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Thursday, 25 April, 2002, 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK
In search of peace and quiet
If you're in an office like mine, there'll be several phones ringing (at least one of which will be a mobile abandoned on a desk), the rattle of keyboards, the hum of the air conditioning and the burble of half-heard conversations.
We live in an increasingly noisy world. And the more you listen the louder it all seems.
Keep hanging on
More than two-thirds of Britons now own a mobile phone.
Not only do these handy gadgets allow millions to conduct seemingly one-sided conversations in public - or beep away as we text - each and every one of us has at some point "tested" the ringing tones within earshot of some hapless listener.
Ever seen the incredibly annoying phone user bellowing "I'm in a RESTAURANT" (cinema, gallery, bookshop...) in comedian Dom Joly's sketch show? That's you, that is.
No sleep in the flight path
And despite the European Court of Human Rights ruling that night flights at Heathrow breached residents' right to an undisturbed sleep, these have continued as the government is appealing against the decision.
Pump up the volume
Even when we're alone, we don't really like to be all by ourselves.
And those sat at a computer have a worldwide web of choices open to them. Radio audiences are reaching a record high in the UK as more internet users tune in while they surf.
Not from these parts
Social conditioning can determine which noises get your back up.
Or you've bought an inner-city pad in a converted warehouse, and have united with fellow apartment dwellers against the noisy revellers who insist on partying in the bars lining your quayside.
Honestly. What did you expect?
Rest in peace
Ah, the sweet sound of wind chimes in the breeze - but when the breeze gets up, the tranquil tinkling turns to discordant jangling.
Not only has the New Age fad for chimes led to unpleasant scenes between neighbours, councils and clergy are being swamped with complaints about chimes in cemeteries up and down the UK.
At Stafford Cemetery, where 130 chimes have distracted mourners and driven away wildlife, staff have slapped a ban on the rowdy graveside tributes.
In the United States, the League for the Hard of Hearing marked last year's International Noise Awareness Day by conducting a noise tour of eight main cities.
With a diner in Chicago and a Starbucks in Los Angeles topping 70 decibels, that's the equivalent of a small orchestra striking up at the next table.
In 1996, the World Health Organisation declared noise to be a significant threat to health. Earlier it recommended that we should have the right to decide the quality of the acoustic climate in which we live.
Now if someone could just point that out to the guy in the upstairs flat who insists on using power tools and mallets at 8am...
What noises wind you up? And is it even possible to find peace and quiet these days? Let us know using the form below. Here's some of your comments so far:
My teenage neighbours listen to rap and techno music together, each in his own flat. They open the windows and turn the music up. At the end of each track, they scream comments from balcony to balcony.
Trevor Lawrence, St Martin NA
There is nothing that equals the silence of a glider cockpit at height. No engines, no mobiles, no music - just the gentle hiss of the wind. Can't beat it.
Neighbours who go clubbing every night, returning at 3am only to continue loud into the night. When asked to consider their neighbours one morning, they shouted at me for waking them up.
I can't control flights from Luton or racing cars in LA but I'm going to speak in low voice so only the person to whom I'm speaking can listen; control my TV volume so neighbours or people in other rooms cannot listen.
Chris, Somerset, England
Whilst on holiday in Istanbul, I took a boat trip to an island famed for allowing no cars. I was looking forward to a relaxing afternoon - an opportunity to unwind, to think in peace. What greeted me? A bar playing loud trance music and hundreds of mobiles ringing.
More people should be made aware of the damage that can be done by attending concerts, nightclubs, pubs etc. I have developed tinnitus which means silence is more irritating than background noise. Sleep is disturbed and according to the medical people there is no going back - be careful out there!
The incessant and badly rung bells at the local church every second Friday evening - how hard is it to "ding-dong" and not "dong-ding"?
M Slater, UK
It's true - neither are you allowed to drill, hammer etc on a Sunday or between noon and 3pm any other day. Professional "handymen" can carry on all day, but still not on Sundays.
The constant "dah da-da-da da-dah, clunk clunk thud ching" of the gaming machine in my local when I'm trying to have a quiet lunchtime pint and read my paper.
Screaming kids in supermarkets - I don't mind my own kids playing up but when someone else's start I feel like screaming back. Then there is the York Ghost Tour guide - every night he shouts "bring out your dead" outside my window. On Halloween we threw a "corpse" from the second floor.
Surely it has gone too far when a bartender cannot hear you yelling your drinks order over the "background" music.
Sam Chapman, Japan
I'm now in a totally quiet environment but the humming of the fan in my PC is really starting to get on my nerves.
I live near Luton Airport but it's not the planes that are noisy - there's some open land nearby and someone rides their dirt bike on it in the early hours. It sounds like an angry wasp in a baked bean tin. And my neighbour and his mates laughing and shouting at something on his new satellite TV at 2.30am.
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