The Grumpy Old Man

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Grumpy is extremely worried about noise

Can't hear the birds singing or staff in shops?


Gordon Bennett, we don't half generate a lot of it. Why is it that people have got to generate and surround themselves with so much man-made noise? Personally I find the countryside is absolutely fantastic when there is no noise at all intruding into my thoughts. Perhaps the best example is when I get into the mountains. There, the only sound is the wind or the sound of silence. This silence is so complete, it is almost loud.

You don't always have to go to these high places to experience the sound of nature. If you get away from the populated areas, you can hear skylarks singing as they soar or curlews cry as they come in to land on the salt marshes. Even the less exotic birds like the Blackbird sitting on top of a telegraph pole giving it some real rootie toot in the spring, or the Sparrows cheekily chattering away in the hedges or the Finches frantically fighting over the peanuts in the birdfeeder. These sounds are real, they are absolute magic, they are pure, they are natural and when I hear them, life is truly magnificent.

There are times though, when man made noise is totally unnecessary and makes life a proverbial pain in the butt. I find the piped music permeating every single shop, cafe, restaurant and office that you go into these days annoying, frustrating and intrusive. Is it really necessary?

You may think me a grumpy old git, but I find this racket disturbs my concentration and distracting me from the job in hand, which is to make the correct choice. Sometimes when I am out shopping, it annoys me so much that I may grab the nearest thing and rush out, only to find later that it doesn't fit, is the wrong colour or is not what I wanted anyway.

At least in the supermarkets they seem to have moved on from marching music. That, I'm sure, was used to encourage the shoppers to walk briskly round the shop and therefore speed up their rate of shopping!

I can't believe I am the only person who has difficulty hearing things when there is a lot of background noise. Certainly, discussing the various merits of articles on sale with sales staff or making conversation with people at the checkout can be extremely difficult.

There are many other places where a lot of man made noise is being generated, penetrating our human condition, cutting us off from the natural rhythms of body and soul. It is de-sensitising us from the natural world and slowly driving us all quite bonkers. I ask, what has man to fear from silence?