Kate Livingstone: Turn down the volume please

Pollution is certainly a dirty word these days - whether we're being warned about the dangers of breathing in car exhaust fumes or hear about some large-scale disaster when oil or some other substance pours into our rivers and oceans.

But the thing that really annoys me is noise pollution.

Believe me, I’d happily get on my soapbox and shout about it ... but that would make me as bad as those I complain about.

Do you think some people don’t realise that we don’t all want to hear their conversation? I’m sure you’ve experienced it too. The couple who can’t have a quiet conversation as they walk down the street but must shout at the top of their voices.

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I can’t tell you how often I’ve had to stop myself from asking them, quietly of course, to turn it down a few decibels because I really don’t want to know what they are going to have for their dinner.

Then there is the really annoying person who doesn’t realise that although they may be travelling on public transport that doesn’t have to mean that their phone conversations have to be public too!

I used to wonder why they had quiet carriages on trains but on a journey to York recently I certainly wished that I’d booked myself on their rather than listen to the person opposite me.

Now I know all about the work colleague she can’t stand, where she wants to go summer holidays and what her boyfriend better be buying her for her birthday if he want to remain her boyfriend!

Too much information dear.

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However, a few weeks ago a few of us went round to a friends house for a catch up and some lunch. It sounded like a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon and it was during that spell of nice weather which hopefully wasn’t our summer, so my friend had set up some tables in chairs in the garden.

Everything was going great until the man next door decided to begin some DIY – not sure what he was doing but it was certainly noisy and went on for ages.

Then the neighbours teenage son decided to play some music – at full volume with the window wide open. It wasn’t even my taste in music.

But the final straw was when the neighbours on the other side shouted cheerio ... and their two dogs began to howl at being left.

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“I thought you lived in a nice quiet street,” I said to my friend.

“Oh no, it’s always like this,” she said, “and it’s worse when it’s warm weather and everyone comes outdoors.”

That was enough to send us inside for some peace and quiet so we could hear what everyone had to say!

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