Posted by: Splosher | 12/09/2010

Sirens, Buses and a wall of noise

Noise, I f**king hate it. Anything overtly loud really boils my blood and if there’s one thing that guarantees mental implosion, it’s a siren. Sirens – whether they are emitted from a Police car, ambulance or fire engine – are destroying my very existence in this farcical, reality facade we all have to dwell within, although my life is made immeasurably more depressing because I live in a first-floor flat ten yards adjacent to a main road. This means I’m continually bombarded by a cacophony of ear-splitting alarms at all hours, regardless of decorum or respect for the sleeping masses strung along the two mile stretch of Rochdale road that runs from my abode to the Royal Oldham hospital. Also, being placed just a couple of hundred yards away from a major four-way junction makes things even harder still, as all emergency vehicles blast out their warnings as they accelerate towards any potential blockage with their blue neon lights flashing and their electronic horns wailing, oblivious to all and sundry.

I understand that time is of the essence when dealing with an emergency call-out, as the intended recipients of these mobile life-savers are in dire need of help and I for one would never wish to detract from the unselfish work these ‘Blues-and-twos angels’ potentially offer. However, no matter how aware I may be of their essential role in society, just the off-in-the-distance aural pip of a siren instigates a complete change in my physiological make-up: a tightening of my muscles as a flash of adrenaline is released, quickly followed by a hot flush of rage and an increasing cringing wince as the offensive sound gets closer and closer to my position. At the crescendo of the passing siren outside my window, I’m pacing back and forth, slamming windows shut and shouting at the top of my voice, completely lost in the fury of what seems like a perpetual attack on my eardrums. Then, as the noise begins to subside in the opposite direction, my erupting bodily functions begin to ebb and return to their normal levels once more, although depending on where the emergency is based and how important, my rage can be fluctuating up and down for hours.

I know myself that my reaction to an essential part of our life is a pathetic one but I just cannot avoid reacting to a grating noise of an urgent situation flashing past my periphery and so, I’m left feeling personally abused by our emergency services. In an ideal world, I should be spending more of my time outside and not festering one story above a straight stretch of tarmac but in an ideal world, I would have money in my pocket and a car to escape in, neither of which I seem to possess at the moment, so the irritation continues. I’ve even begun to formulate quite simply moronic ideas to resolve the problem and have arrived at the following idiotic conclusion: to sue the local NHS for personal discomfort and distress. This is mainly due to the fact that most of the noise comes from ambulances flying along the main road and as such, their luminous checker-boarded sides receive more venom from me as they flash past. In doing so, I achieve peace and quiet for not only myself but everyone else on the main road section from the local hospital as it’s been made illegal for any emergency vehicle to blare their horns. I know it’s the ramblings of a barely-contained, primordial cretin but still it’s one way of elevating the paranoid delusions awash in my brain, and I can immediately spot the error in my supposed genius…

Let’s say for argument’s sake that I need an ambulance for a life-threatening emergency: I’m laying there, heart palpitating and breathlessly trying to breathe waiting for the arrival of the life-saving NHS. The ambulance arrives, they assess my condition, decide it is a crisis situation and off we whizz towards the hospital; however, with just a mile to go, the ambulance hits a traffic jam. In the back I’m screaming through an oxygen mask to the driver, “For f**k’s sake, put the sirens on!” The driver replies, “I’m sorry Sir but we’re not allowed by law now to put the sirens on, thanks to a bloke who sued us for excessive noise…” As my soul drifts off from my still-warm body and I look down upon the ambulance crew and doctors bravely trying to resurrect my limp form, I’m pretty sure I’d be pissed off with myself for attaining a public ban on sirens!  

Anyway, there’s also another issue which has come to light recently that makes sirens academic now and it takes the form of First buses and their diesel-dumping engine valves as they pull into their bus stops. As I’m located on a main road, I have the dubious honour of having a purpose-built bus lane actually between the road and my flat and, as further luck would have it, two bus stops catering around ten different services standing virtually before my front windows. As the buses begin to slow down and stop for their fares, their vast engines dissipate a build-up of pressure via a dump valve and this near-constant “Pssst-psssting” occurs just 15 feet from my first-floor flat, every ten minutes or so, 18 hours a day, seven days a week. So, as bad as life may be with normal traffic passing by and the dreaded sirens, I’ve got to deal with the double-decker behemoths’ dropping their oily guts all over the road like vast, steel farting machines in a near-perpetual cycle of Hell.

Now, what can I really do about this public transport menace, when it’s an essential part of daily verve for the majority of people who’re out and about living life to the full, as opposed to someone like me who’s lounging around bitching and moaning about exaggerated noises? Not much, really except maybe, there may be a slim chance to redress the balance in my favour: I’d start with a reversal of the “Park and Ride” ethos the Greens have rammed down our throats and get everyone back into their gas-guzzling cars by fabricating a vast series of lies, backed by the world’s ecological scientists. Then, once the buses are off the road, lying in their numbers rotting away in the newly-created, carbon-soaked atmosphere, the Council will close the bus lane down outside my flat and public transport-specific sounds will be a thing of the past. Obviously Humanity as an entity will only have a short time left on planet Earth before we stew in our own juices due to the accelerated Greenhouse effect, but at least my hearing will enjoy the sound of silence before I drown in my own polluted phlegm.

So with those two issues covered, I just need a solution now for the problem of all the barking dogs around me and although I’m in the early planning stages, the future’s looking promising: genetic engineering in the hope of breeding the first silent canine in history. It’s going to be a long road – I have to learn how to manipulate DNA first and how to adjust billions of base pairs – but I’ve got a good feeling about the eventual outcome for these furry, mute bastards.

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