There are but few havens for those who like a bit of peace and quiet in today’s busy world. Silence is very important. You can’t think properly when there is a lot of background noise. It’s like trying to make ice cream in a burning house. I need time in the day for a good old ponder, and the modern world is making this rather difficult.
Assaulting the senses
If you could sum up today’s world in a single word, it would probably have to be ‘Busy’. Personally, I think that this is a faux-busyness, but that’s a topic for another day. Everyone’s rushing around, because otherwise there won’t be any avocados left in Waitrose, or you’ll miss the beginning of that presentation on why the beginning of presentations are really important. And as any assassin will tell you, moving quickly is noisy.
But it’s not the ambient city or life noises that bother me. I like those noises. I like the sounds of life, of people and cars, of existence. What bothers me is when people try to bring them into the last few sanctuaries of quiet, mainly waiting rooms, quiet carriages, and libraries.
All the signs are there
Join me for a moment in one of my many memories of train travel. Nope, not the one where the drunk homeless man with the black Labrador which he had named after a racist insult threatened to mug me and the rest of my band (yes, a true story). One of the many times I have been sat in the quiet carriage while some trumpet-faced buffoon tries to melt everyone’s ears off.
What does that sign on the door mean? They must wonder. What on earth is a ‘quiet carriage’? The perfect place to discuss X-Factor, work, or your STIs, clearly. Hurray, it’s green and bulbous! I’m so glad I chose to sit in here.
No, what the sign actually means is that this is a place for people who want to sit quietly and cogitate. There’s nothing wrong it’s having conversations with your friends – occasionally I talk to mine – but would it be so hard to do it in one of the ‘loud carriages’, which make up the other 80% of this train? That’s around 400 other seats you could be sitting in to discuss the fact that Sandra got passed over for promotion because they caught her making out with the coffee machine at the last Christmas party.
It’s not like we’re asking a lot. There’s one carriage on this train where you have to shut up. Just one. No talking, no music, no phone calls, and for the sake of every god under the sun, no picnics.
Oblivious is not an illness
What everyone wants to do in a doctor’s surgery waiting room is sit quietly and hope that whatever they have isn’t fatal. There are thousands of innocuous explanations for a host of ailments (with the exception of a leg falling off), but the internet has told us it might be cancer. Not only that, but a doctor’s surgery, with its ban on mobile phones and enforced quietness is one of the
last places on Earth in which people have to shut up and think. It’s not optional like a Quiet Carriage. Using your mobile could cause someone’s head to explode, and talking to each other just isn’t British.
So please, person in the corner texting on their smartphone, put it away. The world can survive without your ‘LOL’s and ‘OMG STFU’s for twenty minutes. You, on the other hand, might have something really bad. Quietly consider that like the rest of us, please. What if it’s not just a regular check up? What if they’ve called you in because you’re the first person in the world to contract Possum Flu? So please, a moment of grave quiet and personal reflection.
Oh, and those people who have kids? I’m not saying you should have to gag them or anything. Although, I hear gags aren’t that expensive the days…
Libraries used to be the one place where everyone knew to be quiet. Only the librarian was allowed to be noisy, with their freakishly loud stamp that went KUDDDUNNG every time someone wanted to withdraw a book. You’d even get ‘Shhhh’ if you ran into the building on fire. Just because you want to be extinguished doesn’t mean other people aren’t trying to read.
Even these sacred bastions of quiet are now being assaulted by the loud people. The oafs who have no perception of things that don’t directly involve themselves. Stuck for a book, are you? By all means tell the entire library. Like crime? Try solving the mystery of who beat the loud-mouth to death with ex-display copies of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Just a little quiet, please
Whether because it’s a designated quiet area, people are trying to read, or because you should be reflecting on your potential upcoming hideous demise, there are reasons for being quiet in these places. I’m not being unreasonable, am I? I’m not being like the obnoxious old man in my student local who shouted at us for having a conversation in a pub. Who goes to a pub to read a newspaper and expects quiet?
These are designated quiet areas. There aren’t many places in the modern world where you have to be quiet, so it’s not exactly like we’re enforcing a strict regime on people. It just means that the quiet people want somewhere to go to be quiet.
Just to balance it out, and to show I’m not a crusader for uniform quietness, here’s a list of times it’s definitely not OK to be quiet:
- When someone says good morning to you
- When you answer a phone call
- When, at the scene of an accident, someone asks ‘Is anyone here a doctor?’, and you’re totally a doctor
- At your own wedding, when the person performing the ceremony asks you if you take your other half to be your lawfully wedded wife/husband
- When you see a tiger charging at Stephen Fry and he hasn’t noticed
- When at someone else’s wedding, and the person performing the ceremony asks if anyone knows a reason why the couple at the altar shouldn’t get married, and you know that the bride is a killer robot sent back from the future
What other traditionally quiet places and times do we need to protect? Comment me your thoughts.
Liked this post? There’s plenty more of this sort of thing
Don’t forget to follow me by whacking your email address in the box up the top.
All content in this post, including images and audio unless otherwise stated, are copyright Rewan Tremethick 2014. I am not responsible for the content of external sites.