Summer brings the NOISE
In New York Max Neuhaus campaigned for police sirens to be less of an offence. I think we need a Neuhaus in Dalston. From my desk I am getting more and more rattled by the wheeping of police- zooming down Dalston Lane below me. They are set to give me a heart attack, or a twitch. I shut the windows, sit here and slowly poach until I’m a pale pink. Still the noise prevails. It seems worse now than it did a few months ago. Could it actually be noisier in summer than it is in winter? On a day like today (hot) engines sound raspier, more strained, all dried up and on the last rev before burn-out- which will probably happen just outside my window. Right now- it sounds like someone has crashed down there.
“What the f*** are you doing?”
“What- I was just crossing the road mate!”
“Look wha you done. Look! F****** scratched my f****** car!”
Natasha (my Canadian flat mate) stomps into my room. “What’s going on? Is that a fight happening?” We open the window, fold our arms over the ledge and look below. A small blue Citroën is now straddling both lanes. The driver’s door flung open. A black body builder in a florescent T-shirt is furious. A small, wispy haired white guy is looking scared.
“Oh my god. He’s carrying a telescope.” Natasha says. We both giggle.
“I was just trying to cross the road!”
“You want some?”
“Whoa- where did that come from. Hey, dude, stop fighting!” Natasha yells. Despite being ten metres above them, they don’t hear this. Hippie man foolishly places his telescope on the ground in front of Angry Driver; a sacrificial offering, a buffer maybe? A booby trap to either trip or bewilder his assailant? None of these. Driver hops over it, swings his legs at Hippie’s heel. He crashes down, gets up swiftly, biffs Driver’s enormous bicep and gets biffed back. They jump in circles around each other, fists clenched, swiping the hot air. Sweat pours down Driver’s forehead, Hippie turns a deep pink. Driver’s passenger gets out the car, slams the door and storms down Dalston Lane without looking back. The traffic is now at grid lock. I can feel the accumulative throttle vibrate through my body, through Natasha’s.
“Hey! I said stop fighting!” Natasha yells.
“Stop fighting!” I yell.
“We should call the police” She says. I’m on the verge of saying no. I can’t handle any more noise, any more action. But then a ripping WHEEP cuts through the commotion. Natasha and I nearly fall off our perch- struck down by the din. Hippie scoops up his telescope. He wields his tripod at Angry Driver who- in his last bout of rage- kicks his own car. And the whole debacle folds in on itself. No one’s a winner. Hippie is now full steam, hot footing it down Dalston Lane, whipping round, hair flying, punching at the sun with his tripod. Angry (most likely at himself) Driver speeds off to find his now angry passenger. Police reach the scene- which is now just loads of cars parked up on the pavement to allow them through- and fail to shut down their sirens. Wheep wheep wheep. The noise is deafening. Revelry at The Three Compasses has stalled.
“Yo- in Canada- police sirens are not that loud!” Natasha yells at me.
We resume places in our respective rooms. I read online that warm air is ‘stiffer’ than cold. The molecules are (as I’m typing this) moving around with more energy.
“Watch where you’re going,” screams another angry man on this hot afternoon.
The air is not as elastic when warm, I read, molecules are bumping into each other. I can’t help but compare this crashing of molecules to the crashing around of people below me, moving faster, creating more ruckuses. Then there’s global warming. “For each degree rise in temperature, the speed of sound in air increases by 0.6 meters per second.” Does this mean that ‘peace and quiet’ will soon become a fossilised notion? A few generations forward and silence may be a thing of the past. There is no aural rest in the heart of Dalston. There may be less and less to come. Everything- from this moment right here- seems to be heating up. I like peace, and the quiet.
Should I/we be scared?