A bit of hum and rattle on the tracks …


            Something exciting for us all to look forward to is the imminent introduction of classical music to railway stations.

            This is not for the benefit of those of us who love classical music – it’s more in keeping with the ‘music soothes the savage breast’ thing. Yep – because it’s a well known fact you wouldn’t be able to muster up the enthusiasm for whanging a pensioner on the back of the head to the strains of Handel’s Water Music. You’d be more inclined to visit the restroom. The thought of acquiring a dog-eared pension card, three fluff-encrusted polo mints and the pre-decimal equivalent of $3.20 would go right out the window, wouldn’t it? It works for me, anyway. Not to mention your urban Bovver Boy, who’d presumably feel totally mellowed out and have an overwhelming urge to crochet a lime-green nylon swan for covering his granny’s spare toilet roll. As you would. Classical music would knock the edge off any intended shenanigans you might have considered perpetrating on a railway platform. Unless, of course, it was the 1812 Overture (with cannons), in which case there wouldn’t be a pensioner left standing and bugger the crochet.

            They’ve used music in supermarkets for ages – to make us buy stuff we don’t want. It’s a brilliant concept. Any marketing person worth their salt is well aware Barry Manilow reminds us of eating sweets in the back row of some fleapit back in ’74 when we had more reasonably distributed flesh and the attentions of a spotty youth in a purple jacket called Graham. That’s the youth being called Graham, not the jacket. One croon from Barry and we’re off down the confectionery aisle as if we can revisit our perfidy with a box of Jaffas and a kilo of microwave popcorn.

            While music in fast food outlets is designed to make us eat faster and get out sooner (so they get a rapid turnover and we get indigestion), the supermarket variety is the ‘linger longer’ type – so you moon around in a stupor and forget what you came in for in the first place. When you get home with the Jaffas and stuff, some smartarse will say, “Where the hell’s the milk?’ Still in the refrigerated cabinet, obviously – because you were having fun wafting around with a soundtrack, pretending you had pert breasts and buttocks which looked mighty fine in a black vinyl skirt.

            There is a marketing opportunity here. The possibilities for the development of useful soundtracks for all occasions are limited only by your imagination. Consider – music to make kids hurry up in the shower. Or better still, recordings of times tables so they’re forced to actually learn something while they’re letting your heard-earned water trickle down the drain. And Doris Day numbers which start playing when the ‘fridge door is opened so teenagers don’t stand there staring in for half an hour with their eyes glazing over, hoping something interesting might materialise. Which it won’t, seeing as I’ve eaten it.

            Then there’s that popular choice for parents to pop in teens’ Christmas stockings this year – ‘Music for Hoons to Drive To’. There’s an opening for a bit of Bach here. Almost impossible to do road rage to, and takes away your credibility during ram raids.

            Waiting on the telephone for six years to get an insurance quote could be made halfway bearable if companies had the teensiest clue what the public really wanted. It’s obvious nobody has really looked into the problem with any great intelligence. Instead of the crappy 60s Muzak, it would say; ‘Press 4 to hear a really decent sticky date pudding recipe’; or ‘Dial 8 for Harrison Ford’s extremely positive opinion of your wit and beauty’; or (for men) – ‘Helga is waiting to teach you Swedish … just press 3 after the beep’. You wouldn’t feel cranky anymore and they could add a bit extra to the insurance quote. By the time you got it, you’d be feeling no pain.

            Noise in general can make or break you. There are radio stations which make listeners want to rape and pillage. There are decibels pouring down on you from every which way – and most will not be to your liking.

            Live in hope – at least you’ll be able to rely on a bit of Beethoven on the 9.45 to Central …





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