Category Archives: noise

Decaying, degenerate London

Made in China

Dalrymple writes of a visit to the English capital:

I stayed on the border between a rich and a poor part: on one side houses costing millions, on the other social housing for the drawers of social security.

Dalrymple’s hotel

faced the poor quarter. Two huge liquid crystal screens, one of them relaying a trailer for the latest violent film, ensured that no one had to rely on the resources of his own mind for stimulation.

The paving stones were

mottled with trodden-in chewing-gum. A guitar-strumming beggar, probably a drug addict, sought the attention of hurrying pedestrians.

The hotel was noisy. In England, Dalrymple points out,

the sound of people enjoying themselves is indistinguishable from the sound of someone being kicked to death (the two are often the same), and this noise filtered into our bedroom. From time to time, including at 4am, police cars with a variety of ear-splitting sirens passed by, giving notice from afar to malefactors of their approach.

The architecture

was as appalling as that in the rich area was graceful, appalling as only British, French, and Soviet modernism (which are of the same lack of inspiration) can be.

The number of fast-food outlets was very high, and on the border between the two areas was a vast shopping mall catering to both

the hamburger-eating classes

and

the organic-gluten-free-bread-eating classes, worried about the state of their bowels in 30 years’ time.

The mall attracted the typical British shopper, i.e.

the insolvent in pursuit of the unnecessary.

Nearby was

a market in which the really hard-pressed searched for bargains, from their carrots to their niqabs, the latter manufactured in China. What better symbolises modern globalisation than a cheap niqab made in China and sold in London?

Dialogue of the Dalrymples

Dalrymple and his wife, also a doctor, have put up at an hotel. It is one of those hotels

in which television is a compulsory accompaniment to breakfast: not a boiled egg without an interview with a gormless footballer or a report on the weather 2,000 miles away relayed with fatuous facetiousness.

He asks the waitress at least to turn the sound off, which she does. However, Dr (Mme) Dalrymple says that Dalrymple

should not have asked, for two reasons.

One, he ought, especially at his age, to accept the world as it is; and two,

perhaps there are others in the room who want to listen to the state-sponsored drivel (it is the BBC).

But Dalrymple argues that his right to silence

exceeds anyone’s right to listen to (or hear) drivel. If they want drivel, they should listen to it in privacy and not impose it on others.

He suggests

a law in which any form of electronically relayed noise is illegal in the presence of any person who does not want to hear it.

Dr (Mme) Dalrymple’s response to this proposal is not recorded.

Britishers are ferocious in defence of their egotism

Great Britain, writes Dalrymple,

has become among the least disciplined nations known to me in the matter of making a noise, and the most ferocious in its defence of its own egotism. The English, it used to be said, took their pleasures sadly; now they take them loudly. As they walk through the streets in pursuit of their generally gross and unrefined pleasures, or after they have taken them, they scream and shout fit to wake people on life-support machines in a vegetative state. The women are worse than the men, or at least their voices are more penetrating.