Lucidity Home Page
Quiero esta Ciudad pero esta Ciudad me Matan
As popular singing combo Gomez once put it:
I love this city but this city’s killing me
Sitting here in all this noise, man, I can’t get no sleep …
It is now officially too noisy to get a good afternoon’s kip. El Diario de Cádiz (Cádiz Daily) reported in June that measurements proved us to be “a noisy city in the noisiest country in the world, after Japan”. Most of the blame for the levels averaging just over the World Health Organisation’s recommended maximum of 65 decibels, even during siesta time, is directed at cars; “the intense running of the traffic in the city” contributing sufficient racket to more than make up for the lack of heavy industry, the culprit in normal places.
The discothèques along the Paseo Maritimo in the new town were also identified as major contributors to this unhealthy state of affairs: “the noise in the street is not a direct cause of illness but it irritates the nerves and perturbs the rest”. I had noticed.
It says here that pneumatic drills can reach a volume well over double the accepted limit. That must explain why the work that goes on in the next street can get quite loud. I’d never have known — mainly because the drills can only be heard in those rare moments when the workers renovating the building next door stop hammering. Honestly, there’s more banging going on there than in a Bangkok brothel during happy hour. Despite the Andalucian reputation for indolence, these guys are on the job (I refer to the work force, not the occupants of the brothel) at exactly eight o’clock every weekday morning. I have visions of a man standing with a large mallet poised a few inches from the wall behind my peacefully sleeping head, staring expectantly at his foreman. As soon as the latter’s highly accurate watch, synchronised with the atomic clock at the headquarters of the World Irritation Organisation in Zurich, shows eight, he gives the signal and Manuel and his colleagues begin their arrhythmic pounding, amid much hilarity. A rota is organised so that there will, at any given time, be at least two hammers being beaten against differently resonating materials at totally unrelated speeds.
What I want to know is, exactly what is it all achieving? Peering through the holes where windows used to be, there has been no sign of progress in all the months I’ve been here. She of the swimming pool eyes told me that it was going on when she moved in, a year ago now. Is it some Keynesian work creation scheme? Are they just hammering on things to give the impression of work, knowing that there is so little to be had in “the unemployment capital of Spain”, that they cannot afford to complete the task? Or do they just like to keep me awake? Thank heaven – and the South End Green pharmacy – for earplugs.
Whatever the purpose of this activity, it goes on steadily until two, when they all repair to the bar next door for lunch. Peace! Peace until six.
Well, for one thing, it isn’t peace and for another, it isn’t until six. The bar beneath me is so full of shouting, laughter and spontaneous flamenco singing during siesta time that the noise it generates would not fit on the bar chart in the newspaper. And the workers restart at three. The only good thing is that they do then stop at six, to give themselves a chance to get into the centre of town for the last three hours of shopping time.
But the noise doesn’t stop. Ever. The hubbub in the street goes on well after sundown and, once the bar has closed at two the street sweeper comes by. As well as his sweeping duties I believe he also activates the tiny five megawatt p.a. systems used by the crickets. And why do his colleagues on the dustcart come past to empty the bins at two am? And again at three? And four?! Are people sneaking out to fill their bins with malodorous rubbish at two thirty in the morning? Perhaps it’s a case of, “I can’t sleep with all this racket, Consuela. I’m going to get up and gut some fish.” “Okay dear. Just make sure you put the rubbish out when you’ve done”
And it’s all punctuated, all hours of the day and night, by the passing mosquitos, the trail bikes that many of the young folk use to get around. Although there are quite a few scooters, favoured by many of the lasses and though anyone who can afford one is very proud of having a serious motorbike, the irritant of choice for most cool chicos is the mosquito. Silencers? These things are fitted with amplifiers. They zoom down the narrow streets like a fart out of hell, their drivers and passengers insouciantly perched on the seats, feet millimetres from the road. Boys and girls, boys and boys, girls and girls: today I even saw a man shoot past me with a humungous hairy dog (perhaps it was a small grizzly bear) standing calmly, sideways, on the platform of his scooter, watching the blurred world as it flew past his snout.
Is it any wonder I’m forced to retreat to that darned beach? Oh well, better get back there, I suppose.
I said, “BETTER GET BACK …”. Oh, forget it.
Lucidity Home Page