Thursday, 21 April 2011

Reasons to be cheerful

On the whole I am an easygoing, good-tempered sort of person. Even though I am known to rant about things on occasion, few things work me up into a serious rage. However, one of the things I do object to is being forced to share other people’s bad choice of music.

I can just about cope with the kind of muzak you get in lifts and in big department stores. You can usually tune that out and just get on with going wherever you are going. That’s not a problem.

No, what I object to is having t
o listen to doomph – doomph – doomph coming at top volume from some car stopped at traffic lights. The driver has to turn the volume up to the max as he is driving with his windows open because he’s smoking or, even better, because he’s got the roof down on his convertible and can’t hear his so-called music when he’s on the move unless it’s turned up really high. And with the rather pleasant sunny weather we have been having it seems as though every convertible owner is driving around the roads of Saddleworth with the roof down.

And then there are the leaky earphones on the bus. Presumably the owners of these malfunctioning headphones must be at least partially deaf as they need to turn the volume on their portable music system up as high as possible. Tinny doomph – doomph – doomph is a special delight.

I came across the best form of obligatory music sharing though just the other day. We got on the bus to return from Oldham. The only empty seats were near the back of the bus and,
annoyingly, they were facing towards the back of the bus. (There is something very disconcerting about travelling backwards on a bus; it’s bad enough on a train!) It soon became clear why those seats were free. At the very back sat a group of four young ladies, aged somewhere between 16 and 19 by the look of them. They occupied the whole of the back seat: that’s four people using the space of seven. Not only that but they also had their feet on the seats facing theirs. Now, I know countries where you can get quite a hefty fine for doing just that. So there they were, nicely dressed bright young things but somewhat antisocial.

But most antisocial of all was the fact that one of them had her music player (iPod, iPhone, MP3 player, whatever) plugged into a portable speaker and was sharing her music with her friends … and with everyone else on the bus. Even putting my own headphones on and listening to my own iPod did not work. Their “music” drowned out even Springsteen unless I turned my volume up to a level which might damage my hearing.

I almost got around to asking them to turn their volume down so I could hear my own music. I almost remonstrated with them for their anti-social behav
iour and selfish attitude in making the seats grubby for the next people who would sit there. When I recognised one of the tracks they listened to as a French rap artiste, I almost asked them condescendingly if they actually understood what they were listening to. I almost did all those things but in the end I wasn’t in the mood for confrontation. It was a lovely sunny day, too nice for an argument. And then the noisy bunch got off the bus anyway so all was peaceful once more.

We have been having an astonishing number of fine sunny days, unseasonably warm as well. Looking at the weather chart for Europe last weekend, I noticed that almost all of Spain appeared to be having temperatures around or even above 30°. I wonder if they will open the pool early in the gardens of the flats where we lived in Vigo. 30° is quite hard to manage of you can’t have a dip!

Here we aren’t
quite up to that level but we’ve done a good deal of sitting out in the garden or going for walks in the sunshine. Most pleasant! The summer wardrobes are coming out early and strappy tops are to be seen everywhere. People are sitting outside the pubs – and not just the smokers! I was very gratified this evening to see drinkers outside one of our local pubs, the Swan at Dobcross, which I had been told had been forced to close. It’s always a shame when a village loses its local so it was good to see people there.

As I walked around admiring the blossom trees, which are very fine at present, reflecting on the summer clothes which have appeared almost overnight, I was reminded of the old saying, “Don’t cast a clout ‘til May is out.” I never did find a reasonable explanation for a “clout” as an item of clothing instead of a clip round the ear but I have always understood the saying to mean that you shouldn’t be too hasty in putting your winter clothes away.

Some people
argue that May means the month; others say it means the May blossom, in other words hawthorn blossom. Well if the latter group are correct then May is almost out. The hawthorn bushes and trees are in bud and in the next few days they will be in full bloom.

Time to start casting clouts everyone!

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