Someone I know in the UK recently took to social media to loudly complain about noise. This was not about noise in general (although knowing him, it could well have been) no, this was about an Indian food festival taking place in a park next to his house and he was quite beside himself about - a) the noise of exotic sounding sitars and suchlike, plus - b) the unmistakable smell of hundreds of ‘Ruby Murray’s all cooking away pleasantly on a Sunday afternoon.
As this chap lives in Bournemouth and probably wears a tie in bed, it’s not very hard for me to imagine him being outraged about almost anything of an ethnic variety. Never mind I thought and contacted him via social media and rather cheekily asked him - if he had to choose, what would he prefer, a strong smell or very loud music? After a lecture about Brexit treachery, illegal immigrants and why Sir Kier Starmer should be taken outside and shot twice (just in case) he confessed that loud music was the curse of the age. And do you know, this is the first time I’ve actually agreed with him on anything since Mr Turner’s geography class during the 1960’s when I used to copy his homework instead of doing it myself.
It is a mixture of pain and pleasure to have lived and worked for many years in what is a lovely, but very loud island. Mallorcans nor the Spanish in general, ever do anything quietly do they? A day at the beach equals ear splitting shouts and squeals, interspersed with the sounds of kids being walloped and music being played very loudly and slightly-off-kilter. It’s the same at mealtimes, a melee of random noises and scrapping furniture as everyone plays musical chairs for four hours.
However, I do have to say that this horrendous racket is rather better than watching a typical British family lunching together al fresco, to the sound of nothing at all, save the boiling resentment of two young teenage kids sulkily chewing their food whilst looking like they could quite possibly disembowel their parents given half a chance. I suppose noise is one of those things that can cause huge resentment in some folk, yet in others, draw no more than a shrug and a - “Get a life will you” sideways glance, if you so much as mention the decibel level.
I have this theory that young Spanish men in souped-up, and low-slung motor cars, actually turn up the volume of the incomprehensible rap music track being issued forth from their car at about the same level as a jet taking off when they see me standing quietly at a zebra crossing. The thump, thump - of the baseline making my heart palpitate madly and my cheeks wobble about.
This brings me neatly, if somewhat predictably, to local village and community fiestas. For although we are coming to the end of the summer fiesta season and I suspect that this year has been somewhat quieter than previous years, I seem to remember one local authority organised an outside fiesta gig that was held in Magalluf a couple of years ago being clearly heard in Porto Portals.
Indeed, I have a mate who lives in Andratx town and he long ago gave up trying to sleep at night on certain weekends, turning up for work bleary eyed and listless, humming mid 70’s chart-toppers driven into his brain by some cut-price, karaoke crooner with a receding hairline.
And if you’re really unlucky and live in Paguera - imagine the joy of an ‘Oompa-Oompa’ band keeping you awake half the night?
So then, my miserable old friend’s moan about a bit of sitar music and the fragrant smell of a curry on a Sunday afternoon in his local park, is as nothing compared to what residents of Mallorca have to put up with on hot summer nights. But do you know - we wouldn’t have it any other way, would we?