The roar and din of summer
I HADaterrifically good summer break at home (thank you for asking) and now I can take off mynoisecancelling headphones, which are as big as dinner plates.
The festive season is a tremendously loud time. It seems to be all the rage to shout because it’s impossible to be heard above honking public announcements at malls, wailing banshee music at shops (surfwear stores are the worst offenders; their staff seem to be able to read lips, however, which is handy) and blaring cinema ads that all but send your 3-Dglasses flying.
Proprietors of restaurants, cafes and bars believe concert-volume music is an essential part of the atmosphere. So if you have met your friends with a view to conversation, then forget it — you mayas well just text them across the table. Onthe train between the city and our beach shack, the volume of iPods was turned up to such a maxthat a tinny whine issued from almost everyone’s ears, like a congress of cicadas. If I asked a question, these passengers looked at me, a live and speaking person, in stunned amazement, then turned back to their electronic devices, embarrassed to have been approached by a roaming lunatic.
I escaped all this hideous manufactured noise, eventually, in the surf and on the sand, where comforting holiday sounds were still all the go. Kids, bright-eyed and beach-ready, whooped and rushed into the water while seagulls circled and mewedlike kittens. Hardy little dogs barked with delight as sticks were thrown for them to fetch and waves rushed across their paws. Toddlers squealed as their parents hastened them into the sea for lessons in the art of paddling. Someone even had a crackling transistor (imagine such antiquity), listening to the cricket. Such a blast from the past.