Saturday, February 17, 2007

Sounds That Screech and Soothe

Sounds of the Seaside
Mr. Gilbert Thomas wrote to the British Weekly concerning an experience that befell him at a popular seaside resort. After a busy day, he was compelled to spend the night there and accordingly secured a room that promised him the rest he needed. But—

Almost as soon as he retired, people began to promenade along the passage past his door, even assembling in the vicinity to titter, giggle and exchange raucous inanities. Then he discovered that he was next door to the bathroom. Although an enthusiast for cleanliness, he somehow found no pleasure in listening to the ablutions of his fellow-guests.

Later on, a theatre round the corner disgorged its crowd of patrons on to the pavement and all the cars that had been parked in every alley and by-way woke up simultaneously. 'What a commotion! What maneuverings for position! What imperious hootings for right of way! What changings of gear!' Still later, a loud speaker vomited jazz, and, after this, the shunting of trains began. And then—

'Suddenly, after all these noises, there was—not silence. There was something better: there was sound. At first I could not think what that semi-distant sound—low and persistent—could be. I only knew that it was infinitely sweet and soothing and that it would have been equally welcome had it been nearer and louder. Then I remembered that I was at a popular seaside resort. I was listening to—the sea!'

Source: F W Boreham, ‘My Scallop-Shell of Quiet’, The Passing of John Broadbanks (London: The Epworth Press, 1936), 17-18.

Image: ‘a loud speaker vomited jazz.’