Yesterday would have been Matthew’s 26th birthday had he still been around. They day was one of those days where one gets to thinking. Having a small breakfast room off the kitchen allows the wife and I to have breakfast together more now. However, we got thinking, is this because we have a dedicated room with no television, no radio and only the birds in the garden for distraction or is it because we are getting older and now spend more time sitting cogitating and less time rushing around. We like to think it is the former but the latter may be also true. However, those that know me would say the latter would never be the case.
Anyway we were sat in our room our youngest daughter joining us, with the sunshine falling on us and the birds eating the food we had put out – me with my ‘special K and fruit’, she with her ‘start and yoghurt’ and our daughter with a yoghurt and fruit – we started talking, as we now do, and thought about the tranquility of the morning. Was it tranquil, we asked, because we were lost in thought for our son whose birthday it would have been. A candle is lit each year on his birthday and slowly burns during the day. It probably has another four years life in it. Or was the tranquility because there was no background noise (bar nature’s voice and the odd siren). We noted that when our daughter worked in a clothing shop there was continual background noise. I was reminded of a conversation I had with the manager of another clothing store. It sent something like:-
Me “Is there anywhere I can sit quietly and wait for my wife and daughter whilst they shop?”
Me “Why not?”
Manager “No need.”
Me “But surely as I am the one who is going to pay for the goods that my wife and daughter may want to purchase you need to keep me 1) in the shop and 2) happy. A few seats set aside for fathers away from the incessant noise would be a good idea, or just a chair next to a pillar for me to sit on and read my newspaper.”
Manager “No it would not, there is no call for it.”
He clearly did not see the benefits, unlike many of the large shops in the US, where fathers are catered for with arm chairs and free copies of newspapers. That day I left the shop, telling my family I was leaving, which resulted in them also leaving and buying their clothes in a different shop.
Now-a-days there is an incessant noise pollution everywhere from shops to restaurants, from railway stations to hairdressers, even the doctor’s surgery. Radios blare out and the television appears to be on permenantly often just running repeats. The effect is that for many people the art of conversation is lost and the ability to co-habitate with our fellow human beings fails to be a pleasant experience, in many cases fails even to be an experience. Without the ability to communicate we fail to capitalise on the one thing that makes us different from the animals. As Pink Floyd pointed out on their Division Bell album using the electronic voice of Stephen Hawkins “For millions of years mankind lived just like the animals, Then something happenend which unleashed the power of our imagination, We learned to talk.” But the constant cacophony of sounds that bombard our ears mean that this art of communication is being lost. We need to talk to each other to ask for things, avoid conflict and to reward excellence. But if there is a unvarying and relentless assult on our brains we will be distracted so forgetting to communicate with our fellow humans.
As Stephen Hawkins said “It doesn’t have to be like this All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.” Well the wife and I have found in our little breakfast room that with the only sounds to interupt us being those God intended, the birds, a thunder storm or the dog barking we are able to communicate and it is enjoyable.
As for the manager of store who failed to see the benefits of looking after the fathers we have never been back and now I sit on a bench on the High Street (if sunny) or in a coffee shop with no background music (if not) read my newspaper waiting for the ladies in my life to join me.
Stephen Hawkins once said “Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking.” Take note you noise burghers.