Friday, 4 December 2009

Too much noise


Especially in the city, which is where I spent several hours today. My friend the bell ringer and I met for our monthly lunch, during which we regaled each other with the significant events of the month. She showed me her photos of her recent trip to Queensland to look at fossils, and told me the horrific story of one of her grandsons being attacked after he finished work and was robbed, badly stabbed and bashed by, it turned out, recently released violent criminals. I told her about Dr P's car accident and his falls, and we discussed the increasing delights of the aging process. We had a good time - we always do - but decided not to go to that cafe again, as it was too noisy. We can cope with other people conversing, of course, but they put some noise on, of the sort that made conversation very difficult. We asked them to turn it down, and they turned it down a smidgin, but then it crept up again. Now we have to find a non-noisy cafe. Not easy.

Afterwards I set off to do some Christmas shopping. I went to Myers and I am by no means sure that I can tolerate another expedition there. The reason is that noise level inside is just frightful. Of course, ground floors, with all the tizzy jewellery, cosmetics and perfumes, not to mention the perfume piranhas trying to take a bit out of your person or your purse, are hideous places to traverse. Every single section pipes or blasts different music (???) sorry, very loud noise with lots of thumps, bangs and wailings. The ears are assaulted from all directions and one noise becomes indistinguishable from all the others. We have only two ears, for goodness sakes, and they are not wired separately.

I thought the din might decrease on the higher floors, but this did not happen to any significant extent. Microphone-amplified voices offering specials hailed the hapless shopper. I struggled through the children's wear section, in order to buy a baby present for my latest great-nephew and a dress for my granddaughter, and then tried looking at radios, stereos and their ilk. Big mistake! To the general noise level is added the sounds coming from about one hundred TV sets, with all their flickering images. Any possible ability to choose something vanished. I quickly admired the Apple display and then started looking at cheap digital cameras. My poor ears were then assaulted by a high-pitched alarm sort of sound which no one seemed interested in turning off. I fled and took the bus home.

I seem to remember that marketing research shows that if people are bombarded by lots of noise, flashing lights, confusing displays and designed difficulty in reaching the desired part of the shop, they get bemused, and fall into a trance-like state which makes them more susceptible to advertising and to impulse buying. Lifts are not easily seen or reached, and it is difficult to go anywhere in a straight line. Indeed, I remember in New York in the late 1980s department stores were arranged so that it was necessary to walk in a diagonal direction, and it was very easy to get lost. Department stores in Australia adopted this design arrangement soon after. I hate it.

Was there not some legislation years go to protect people from too much noise? Was it repealed? Does it not apply to shops? Why are shops allowed to blast loud music not only inside their premises, but into the streets and arcades as well? All this, and traffic and building construction noises too! In not too many years from now there will be millions of not-so-old people with severely damaged hearing - and the most likely consequence is that the noise levels will rise even higher. With a bit of luck I will be dead by then, but I am tempted to sit somewhere with a ghetto-blaster and play Wagner or Mahler at excruciating levels. Payback!

On the bus I thought I should check whether I had any phone messages. Myers had been so loud that hearing a phone in my handbag was an extremely remote possibility. Sure enough, Dr P had phoned and left one of his more charming messages. Someone called around earlier in the week wanting to check the energy efficiency of the house , so I agreed they could come today at 2 pm. What with taking Dr P this morning to get pathology tests done, and doing some grocery shopping while I waited for him - all before breakfast, and then dashing out, I forgot this appointment. Dr P was very shirty about it all. It was certainly my fault, but not the end of the earth. There was not a a lot of milk of human kindness on offer at our house just then (see how today's experiences have affected my style of composition) and then his daughter, SD1, rang and she proposed and he agreed, without any reference to me, some sort of family lunch at our place the weekend after next - 'they' would bring the food! Is it too much to expect that I might be a part of these discussions and arrangements without having to make an issue of it? Do I live here?

The migraine started. I took myself off to bed, but could not sleep, because of feeling disgruntled. So I sit here, letting off steam, enjoying the peace of the night.


Laura Jane said...

So....I can guess at the many other words heavily underlined.

Hostile shopping trips, grumpy husbands, and a sneaky two-faced (oh, who am I kidding, she only has ONE face and its evil)SD1. Grr, what a day.

No wonder you got a migraine. Hope it settled soon.

molly said...

I so sympathize! I hate restaurants where you cannot have a conversation without shouting at each other! The general noise and confusion in stores at this time of year makes me want to go into hiding until February! Forty lashes to Dr.P for being such a grumpy-boots!

Pam said...

I've just read your last few posts (my life recently has not allowed much leisure, alas) and really felt for you about Dr P. He sounds so like my dad in his last few years. He too crashed his car by pressing the accelerator rather than the brake and was then persuaded to give up driving. He too fell twice in the house and we couldn't get him up. He too was deaf and sometimes grumpy.

And I sometimes now feel a bit the same as you do - only about my mum. She's a lovely person and perfectly reasonable, but I do seem to devote more and more of my life to her. Which I don't grudge. Exactly. But..

Thinking of you.

Back to the reports.

Meggie said...

I SO agree with you. How anyone can think is beyond me!
I find myself avoiding big shops & feeling very bah humbug about any sort of Xmas shopping.
As to the luncheon invite... I wish you could come & spend the day with me, sitting beside the ocean waves, feeling soothed & relaxed.