Sunday, January 01, 2006

A noisy year's end

The year end fun fair is up and running in Museum Avenue. There's a stage up once more outside the central police station to accommodate the entertainment. Scores or portable toilets have been erected to welcome the output of the temporary bars set up in the street near the stage. Generators hum and sound systems compete to deafen the punters wherever you go. Our Rectory is set back behind the Civic Centre turned into a public playground on occasions like this. Usually we get no more than the background rumble from all this festive activity, but not so on this day.
In the playing field the other side of North Road, close to the Ambulance station, a huge sound system has been set up as part of the evening's family fireworks display. When it was being tested, right after lunch, it was so loud that the windows buzzed and my entrails vibrated. It's a quarter of a mile away, and the high fidelity digital sound is so loud that it drowned traffic noise, and would have obscured the sound of a passing helicopter had one flown by at that moment. If I'd been playing my guitar or listening to the radio at that moment, I would not have been able to hear either. I couldn't believe how clear the sound was or how loud, close to being paiful on the eardrum, and utterly offensive, not least because of the public imposition of music or should I say muzak on a considerably sized residential area.
I wondered how the elderly infirm people resident in neighbouring Nazareth house, even nearer to the source, were coping. It didn't last very long. I wondered if this was because of complaints. It came on again loudly before and after the fireworks display, snatches of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, soul sounds, pop beats, some ambient sound, including wind in the trees - how irritating when you live in a place filled with trees, where that natural sound is a familiar consolation.
All this was delivered with no warning, no consultation with residents. The local papers carried the story of a man who was threatened with a large fine under noise abatement laws because his Christmassy decorated house had singing Santas activated in the front garden whenever people passed by, and the neighbours complained. I wonder where the Council's enforcement officers were working on New Year's Eve?
My last job on the last night of the year? A trip to St John's to re-set the central heating themostat for tomorrow morning's Sunday Eucharist, having turned it down last Monday, since nobody remembered, and the building was as warm as our living room, benefitting nobody and costing ....., well this was what I was on about yesterday.
On my way home I shall call in the St John's Ambulance station to wish the volunteers Happy New Year. They're on duty for the funfair, and providing a field hospital front line service for binge drinkers to ease the nightmare at the city' casualty units. They're a great bunch.

If anyone out there is reading this, Happy New Year to you too.

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