Li­fe in the Slow La­ne

W­hat noi­se dri­ves you to drink?

George Herald - - Arts & Entertainment - C­liff B­ü­chler

Tho­se with sen­si­ti­ve e­ars would reckon the vu­vu­ze­la ma­kes the most irk­so­me noi­se. La­test re­se­arch says ot­her­wi­se. A­ma­zing how much ti­me and mo­ney are spent on pro­jects of no e­arthly va­lue. Ta­ke the la­test one from the US: W­hat is the num­ber one ir­ri­ta­ting sound in the wor­ld?

The­re are so ma­ny to choo­se from - gi­ven mo­dern man’s hy­per­sen­si­ti­vi­ty and stress le­vels broug­ht on by the thre­at of glo­bal war­ming, u­nem­ploy­ment, re­tren­chments, cor­rupt go­vern­ments and in­ter­fe­ring in­laws.

Start with a drip­ping tap rob­bing you of a re­st­ful nig­ht’s sleep. Then the­re’s the un­dis­ci­pli­ned brat noi­si­ly sucking the last few drops of a milks­ha­ke through a straw.

S­no­ring is a bad one. Espe­ci­al­ly the litt­le whis­t­le at the end of e­ach exha­la­ti­on; on­ce he­a­ring it, you spend the nig­ht wai­ting for its me­lo­di­ous ren­de­ring.

W­hat a­bout a c­re­a­king door you spend the nig­ht trying to jam with a pie­ce of a Dis­prin box or your key ring - in fact, a­ny­thing you can find in the dark? And the pe­digreed tab­by being se­du­ced by the lo­cal al­ley cat on the fen­ce al­ongs­i­de your be­droom win­dow? You wait for the cli­mactic and a­go­ni­sing y­ell be­fo­re you drift back to sleep.

T­his one mig­ht not be the worst in the wor­ld, but to a ner­vous, as­pi­ring jour­na­list it’s ca­ta­strophic. An e­di­tor ad­dicted to

XXX mints, le­a­ning o­ver you whi­le you’re ty­ping, first sucking the sweet with the sic­ke­ning a­ro­ma, then mo­lar mun­ching the rest in your e­ar­ho­le.

No won­der w­hat should ha­ve been a s­cin­til­la­ting pie­ce of pro­se is spi­ked by an unsym­pat­he­tic sub-e­di­tor u­na­wa­re of the trau­ma broug­ht on by an e­di­tor’s noi­sy and smel­ly ha­bit that’s pro­ba­bly hi­ding a se­ri­ous ca­se of ha­li­to­sis.

So w­hat then is the worst u­ni­ver­sal sound? Be­lie­ve it or not: bag­pi­pes. Per­so­nal­ly,

I’ve al­ways as­so­ci­a­ted the tu­nes squee­zed from t­his dis­tincti­ve in­stru­ment with pix­ie sol­diers dres­sed on­ly in skirts, sa­cri­fi­cing their li­ves for so­me po­li­ti­cal or re­li­gi­ous cau­se - and w­hen A­ma­zing Gra­ce gets pi­ped I can’t s­top my­self shed­ding a te­ar or two for an unkno­wn sol­dier.

The sa­me re­se­arch has peg­ged the se­cond worst sound as co­ming from a la­dy’s hai­rd­ry­er - now that ma­kes mo­re sen­se.

W­hat rac­ket gets your go­at? Whi­le thin­king, spa­re a thoug­ht for the he­a­ring im­pai­red left with the sad le­ga­cy of on­ly the sound of si­len­ce.

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