An Inappropriate Noise – September 2014

It’s 29 deg C, not a cloud in the sky and would be unbearable were it not for a slight sea breeze, stirring up the dust on the messy boat-yard floor, sending columns of iron filings skittering here and there.

There’s been relative peace for an hour, as boat-owners have retreated to the comparative shade of their half-finished, half-pressure washed, half-painted vessels for a brief bite to eat.

Shortly after 2.00 pm the first drill starts up, followed by a grinder and then a sanding machine. Tentative tapping converts into more confident rhythmic banging, and down the yard one of the crane engines roars into life.

From beneath our boat I peer over the top of my mask, keeping an eye on the approaching crane as I continue working the epoxy into the hull. The crane sidles perilously close to our stern, but Henri knows what he’s doing. Exhaust fumes permeate the sharp astringent odour of the resin.

A contractor’s vehicle passes through the yard and parks up at the back, raising dust-devils as it passes.

And then it starts.

Rising above the grinding, squealing, whining and hammering, a pounding rhythmic driving beat soars out, loud enough to wake the dead from here to Marseilles, before wailing guitars and screeching voices add to the score. A male voice joins intermittently in the cacophony; there barely seems to be a discernible tune there, but whatever it is the singer is familiar with it and hits all the right notes in all the right sequence.

WTF!!! I scramble from beneath the hull and storm down the yard towards the source of the abomination; the contractor’s vehicle stands there, every door wide open, the hatchback high in the air as the radio belts out at top volume. I contemplate entering the car and trying to locate the volume control, but I chicken out. If caught, there’s no way I can explain myself in French. And what if I press the wrong control?

Seething, I return to our boat and try to get as far away from the noise as I can. The pounding and wailing continues, but I’m aware that the grinding and squealing and hammering have stopped.

I hear raised voices. Two or three of those working on their boats have obviously had enough. A lot of shouting continues, arms are waved in exasperation – how is it possible to conduct an argument with that volume of sound around, I wonder? And then the music stops.

I see the man who must be the contractor shrugging his shoulders, shaking his head angrily but he’s turned off his car radio.

The tranquility of the boatyard is restored. People resume hammering, grinding, drilling and sanding. The high-pressure washer hisses contentedly.

We’re peacefully at one with our boats again.

The boarder has been repelled.

About Sandra

I cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and write fiction and poetry. I love animals, F1 motor racing, French bread and my husband, though not necessarily in that order.
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14 Responses to An Inappropriate Noise – September 2014

  1. vallypee says:

    Great post, Sandra! I can so relate to this 🙂 I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in boat yards…okay, so I live next to one. That might explain it!

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    • Sandra says:

      Thanks Val. It struck me as really funny. We used to cruise along the Grand Union some years back, and regularly passed a boatyard opposite which a new block of luxury apartments had been built. There was a big sign outside the boatyard saying, “This is a boat yard. We work on boats, and have done for 40 years. If the noise of what we do bothers you, don’t come and live here.” Succinct, or what? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Carole Grant says:

    I can’t imagine ANYTHING being more annoying that the noise that currently is masquerading as music! We get to haul out next week but we are the only boat in the yard. We WILL have the company of onlookers and shore-side experts (gongoozlers in the Nb world except we aren’t on a canal), likely many with opinions loudly and freely given. We will suddenly become conveniently deaf. Good reminder for the epoxy – we must find our good masks first!!

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  3. Well there is noise…and then there is NOISE!!! Ick! What a horrible way to start the day. But at least you didn’t have to be the one to do anything about it! Someone took care of it for you! 🙂

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    • Sandra says:

      It’s always difficult to vent your frustration in a foreign language, and sometimes I’ve had to remind myself to just say it… in English… for the sake of my blood pressure. The guys who took him to task were French I think, but the situation might not have been resolved if the contractor had realised I was English. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sandra, I tried to comment on this yesterday after I pressed the Like button, but I was having a lot of internet problems. There is absolutely too much noise pollution. One of the biggest problems here is people’s addiction to loud speakers. Indian music can be loud anyway, and they want to pump it through loud speakers. Sometimes it almost makes the walls rattle. I think a good many people here must be ruining their hearing. To that is added the addiciton to loud fireworks, even in hospital zones. Sometimes I think India could be invaded, a war start, and no one would notice. The wealthy keep moving out of the city and up into high buildings to try and get away from it. —Susan

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    • Sandra says:

      You are so right there Susan. I’ve got quite sensitive hearing too, which really exacerbates my irritation when there’s loud music or fireworks. Hope you are keeping well.

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  5. I am one of those cursed with a sensitivity to too much noise. It affects me so that I have to turn off the radio in my car when making any sort of tricky navigation….parallel parking, heading into unknown territory, etc. Somehow I feel you will understand this quirk of mine, Sandra.

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