The Post Bag: Letters To Squall
Watts wrong with noise?
Squall 14, Autumn 1996, pg. 69.
First, well done on Squall 13, the best issue so far of those I’ve read.
Excellent range of stuff, letters interesting (especially Penny Rimbaud) and generally just really good.
However, “More Criminal Sanctions Against Music and Parties”, Squall 13, p 46, is an article that I think demands response.
In 1991 my wife and I moved into a terraced house in Luton. We imagined it would be a normal house with few or no problems. It turned out that next door two mentally ill people lived - a mother and her eldest son - and thanks to that wonderful thing ‘Care in the Community’ the town council was not remotely interested in helping them. So we were subjected to a barrage of noise through the wall, everything from hammering and bludgeoning to unbelievably loud radio, hi-fi and TV noise, not to mention threats of violence, damage to our house and car and of course, indescribable mental stress.
After two and a half years of hell we managed to sell up and move at a loss of £10,250. The two bank loans we were forced to get we are still paying off.
Now I mention all this because I think the article “More Sanctions Against Music and Parties” greatly oversteps the mark when it comes to simple respect for others. Despite the fact that a bunch of fools in the House of Commons are making this new legislation, we have to consider a few facts.
The vast majority of people in Britain do not live in detached houses. I’d guess most of your readers don’t.
It is surely simple decency to be reasonably quiet between the hours of eleven and seven. Sound travels with deadly speed through wood and brick. And I am just one of many who can testify to the devastating results of excessive noise.
You ask what sort of democracy we live in. The fact that dance music is the nation’s favourite is irrelevant if it is causing distress. The nation’s favourite food would seem to be junk food, as typified by McDonald’s if present trends are anything to go by, but nobody would complain if there was a crackdown on distress caused by excessive bad food.
What I’d like to hear is more discussion of such facts as it is now being possible to buy a hi-fi system rated at 800 watts for £600.
Catalogues and shops routinely sell stuff rated at not much less. Why? Who the hell needs 800 watts? Or 500? Or 200? This is capitalism gone mad. The sheer power of these bloated systems is causing people who live in flats and terraced housing in particular, mental anguish. We cannot ignore this by caricaturing old ladies out in the cold and rain. They are human too. In 1993 we had to spend one night in a local hotel because the noise was so bad. And that was after the police had been to try and get us a bit of quiet...
So come on, let’s consider each other. It’s not always easy to live in proximity. Sleep deprivation after all is a form of torture.
Parties are cool. Loud music is cool. This is a musician speaking. But there are limits.