A poem by Ivor Cutler, which reads simply:

Amplification Is The Curse Of Civilisation

...also a rant by wertperch. Ivor once passed out bumper stickers with this line on them, alongside "Thatcher is an eight-letter word". The man was a genius, and both are sentiments with which I heartily agree. What I'd really love is a bumper sticker or badge that reads "Your amplified noise is my pollution".

Given the auditory onslaught with which we are bombarded daily, I feel the need to expand on this, just a little. A list of annoying noises would include, in no particular order (and by no means complete):

  • 'Personal Stereos' (and iPods) which are anything but personal. The continual rattle and buzz of them, in buses, trains, libaries (libraries, I mean, really!). Never able to enjoy either the music or the silence. Then the wearer begins to 'sing' along, oblivious to the gritting of teeth which accompanies it. Hate.

  • Mobile phones. Okay, I admit it - I am also an offender to some degree - I own one. Cellular phones are not of themselves, evil. But there are those who seem to take great delight in having as loud a ring as possible, which in some cases, makes the ears positively bleed. Then there are those who insist on testing every ringtone in public. Surely this has to be psychologically damaging. I know it makes me see red, and I have been known to vent my spleen against such offenders against the peace.

  • Muzak and any music played in shops and shopping malls. You walk down a street, and through each and every bl**dy door, comes music. Never your taste, and if it is, hey presto! you go in and they change the damned track. Muzak is sheer punishment - bland, synthesized schmaltz whose sole purpose is to lull you into 'buy anything, agree with anything' mode. Don't even get me started on Christmas Carols.

  • Street Evangelists. Now, I'm not opposed to the sharing of faith or religious beliefs in public. Oh, no. But I do have personal experience of how annoying it can be when assisted by large portable PA systems. I was recently delighted to witness a group of four or five people who were haranguing a crowd in my home town. Several people, including the staff of two local shops, had approached them and asked them, nicely, to turn it down, and they declined. The Police arrived and simply took the microphone off the wielder and took him and his noisy buddies on one side to 'have a chat'. Subsequently, they switched the equipment off, to a mighty cheer from onlookers.
I could go on. And on, and on, and on. But I won't, because then you'd look at me, even unamplified, and wish that you could escape my noise.

Postscript (14 October, 2002): I just read on http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/2324453.stm that someone has developed a sound system for billboards. Now, passers-by will not be able to ignore even advertising hoardings! Simply put, the technology now exists to turn almost any flat surface into a transducer which enables it to produce sound.

Whilst every effort will (hopefully) be made to reduce nuisance, it is yet another way in which our poor eardrums will be subjected to drivel. "Of course you'd have to think about the problem of noise pollution, but you could time it so as not to cause too much of a nuisance." (Norman Harris, director of the design firm Harris Hynd Ltd.)

I despair.

CST Approved

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