A seasoned look at life - October 11, 2012

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HERE’S something to shout about – noise. Not that anyone will listen, of course!

“Excuse me,” I said quietly the other day at a Blackpool hotel’s smart bar, “would you mind turning off the music? Only we’re all trying to watch the sport on your TV.”

“People are listening, sorry,” the young staff told me.

Minutes later I was back. “No one’s actually listening but you,” I pointed out, raising my voice now above the rap ‘music’.

“I’ve asked the other half dozen patrons in the bar.

“As I said, we’re watching the sport on your telly and would like to hear the commentary or, I added, “nothing at all.”

This last was obviously too much for them to get their noise-assaulted heads around.

“We’re not allowed to turn it off completely,” one explained: “It’s against the rules – but we’ll turn it down and turn up the commentary.”

In the cacophony that followed I wished they hadn’t bothered.

Why do we have to endure “music” wherever we go?

It’s there in the supermarket, blaring from people’s cars and even added in the background to most television programmes.

It’s as though the modern world is afraid of silence.

In my considerable experience, lack of distracting noise is an encouragement to purposeful thought and promotes normal conversation.

What’s wrong with those?

Mind you, I was responsible myself recently for making noise in a public place.

It was a book reading and signing event in one of our local libraries.

Everyone looked attentive, one or two were even straining to hear my words.

My mother-in-law Wynne helpfully gestured that I should raise my voice.

Meanwhile, my good lady – She Who Knows – had discreetly gone outside our open-plan, corner enclave to silence a library computer class in the next alcove.

Then she quietened an anxious Scottish Terrier waiting outside for its owner.

Only my raised voice was then spoiling the silence.

Ironically, I was discussing my latest novel Born Again Sinner.

In it, the hero – a 1980s newsman – returns to the modern day and hungers for the simple pleasures of life, like quiet reflection.

Amazingly, one of those listening to me turned out to be an old colleague I hadn’t seen for a few decades.

Another irony was that later, in the quiet of the night, I remembered how noisy our old office had been. Still, it had been the unavoidable noise of typewriters and rather exhilarating.

n Roy’s novels and humorous memoirs are available in paperback or on kindle, with signed copies at Plackitt & Booth’s store in Lytham. Visit royedmonds-blackpool.com for full details.