is near the local railway yards, and surrounded by train tracks.  We expect a certain amount of noise each day from the coal trains and maintenance vehicles, and most nights we can hear the chiropractic clunks and crashes of carriages being shunted. Some of the train drivers are artists, echoing the horn of their diesel engine around the valley as they pass by the yards.

On clear  nights I can hear the “ping… Ping… Ping… pokpokpokpokpokpokpok” of the traffic signals over 150 metres away across the creek.  Some nights we are visited by the local owl (mo POKE! mo POKE!) and some nights the plovers scream from the vacant, weedy blocks.

Some nights we are woken by domestic quarrels; by neighbours who think that chopping wood after midnight is a perfectly reasonable thing to do; by dog fights, screeching engines and tyres sliding on the bitumen.  Or the ever-so-charming individual who believes that by renting a nearby industrial unit he has the right to super-amplified music at any time day or night.  I don’t think in the 5 years I’ve lived here there has been a single night without hearing at least one set of emergency service vehicles dopplering by on one of the main roads.

Oh, and I mustn’t forget to mention Bung Lung – one of the new neighbours who, although appearing to be in his mid 20s, has the emphysemal lungs and bronchial function of a 50 a day pensioner.  (We’ve started referring to their household as The Brueghels – because they’re phlegmish. (groan!)  Nothing like hearing a lugey hawked up outside your window at 3am to jolt you out of a dream. (The cigarette stench is a subject for another post…)

All of those are noises which are beyond my control.  When I can choose my audio surroundings, more often than not I’ll choose silence. Because it’s rare and I enjoy it.  I have quite enough trouble fighting with my head to get anything done, without inviting more noise in.

I’ll listen to Radio National, if there’s something good on.  My CD collection is almost exclusively female singers (loving the new Lily Allen album, and I never get tired of Kirsty MacColl)but I really only listen to music if I’m sewing or at the gym.

But Mr Beloved lives in a music centred world.  Where I find it VERY difficult to process two audio signals at once (especially if one of them is voice), he thrives on audio complexity.  (Not suprisingly, he’s a long time fan of Brian Eno.) I can’t read if there is competing audio – my brain just gets frustrated.  My Dad  can listen to radio, watch TV, AND read the newspaper all at once – I have no idea how he does it and even THINKING about it makes me feel quite ill.

My ideal world would have a soundproof room, possibly with squishy walls, and maybe a coat with arms long enough to actually fit me…

And now I’m off to take my medications.  Night!

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9 comments

  1. Aykayem’s avatar

    Hear Hear!
    (sorry – I just had to say that … but I do agree – why does every minute of our lives have to be filled with “background noise”? – anyone notice that even when there is someone talking on the radio – especially during adverts, but I have even heard it on the ABC – the person talking is usually getting kind of drowned out with some kind of tinny sounding background music jingling and jangling and making it even harder to pick out the person’s voice over any other noise that is competing with the radio, usually meaning that I have to turn the volume UP and then deafen myself … sigh … )

  2. Aykayem’s avatar

    omg – that bug eyed green thingy that appeared next to my comment is cute!
    (and it looks just like me! LOL)

    1. Caitlin’s avatar

      LOL! Andrea, I found those somewhere on WordPress and thought they were supercute!

    2. Kelley’s avatar

      I’m with you, Caity. I relish my drive to work where I am in control of the radio button. I rarely turn it on (only when the traffic is hideous and I’m kicking myself for not listening to the traffic report). The days that DD goes to school and I’m at home, I don’t have anything on either. I don’t even listen to music when I sew.

      On the other hand, I can read through pretty much anything – even my husband talking to me (much to his disgust). The only thing I can’t tune out is a toddler screaming or crying. Fingernails on the chalkboard stuff, that.

      Kelley

    3. Nic’s avatar

      love lilly allen’s music. my fave track is that one that is so damn catchy that i can’t have it on in the car while the kids are in it just in case they start singing. you know the one i mean.

      oh, and silence. hmm i do like background noise i’m afraid, so i do tend to get the am radio going in the background most times.

      1. Caitlin’s avatar

        Oh yeah – cheerily singing “Fuck you.. Fuck you very muu-uu-uu-uu ch..” in my head ALL THE TIME….!

      2. Keely’s avatar

        Your house sounds like ours – inside anyway (we live in a quiet suburb with the only noises being the odd barking dog or occasional trains which we tend not to notice anymore). Hubby likes music on ALL the time. I like silence or sometimes quiet music in the background. I actually went for a hearing test a few years ago because hubby accused me of going deaf. Lovely doctor told me it was age-related, not a hearing problem at all but effectively aural overload and the answer was to get hubby to turn down the volume. }:)

      3. Cat1’s avatar

        I agree with you. Until about 5 months ago, we had an elderly woman living in the front house (we are a battleaxe). The noise she created was unbelievable. The radio up full blast (she wasn’t deaf), the television up full blast, swearing and abusing her poor dog and then suddenly no noise! She went to a nursing home, the house was sold in record time (my suspicion is that her family couldn’t care what price they got for it) and we have a lovely quiet man (and partner) living in the house who is doing it up. Bliss.

      4. Karen B ( aka Brrmm)’s avatar

        This is very timely Caity! Yesty was in Bunnings (yuk!) and the music was soooooo loud I couldn’t think – it’s not a disco in there, what were they thinking?
        Other times I’ve been into Harris & Scarfe at Chermside Shopping Centre. Now here is a shop sort of like a small Target, but devoid of anything Gen X or Y would be interested in if you get my drift here – all merchandise aimed at MY gen, Baby Boomers. But each time I’ve been in there lately, the music is super loud – think Friday night pub kinda loud. WTF?? Last time I was there I asked an assistant (yes, they actually have people on the floor, assistants!!) why the music is so loud. She agreed that it was too loud too, but nothing could be done about it. I’m guessing they bought a sound system sans volume button then. So, now I’m very reluctant to go back in there I have to say. Will maybe give em one more try……….but will vote with my feet if necessary.

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