A tricky night – the usual problem, grinding, repetitive bass frequencies coming through the walls, prompted me to request, ever so politely, I thought, a reduction in volume. This did not go down well, and, to cut the long story short, the police were called to deal with the matter once a couple of people began shouting and swearing at me. Still, I’m a tough old boy now, stayed very calm and, I think, kept my position on the moral high ground.
I have just finished reading The Year 1000 by Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger, and they state at one point, that, of all pollutions, noise is the most insidious of our modern age. Barenboim goes further, using strong analogies and pointing out that one can close one’s eyes to sights, but the ear cannot be closed to noise. Off the top of my head I would say that everybody should have the right to listen to whatever they want whenever they want, but one should also have the right not to be disturbed by that music. Clearly there are areas in which these things overlap and compromise needs to be sought – open air gigs spring immediately to mind, for example – but I think that the general principle holds. Maybe I am less tolerant than others about this, or maybe it is just that people feel scared to complain in case they get the kind of reaction I got yesterday evening, but, either way, there is no reason why things need to be like this, especially at 10:30 at night.
At one point yesterday the charming man’s charming wife said “What about your trumpets and guitars?” which has baffled me ever since, more so as I only ever listen to music at home through headphones. Apart from the more obscure reaches of my 90s metal collection I cannot imagine where this combination might be found, but it strikes me as an interesting starting point for compositional possibilities, so yesterday’s exchange was not entirely fruitless. My neighbours do like to tinker under their cars with Romanian pop playing at a certain volume, however, so maybe there was some confusion going on about this, as I think trumpets and guitars are occasionally found together in such repertoire.
Nevertheless, onwards. Tonight I rehearse with the Malcolm Sargent Festival Choir, and we will be running Melody Divined before our weekend at Arundel Cathedral, and I am hoping that, by the time we get around to this event in 2015, my move out of London will be about to come to pass. Having been here in glamorous Mitcham for over ten years (or “five minutes”, according to Mr. Shout last night) and London for nigh twenty, I am counting the days to move away. My string orchestra may be fighting against the pull of silence but that very pull is dragging me to a quieter life.