As I get older, the list of things that drive me to distraction continues to grow, to the point that I am, to all intents and purposes, a grumpy old woman.
I hate crowds and have to take a deep breath when in town because I am acutely aware that I am going to encounter an obstacle course in the form of hundreds of people walking straight at me, stubbornly refusing to alter their trajectory as if their path has been ordained by God. Now, as much as this irritates me, it does not come close to my number one aggravation – levels of noise in shops, pubs and restaurants, exacerbated by the fact I am partially deaf.
There is a shop called Fop that sells CDs, games and DVDs. It opened a few months ago promising to beat all high street retailers on price. I gave it a visit but left very quickly empty handed because they were playing hard core death metal so loudly, I could feel my ears starting to bleed. Loud music is one thing. Loud death metal is another. Surely, if they want to sell goods, they should make the shopping experience a pleasant one – not drive you out with your hands over your ears.
Even worse than shops that play loud music is crowd noise in pubs and restaurants. There is one boozer my husband likes to visit – it’s a real spit and sawdust place serving real ale at room temperature straight from the barrel. It’s my idea of pub heaven. But I can’t go in because the noise from the crowd stops me from hearing any conversation, which sort of defeats the social aspect of going out for a drink, really. The reason it is so loud is because there are no curtains and carpets which means sound is being bounced from one wall to another with none of the din being absorbed leading to unacceptable decibels that make your ears ring.
Far be it for me to come over all precious, as health and safety initiatives irritate me almost as much as noise pollution, but landlords would not dare let anyone light up a fag in their establishment but, for some reason, it is perfectly acceptable to inflict hearing damage on their customers.
Passive smoking is one thing, but there is nothing passive about having 70 decibels of bellowing, babbling and squawking forced on you.