The other week I was sat on a train out of Lime Street Station- It was after that jaunt to New Brighton- and then a whole family with a kid gets on and sits directly in front of me. Most of them were quiet, even the kid. It was the fully grown man that was with them who was being loud. First of all he started shouting to the kid about head lice. Some would argue that he was ‘only being playful’ with the kid… But he was literally shouting the word ‘nits’ (and only that word) over and over again at the top of his voice. That’s not just playfulness, that’s uncalled for. Then he started speaking to his wife or girlfriend or symbiotic flesh partner or whatever relation she was and he still shouted. No indoor voice, just spoke in as loud a voice as he could to a woman who was right in front of him. He was an arsehole, basically. No respect for anybody else on the train.
Normally I would have blocked out the sound with my iPod but the train was one of these ancient ones, all squeals and creaks and death rattles which drown out any attempt to listen to music but not the idiot in front. So I had to sit there, getting more and more irritated at this arsehole in front. I seriously wanted to knock the shit out of him. Lord knows the other passengers might have commended me for it but he was the kind of arsehole who would have got all up himself and claimed he wasn’t doing anything wrong if anyone tried to stop him. If that had been me, dealing with it, it would have only made matters worse.
I noticed at the time that this one incident, this one loud arsehole, was really affecting me. This incident was affecting me to such an extent that I was starting to collapse, mentally speaking. I was beginning to withdraw, to shake, to get really angry and want to shove this guy’s head through the window of the train. Most people would be able to cope with a loud arsehole such as this, to bottle things in, but I wasn’t doing that. This one incident left me shaken, left me drained, mentally.
Sadly, this isn’t the only time this has happened. It is becoming a more and more frequent occurrence. Noises, especially repetitive noises (like someone shouting about head lice, over and over again) are really affecting me. It doesn’t come gradually either. If a noise starts, and especially if it is a noise that has been persistent in the past, then I’m gone. I’m immediately shaking or sweating and I’m tense, anxious and upset. If it happens in the night then I’m left unable to sleep. It happens with people playing loud music, people shouting in the street, hammering, drilling, general construction work… Even the sound of too many cars driving past can set me off, especially if they’re going stupidly slow or revving their engine or if it’s ten on a Wednesday morning… Or even ten on a Monday morning come to that. There are a lot of noises that set me off, in other words. There are some noises, however, that don’t. I can cope with stuff like twittering birds and seagulls (not pigeons though. Those little gits can sod right off.) and police sirens. It all depends on how persistent or how annoying the noise is.
I never have liked loud noises, actually. I’ve hated noise for as long as I can remember Years before they flopped at Eurovision the band Scooch came and performed at my school. They were just as terrible then as they were when performing at Eurovision but that isn’t why I hated them. I was sat right at the front, near the speakers and the noise was horrendous. I really didn’t like it, and not just because it was from one of the worst bands to ever to disgrace the record industry.
There was another incident involving a tennis coach who came to do some classes and try and drum up support for his tennis place. It was around the time of those ‘waaazzuuup’ Budweiser adverts, another terrible stain on humanity’s record, and this guy was obsessed with them. Needless to say he tried to get the entire class to do the same thing and that, for me, was really just a living hell. It was a loud, persistent, irritating noise and when it came to my turn I just wasn’t playing ball. Nah mate… You can fuck off with your waaazzuuup bullshit, yeah? The next week there was a different tennis coach, from the same place, and he tried the same thing. Just… No! To me, and still, that thing wasn’t clever or cool… It was just a loud, irritating noise.
There have been other occasions where I’ve been overwhelmed by noise. I don’t like crowded, noisy pubs and nightclubs are a harrowing prospect for me. I avoid them if I can. Generally, I prefer silence and solitude but being, largely, a creature who depends on the urban environment for survival, that is sometimes difficult to get. Over the years the problem has grown to this point we’re at now… The point where I want to start decking people.
Back in the present, in an effort to relieve this problem, I bought myself some earplugs. I thought that when the persistent noises began I could just slip them in all would be well. The next night some drunken buffoons were shouting somewhere whilst I was trying to sleep, so I decided to try oyt the earplugs. Their effectiveness was limited. They muffled the sound but not by nearly enough. I could still hear the morons. They did, however, manage to muffle the sound enough so I could sleep. Then I woke up the next morning with an ear infection… from the ear plugs.
So what is a man to do? I’m already dosing myself up with a morning cup of chamomile to relieve other problems and the earplugs were a waste of money. There isn’t much in the way of available treatment for this sort of thing either, from what I’ve found. There are some doctors out there who don’t even think it exists. It doesn’t help that people don’t seem to even consider that this might be a problem or don’t shut up and stop the noise when they’re asked to. People seem to think they can make as much noise as they want. Would therapy help? It might, but proper therapy is expensive and I have a feeling this is tied into much deeper shit. It isn’t something that is just going to go away, even with therapy. It’s going to either take years to deal with or something I have to live with for the rest of my life.
Maybe, therefore, the best option is to retreat to the mountains, to silence, and live as a hermit. Ahhh… If only I could!