Noise Noise Noise

Three days in a city now and I’m quite flipped. There’s too much noise. I just can’t do with it.
Lou Harrison

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
Max Ehrman

Noise noise noise today it seems that there is no escape from it.

Superfluous noise is the bane of my life. Here in the UK it seems to be spreading like a virulent disease; there is no sanctuary and no respite or peace from the relentless intrusion of noise. I am particularly disturbed by the noise of machinery and music, and I use the word music very loosely here as most of the mindless racket which emanates from just about every public building is in my option anything but music. At one time the only place you would get to hear music was at a concert, a disco, a nightclub and perhaps occasionally in a trendy fashion shop.

Now you cannot enter any public building without your senses being assaulted with the blare of music; it is not simply in the background. Our local supermarket ASDA is more like a night club than a shopping facility as is the
co-operative supermarket. The screeching of some popular singer and the constant interruption of advertising and colleague announcements makes shopping a nightmare from some hell realm for those of us who are sensitive to loud intrusive music. I do not give a dam if the oranges are on special offer at the front of the store, or so and so shampoo is priced at three for two, or that Mrs Smith is required to come to customer services as a customer is waiting; all I want is peace to do my shopping. You even get these announcements in the toilet at Sainsbury’s though thankfully so far there is no music in this store.

I do not want to be greeted by loud classical music when calling in at the
CAB (citizen’s advice bureau) as happened the last time I went there for help and advice, particularly if my problem is causing me stress or is of a sensitive nature. I do not want to be distracted by music in a bookshop when I need to concentrate to select a book. I certainly do not want loud music in the chemist when filling my prescription as is the case in Boots pharmacy; I am certainly not interested in what’s on offer in other parts of the store all I want is to get my prescription filled and return home. Well wouldn’t you if you were ill. How can I speak with the pharmacist for advice about my medication to address issues about which I may have concern accompanied by a screeching pop singer in the background?

I cannot walk into such places without becoming agitated, stressed out and angry, my concentration deserts me.

A couple of decades ago I cannot imagine what would have been said had there been the drone of a radio, or even worse a TV, in the doctor’s waiting room, in a nurses or a dentist’s consulting room. In hospital a couple of decades ago you would have to have gone into the patient’s lounge to watch TV if there was indeed a TV to watch . About years ago when my brother-in-law was seriously ill in hospital in a four patient ward the TV was switched on all day, most of the patients could not see it but the drone continued hour after hour. Nowadays whenever you go to an outpatient’s clinic instead of the coffee table and magazines there is the babble of a TV.

Please Please all I want is some peace. Not everyone wishes to be inundated with the constant babble of TVs, radios and stereo systems everywhere they go, there are appropriate places for such entertainment, public facilities such as shops, hospitals, waiting rooms, offices conducting business – the HSBC and Lloyds banks have music now – are not among them.

If the day arrives when there is music in the library well than I will most certainly complain. Perhaps you cannot imagine that happening, but I could not imagine it happening in a quality book shop such as Boarders, which has now closed down, yet it did, there was background music of an intrusive nature in this particular store. On one occasion I walked out complaining loudly – well you have to otherwise you would not have been heard over the racket. Libraries are in any case not the quiet places they once were as the background babble can be significant at times. When I was a child you would never consider speaking in a library, and would immediately be met with a ssshhhhhh if you did so. Now everyone natters away, there is no attempt whatsoever to maintain an environment of quiet conducive to those wishing to study. In our local library they even hold some kind of kindergarten, children singing, laughing, screeching and playing. All of which is very nice of course, but in the right place in a separate room for the purpose not in the same room as the library.

Noise is the bane of many people’s lives in industrial countries and most governments and even environmental groups do little or nothing about it. Only China and Hong Kong have undertaken programmes of any significance to reduce noise

Did you know that some 450 million people are exposed to levels of noise that are considered unacceptable by the World Health Organisation (WHO)? Around half a million people move home to escape from unwanted noise. A staggering 12 million are disturbed by traffic while 3.5 million are disturbed by aircraft noise and 11 million by the noise from their neighbours. Low frequency noise is also a significant problem about which has produced an increase in the number of noise related complaints.

More information please read:

Noise pollution: why the silence?

By Geoffrey Lean

Noise is a detriment to our health

Noise may damage both physiological and psychological health

The WHO cites several health problems that may result from noise pollution these include sleep disturbance; cardiovascular effects; damage to work and school performance; hearing impairment including tinnitus.
More information:

Also see

People have become so desensitised to noise that they do not notice it, nonetheless damage by the huge amount of noise in our environment continues to have a detrimental effect.

Noise not only disturbs humans it disturbs wildlife

In the oceans it is estimated that noise levels have increased by as much as one hundred percent during each decade of the past fifty years. Animals use sound to communicate, for example whales and dolphins communicate with similar frequencies as those which result from the noise of sonar used by navies. On land our noise pollution detrimentally effects ecosystems as sounds produced by human activities interfere with the way animals communicate, mate and prey on one another.

There are four factors involved in the way animals are adversely affected by noise pollution and include

· hearing loss, resulting from noise levels of 85 db or greater;

· masking, which is the inability to hear important environmental cues and animal signals;

· non-auditory physiological effects, such as increased heart rate and respiration and general stress reaction; and

· behavioral effects, which vary greatly between species and noise characteristics, resulting in, for example, abandonment of territory and lost reproduction.

Also see


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