Sunday 16 March 2014

Noise Noise Go Away

As I enter my later years, the idea of spending it in peace and quiet appeals. I  have never been big on noise and at my age even minimal consequential sound rubs me up the wrong way.

Let me explain my predicament.

A chronological time line in a day in the life of a phonophobic. 

I live in a middling suburban area 4 miles from the town centre as the crow flies or in this part of the world, the egret. 
The houses are very close together and are generally made out of plywood or similar material. Being in the tropics and in a poorer part of town, ( no air conditioning ) the windows are always open to let whatever cooling breeze there is do its  job, so hearing the neighbours’ slightest movements or conversations even 2 or 3 houses down is common place.

The house I live in is half way down the street.  Most dwelling here have dogs.  Not the pet type per-say, but the so called guard dog variety.  The idea apparently is that the dog will warn the owner of an intruder and save the day.  Great in theory but… From 3 am onwards, 3 times a week the local garbage collection takes place.  This street is a dead end and the truck is reluctant to drive down it in a normal manner stopping at each house and emptying the refuse in the back.  Oh that would be too easy.  Two men are dropped off at the top of the street and walk down emptying the bins along the way and dragging the contents to a central location for collection.  This process takes about 5 or so minutes, a time when every dog in the street goes mad wanting to tear these men to shreds. 

 These dogs are never walked, never leave their yards, so have a lot of pent up territorial frustration.  Believe me, it’s like the Hounds of the Baskervilles. The funny thing is these dogs at times don’t react to more suspicious activities such as roaming packs of local youths walking by. Go figure.

To the left is a place where maybe a dozen plantation surveying workers reside.  Generally, they are fairly quiet apart from the period between 5.30 and 6 when they are getting ready to go to work and sit outside waiting for the companies vehicles to pick them up. On most days, a rather rotund man with outlandishly oversize shorts and workman’s singlet sits on the outside of the house adjacent to my dwelling, sawing and whittling away pieces of wood to make into surveying pegs.  This process starts at 6 am and finishes maybe midday when the sun has finally reached that side of the house.  Constant chopping and gnawing away on wood is the most irritating noise known to man; well at least this man.  These workers also have a tendency to shout at each other, even when they are standing 2 feet apart.  Either they are deaf or insensitive, or both. 

 Just as this is going on, my mother-in-law for reasons unknown to all but herself wants to sing renditions of P. Ramlee’s classics at the top of her voice.  Oh how I long for the morning chatter of the songbirds and the gentle mooing of the cows as they walk towards the milking shed.  Ahhh Bliss.

Turning to the other adjacent house, lives an old couple whom I would have expected to be longing for a quiet peaceful existence.  No such luck.  I might get myself into trouble saying this, but what the heck. The old man is deaf, so as most deaf people do, shouts at the top of his voice when he wants attention.  As luck has it, a mere dozen times a day.  The lady, I call her in my fits of annoyance a fish monger’s wife. My own wife gives me a dirty look when I state this bleeding obvious fact.  For I can’t imagine a better proponent of the art of shouting out “ Fish for sale tuppence a pound . Cum and get ya fresh snapper ‘ere. Cook the old man somefing fresh for din din’s.”  In the most high pitched irritating squark possible… Well - she would, if she could speak English, but you get the point. 

By early afternoon most days, the gas cylinder exchange truck barrels along the street honking its horn incessantly; nothing subtle about its message.  The double advantage of being on a dead end road - get to hear it twice in 30 seconds!

The area opposite the house is owned by the Girl Guides association even though I never see them there. The hall is rented out for various functions or activities, bamington in the evenings ( only hear the occasional grunt ) and mainly weddings that can occur any day but mostly on the weekend. If I am really lucky it’s twice a day, a constant ear splitting band belting out local favourites at 80 decibels, with a singer who thinks they can sing screaming, sorry - calm down now, blood pressure up -  I mean, hitting high notes, a little off key.

To top it all off as evening approaches the local discotheque, which is 300 metres away, revs up to terrorise the neighbourhood until 3 am. Pure bliss, sandwiched between a wall of noise. 

Not all is lost though. You know how I said I longed for the sounds of the country, the neighbours 2 doors down have procured a rooster. This kindly animal allows a brief respite from the disco music and doesn’t offer a cock a doodle doo until 4am.  I now have company in the mornings when the garbage truck doesn’t come.  

Now dear reading you might be thinking all this has everyone around here tearing their hair out in frustration, but I can assure you, no such thing.  It only bothers me. Yes, only little old me is going grey through the battle ground of the sound waves.

I have only one more thing to say before I sign off. 
Are there any decent ear plugs in Sandakan?


  1. Well, there's this coffee shop in town..... :-)

  2. Hmm....... I take it that the author doesn't like noise.


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