Richard Herring: Blaring music hits a bum note
Wednesday 5 Nov 2014
I was on a busy train, when the relative silence of the carriage was disturbed by the sound of music.
Someone had made the not-at-all-selfish decision to listen to his tunes via his phone loudspeaker. It was nice and loud too. How considerate to allow us all to hear. And the fact the content was of a mildly sexual nature was also educational for any kids in the vicinity.
I looked around, expecting to see some teenagers intent on testing the limits of acceptable behaviour, but the perpetrator was a grown man. Old enough to know that only a dick would behave like this.He looked quite tough and naturally I assumed that this was some kind of trap. If I complained he might take umbrage at my attempt to challenge his basic human rights and start punching me in my fascistic face.
Fear and Britishness meant no one was doing anything, except catching the eye of other passengers and looking upwards in disbelief as if to say, ‘What can you do?’ But I decided not to be cowed by this aural bully. I turned around and asked him quite politely if he could put on his headphones.
‘Sorry,’ he replied, slightly slurringly, ‘Someone stole my headphones.’
‘Well…’ I replied, though left it at that, reluctant to take the risk of saying, ‘That’s very sad, but it’s your tough faeces. You won’t be able to listen to your music in public until you’re bought some more.’ The other passengers were on my side and admired my bravery, but not enough to intervene about it if my head was being smashed against a window like an overripe watermelon.
‘You haven’t got any headphones I could borrow, have you?’ he asked hopefully. Was this his game all along? Annoy some strangers until one of them gives you stuff. Perhaps he hangs out (in all senses) naked in clothes shop or stands by the counter in Greggs until his rumbling stomach makes them give him a pasty just so he’ll leave.
I had some headphones, but I didn’t want them going into the waxy ears of an inconsiderate idiot.
‘It’s a good song luckily,’ he opined incorrectly. However broad your own choice of music it’s unlikely to meet the approval of a random cross-section of commuters. Hence the system where everyone chooses their own music.
I wanted to say, ‘Listen mate, I like the smell of my own farts, but I wouldn’t subject everyone in a train carriage to them.’ This wasn’t entirely true. Occasionally I will foist my gut-gas on an unsuspecting public, usually by accident, though sometimes out of pure selfishness and hatred of humanity. It’s like a very low-grade terrorist chemical attack. I don’t want to kill anyone, but in my darkest of moods it can be gratifying to slightly spoil a stranger’s day with a silent but deadly spurt of bum-fog. It also creates a whodunnit mystery for the carriage, which I like to think brightens up their humdrum lives. If only this was as far as Al Qaeda pushed things we’d be much more open to their philosophies. We’d still dislike them, because of the farts. But might agree to embrace Sharia Law if they promised to stop farting on trains.
What I am saying is playing your music out loud in a train carriage is as bad as farting. Probably worse, because of the lack of whodunnit aspect.
My intervention worked though. He let the song play through to save face, but then turned off the music. The real Alpha male in the carriage had been established.