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British Expat Newsletter:
29 March 2006

Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.

In this issue

  • This week:
    • Calling Africa!
    • Noise
  • Virtual Snacks
  • Bizarre Searches
  • Quotation and joke

This week

Calling Africa! – Most of the feedback and contributions we receive come from regions other than Africa. Of course, we’re delighted to hear from our readers wherever they are. But it would be especially great to hear more from our readers on the African continent so we can make the newsletter more relevant to you too. Why not drop us a line?

Noise

Is it noisy where you live?

Living in London we were used to a fairly constant background traffic roar, plus the succession of transatlantic aircraft preparing to turn north and westward before landing at Heathrow. But otherwise our street wasn’t particularly noisy. Of course, there are fairly stringent noise pollution laws in the UK. Not that defining excessive noise as a statutory nuisance necessarily means that much – getting the council to respond effectively to complaints about noise is a tough challenge.

But it’s no different in other countries. New Delhi has legislation about acceptable noise levels, but those living within a mile of the (government-owned) Ashok Hotel in Chanakyapuri would attest to its lack of effectiveness, especially during the wedding season. (The record while we were in Delhi was some kind of music festival. It went on at top volume for nine days and nights…)

Holiday resorts – especially beach resorts – are obvious hotspots for noise, with hotel discos, fun fairs, nightclubs and even just everyday beer bars pumping out the music. Goa is alleged to be one of the noisiest places on earth – though surprisingly the natives rate religious festivals and cricket commentaries as the major problems, and the legendary rave parties don’t even get a look in!

Even in quieter areas there may still be annoyances. Not that the overall level of sound is as high as in the cities, it’s just that the louder noises don’t have to compete with the background roar. Karaoke seems to be the No.1 bar entertainment in Thailand generally – it’s rare to find a bar catering for locals which doesn’t have a machine on the go. And of course wherever you have neighbours, you get their sounds too. Sometimes it’s the artificial ones, with the stereo or the telly cranked up at all kinds of unearthly hours (like nine o’clock in the morning – though that may be the cleaner rather than the householder). But there’s the more natural sounds, too, like dogs barking at every passer-by or howling in concert in the dead of night, or my own pet favourite, the 24/7 cockerel. Grrr!

Does noise really matter, though? Clearly most Britons think it does, hence the legislation. I’m not just talking about the statutory nuisance I mentioned earlier, though that can obviously be a problem. It’s a health hazard too. Hearing loss caused by noisy machinery at work has long been recognised as an occupational disease. In fact, it’s such a problem that the Health & Safety Executive is introducing new regulations to control noise at work more tightly, from 6 April. (NB – this only covers Great Britain; Northern Ireland has its own legislation.)

But perceptions about whether noise is a good thing vary widely between cultures. Out of interest I tried some Internet searches for various terms to see what would emerge. The results weren’t necessarily a big surprise, but may be indicative of how different societies view noise:

  • “noise UK” and “noise Europe” results were mainly about environmental policy
  • “noise Asia” were all about pop groups
  • “noise Mexico” turned up an interesting letter about, guess what, noise in Mexico – see the Virtual Snacks below
  • “noise Nigeria” results were mainly about jobs to control noise in the petrochemical industry
  • “noise Finland”, again, were mainly about environmental issues
  • “noise New Zealand” was half pop, half environment
  • and finally, “noise Tanzania” – on the first page of results: “Tanzania suffers rise of witchcraft hysteria. … I got up to see about the noise and someone grabbed me and chopped off my arm with a machete. … ” Maybe they have different priorities to worry about there.

So how can you deal with noisy neigbours anyway? Suggestions include relaxation CDs (I think I’d rather have the noise!); faxing the police every day (yeah, right); and taking notes to record the times and frequency of the crimes. On the other hand you can just do as the guy in Mexico recommends and turn up your own stereo to drown out all the others.

Do you have anything to say about this topic, or do you have some suggestions for other issues we might discuss in our weekly email? Why not comment and tell us?

Virtual Snacks

Here’s an interesting little piece about noise in Mexico. It seems that earplugs are essential unless you have the ability to sleep in the middle of a battlefield.
Stan Gotlieb’s Letters from Mexico: Noise

If you want to find out more about the new Health & Safety regs, or just want to read about noise at work generally, here’s a link to the HSE’s pages:
Health & Safety Executive: Noise

And here’s where to find out about noise pollution more generally in the UK:
DEFRA: Noise Pollution (England)

[We had similar links for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland but they’ve been removed as they were obsolete.]

Bizarre Searches

Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:

  • vending machine fish stuff
  • coffeeology poster
  • history of marmalade
  • what to say about having weird lunch
  • show how to have sex pitchers
  • british living in mexican
  • horrible hair
  • drying clothes whilst naked
  • haggis fable
  • how many years does it take to make a castle?
  • keeping mum cornwall
  • royal marines funny footage

Till next time…
Happy surfing!

Kay
Editor
British Expat Magazine

Quotation

“One coin in the money-box makes more noise than when it is full.”

– Arabian Proverb

Joke

Noise abatement rules

A newly-qualified pilot had just received clearance for departure from a major airport. Standing instructions at the airport were for aircraft taking off to turn for noise abatement. The pilot, who was flying a Cessna 172 (a light single-engined monoplane), was confused by this instruction. So when the airport tower confirmed his clearance, he decided to ask about it…

Tower: “Cessna 6 Hotel Victor, cleared for take-off. When you’re airborne, make an immediate turn to the right, heading 060.”

Pilot: “Tower, this is Cessna 6 Hotel Victor, please verify how a 172 can be involved in noise abatement.”

Tower: “Cessna 6 Hotel Victor, if you don’t turn right, it’s gonna make a hell of a noise when that Airbus on final hits you!”

PG Author: Kay McMahon

Kay has been an expat for nearly 30 years. She set up the British Expat website back in early 2000, whilst living in London and missing the expat life. These days she spends much of her time lugging computers and cameras around the world. (Dave gets to deal with all the really heavy stuff.)

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