I have come to the conclusion that noise is the one thing that will destroy all relationships in life.
We’re all more or less sensitive to it; but for some it is the element that pushes us over the edge and causes rational beings to snap.
Case in point: how do you have a vital village without having the noise associated with businesses? Everyone wants to be able to walk outside and get their bread every morning, or run down the street to the butcher shop to pick up something for lunch. But having businesses means that you’re going to have noise.
Bakers bake in the middle of the night, their machinery is loud. They have “things” that run with loud motors. If you happen to live right next door to the bakery, the sounds are gonna get you. Especially during the warmer months when people want to keep their windows open. So, which is worse: being hot inside or having the noise of the bakery coming through your window?
Same thing with the butcher shop: commercial refrigeration units have powerful motors. It’s impossible to keep the food cold any other way.
There are also the people who come to shop in their cars, stop in the middle of the street without really parking and leave their engines running while they make their purchases. That makes for a powerful combination of noise and pollution.
But what about the neighbors? I think it’s really a dilemma without an answer. Personally, I’m not bothered by either of these things (well, the badly parked cars with their engines running are annoying), but I know people who are. Not being able to get a good night’s sleep because of the noises makes people go a little crazy I think.
During the day, the worst noises in any village, in my opinion, come from the hideous little motorbikes that the kids tinker with to make them even noisier than they are to begin with. If you have them circling a village where the sound is trapped between old stone walls creating an amplifying tunnel, I assure you that you dream of knocking them over with a big stick. If you are trying to watch television or talk on the phone, you have to actually stop what you’re doing because it is impossible to hear anything.
Now that, unlike the motors of the various businesses, is actually illegal. The problem is that you can’t have a police force dedicated to doing nothing but give tickets to noise offenders. All of these things depends on individual civility and a certain sense of neighborliness.
Also, when you have village houses that share walls, you are also faced with shared noises. I know of a case where an elderly neighbor swears that he hears the people next door to him doing construction work in the middle of the night, which they swear they do not do. My guess is that the wooden stairs amplify the volume of their footsteps and that is what he hears and misinterprets. Because he has health and insomnia problems, this has seriously impacted his relationship with these people. It has now become an insurmountable issue and they have, understandably, given up trying to make nice.
Unfortunately, what happens is that the “offended” party becomes angry from the noise and then lashes out either verbally or otherwise. Things tend to degenerate from that point. My guess is that there are feuds in every village in France (and elsewhere) that have started and lasted for years because of the issue of noise.
So, can we do anything to resolve this? I don’t think so beyond a certain point. JM and I have changed our television viewing habits: moving the TV away from the wall, making sure the sound is not too high, not watching (most of the time) after a certain hour. Our neighbors also make an effort to not be overly loud.
But we all have to live, as does the village. If we wrap ourselves in cotton wool, we miss out on more than we gain and we will all be the poorer for it.
Ciao for now.