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Noise Pollution On The Tube

Published 10 February 2010

What is about London and noise pollution? Ever since I have moved into central London it seems to be a constant bone of contention, and I could only laugh to myself in amusement when I spotted those very words, ‘noise pollution’ etched onto a tube train door several months ago.

So, is this something all of us battle with, or just the unlucky few of us? Am I the only one to spot a suitable seat on the tube home, only to instinctively move to the opposite end of the carriage on hearing the blaring sound of iPods, determined to have a quiet ride home? Very recently I had to endure the noise of a young girl’s iPod in the next seat, which even by my standards was verging on ridiculous. I could only plug my fingers in my ears in defeated annoyance in the hope that she might turn it down, but had to make do with a pitying look from a lady in the seat opposite. As I got off the train, I did all I could to stop myself saying ‘’next time you should be more considerate’’ – resisting the urge to come over all mumsy.

Just yesterday evening I got into the carriage, managing to bag myself a seat, then grabbed a Metro newspaper and settled in for the journey.  Cue loud iPod, a young man in semi-formal workwear, arms crossed defiantly, listening to some sort of gangster-style tune.  I threw him a dozen pleading glances, and my eyes skirted the carriage for a sensible male city worker who would have the muster to ask him to turn it down. But,  no one did. ‘’Oh, he’s reaching into his pocket’’, I thought, holding my breath that he might have the heart to turn it down a notch. But, no, he just changed the track! I had to laugh, then breathe a sigh of relief when he’d gotten off, and the rest of us passengers could enjoy the peace and quiet, that which should surely be owed to you after a long day’s work!?

Similarly, recently on a commute back to Surbiton, everyone was settled in for their journey, newspaper in hand, frozen stare intact, convenient avoidance of eye contact mastered.  Enter Mr Loud, looming over me, who began to steadily annoy most of the passengers in my sphere of sight. I did my best impression of the disgruntled ‘is-he-for-real’ fidgeting passenger, using this subtle but ineffective tactic to hopefully deter him from ruining the whole journey. But, alas and alack, on he went, practically shouting down his phone. By now I’d noticed at least two other people who were annoyed and after we had exchanged several knowing looks, and lots of rolling of eyes, I finally couldn’t contain my laughter as he continued blissfully unaware.  Mr Loud (and annoying) eventually got off the phone – cue group sigh – then preceded to crack open a big bar a chocolate and make annoying phlegm snorting noises for the rest of the journey.

So, is it the Englishness in us that makes us tolerate these things? Should there be a law against loud iPods and inconsiderate phone conversations? Or am I just getting old?  I would have to say yes to all of the above, but until people start to become more considerate, I may have to start plugging my ears up and taking a book for the duration of my journey. When in London…

Article written by Jeanine Hack.

  • Julia Clough

    I think it encourages you to get very zen with it all. Try and zone out and focus within, Im sure your thoughts sound better there.