Friday, July 27, 2018

silence is golden

                                                               our wee motorhome; tranquil

I was watching a TV show recently.
                                                               It looked quiet

It started like this. A man in his kitchen sitting at his table, painting small soldiers, the way men do, tip of the tongue out in concentration, giving Napoleon the right hair cut. There is some Chopin tinkling on his radio, quietly.

 Then the next door's kettle starts to boil, it's a whistling kettle and nobody lifts it off the stove.
 Then  the gardener arrives to cut down next door's trees and the chain saw starts up.

The teenagers,  next door, on the  other side  to the kettle boiling scenario, open their patio doors and  let out the sound of ACDC on full volume so they can sit and watch the chainsaw do its stuff.

After  about five minutes of this, the  soldier man, goes out and takes the chainsaw to the entire lot of them. It was filmed in such as way that the audience was cheering them on.

                                                 Wee bit noisy now...

I have always had a problem with sound. I like things to be quiet, not silent but quiet. I would hate  to think that  next door  could hear my radio out  in their garden. I'd wear headphones.

Maybe I have hyperacusis. I can't stand the drone of vacuum cleaners ( this is a good one as it gets you a cleaner), or buzzy things, alarms,  dogs barking, car engines running for no apparent reason (that's against the law here anyway), the buzz of things not being tuned in properly, Taylor Swift, chain saws, electric lawn  mowers ( why can we not go back to the push roll of the old sort- it was a good aerobic work out !)… and  worse of all BKS. ( bloody kids screaming). I will use that  term a lot, BKS.

So to be clear- scenario 1, stressed mum in  airport, screaming kid,  mum has bags of toys,  bits of fruit,  is pulling faces, nothing is working-  every mum has been there, we are all empathetic and  joining in with face pulling and amusement attempts to get small person to BE QUIET.
Scenario 2  the mum is looking at her phone,  or has her headphones in, or just says, 'now be quiet Tarquin'  as Tarquin screams the bloody place down.  They deserve all the dirty  looks they get  - it's not Tarquin's fault, although the situation could be remedied by a tourniquet applied round the neck.
 ( so I am told)

This is all a bit raw at the moment.

Reasons? We are having a heatwave,  not since 1976 has it been like this. I recall we were  camping in Devon that year and my dad could not get the pegs of the tent in the ground as it  was so hard. I saw the  cracks in the earth and thought there had been an earthquake ( I was very young at the time and brought up knee deep in mud so this dry stuff was all new to me).

So now people are out in their gardens,   behaving as if they are  still in their house. They are cooking dead animals outside and  drinking lager - a lot of it. They are shouting and singing, badly, they  have their ghetto blasters ( as they still called that) up at the kitchen  window. blasting out sounds  from.. 1976!

Then  when  I finish work and think I will sit outside and have a coffee- some bugger starts up with lawn mower or a chain saw.....

So we went away- to Oxford for 4 days to let the new start at work settle in without  the big  bad ( now part time) boss  being on the premises. A lovely campsite. The music in the showers would have deafened  the Deep Purple sound engineer.  Most (English it has to be said ) campers were out with the beer and the bbqs, and their own brand of crap music. Their kids ran feral until two in the morning, screaming round the camp sites on their  bikes.  Dogs barked incessantly. It was truly bedlam ( which as you know was a institution for those with psychiatric  disorders- which was me by two hours of this). I had my earphones on listening to the wondrous  Christopher Fowler and then towel wrapped round my head for further sound isolation.

In that heat, we couldn't open the door of the motorhome, as it was too noisy outside. So we went into Oxford town... in 34 degrees ( I know that might be nothing  to some of you guys  but getting in double figures is pretty good for us), on a Saturday I the height of the tourist season, and met very excited Italians. Lots of them.
 Then we  bumped in some excited Japanese.
                                           And various others... the lot below are excited about ice cream..
 So we escaped into the botanic gardens and sat there in total and complete silence,   the walls of the Victorian garden blocked out the  noise of the madness outside.
 then the bells  in the tower rang,  and rang and rang.
for and hour and a half...
 and rang.

Then stopped.

Then started again.

My ears began  to bleed.

I don't know if I have hyperacusis or not,  but sounds like that can be very painful. It hurts my ears.
 and I want it to stop, or somebody will die.

                                  Could I use these giant lily pads as ear muffs?

We escaped to Blenheim palace the next day ( noisy but posh noise so that was ok) and when we got back ( Sunday  pm) the campsite  had emptied leaving only the  normal campers behind, the Germans with their Rohan trousers, the Dutch, the French, who were on holiday and  rather bemused that nobody told the Vandal hoards to put a sock in it. I think it was the eyebrow to toenail tattoos that  might have put them off.
All was quiet apart from the odd shout when  something happened at the open.

                                     And more noise

"Hyperacusis is a health condition characterized by an over-sensitivity to certain frequency and volume ranges of sound (a collapsed tolerance to usual environmental sound). A person with severe hyperacusis has difficulty tolerating everyday sounds, some of which may seem unpleasantly or painfully loud to that person but not to others."

So now you know.
As the song says Silence is golden.

                                                 It looks a quite village....

All very serene

quintessentially English...

weeping willows....

cottages round the village green 

beautiful gardens

                                              thatched cottages

amusing names

 They were even cutting the grass in the churchyard. Next time I am  going to stay at home with my head under the pillow. But by next time it will be raining.

Caro Ramsay  27th July 2018


  1. SHHHHHHHH! Murderess at work... (Hey, that could be your new T-shirt!) Oops. SHHHHHHHHH!

  2. Indeed, I would be one of Susan's silent assassins...

  3. <> Caro, I block out other people noise by playing music. In public places, I wear earphones. It works for me. May help you. I’ll shut up now.

  4. Ahh, it sounds as if you live on an Aegean island during high season, though I think the whining bikes and cycles would drown out the chainsaw. Barbara is heading back to NYC for peace and quiet.

  5. Hi Caro. You have my absolute sympathies. My solution is a pair of custom-moulded in-ear ear defenders. I had them made by a company called Ear-Fit at one of the bike shows. I wear them not only for motorcycling, but also flying, shooting, at airshows, for using power tools, and anywhere there are likely to be BSKs. Oh, and for room-mates who snore. They're even comfortable to sleep in and don't fall out during the night. Bliss.