THERE was a silent disco taking place on my bus this morning. At least three youths sporting headphones the size of dinnerplates were ostentatiously bopping along to a supposedly unheard soundtrack while remaining resolutely disinterested in the people around them. Not an easy look to pull off.
Their lowered eyelids conveniently meant I could observe them without getting a post-breakfast smack in the teeth or a saliva-shower as they spat out “What do you think yer looking at?”
A Kindle does not make as good a hide as a traditional book, I have discovered, even if you hold it so close in front of your face that the font is too blurred to read.
Given that most people carry reading material on public transport for the specific purpose of appearing to ignore their fellow passengers while discreetly noting their every move (what – you’ve never seen the man on the no.78 with the eyeholes cut out of his newspaper?), perhaps there should be a disclaimer on the box.
Of course when I say there was a silent disco on my bus this morning, there was only one place the music was silent and that was in the imaginations of those listening to it.
That is unless they were very much aware of the static blast coming from their headphones, sending the cerebral cortexes of those around them into spasm, and simply didn’t care.
Or maybe they thought they were performing a public service – thoughtfully sharing their playlists so we didn’t have to suffer silence. A pat on the back to you kind sir.
The irony of having to put up with the inconsiderate commuter soundtrack on this particular bus journey was that I was reading a report on the positive effects of music on our mental state.
Uplifting music can boost mental alertness and concentration, according to a new study carried out by the University of Northumbria.
Researchers invited 14 young volunteers to listen to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons while performing a challenging mental task and at the same time measured the electrical activity of their brains.
Results showed that participants carried out the task faster and more accurately while listening to the uplifting strains of the Spring concerto, but slowed down during the more sombre Autumn passage.
Incidentally, both pieces were written in major keys so there was no suggestion that major or minor key type makes a difference to the impact of music on mental performance.
Is this why Spring is so often used as telephone hold music – because it puts across such a positive vibe that we soon forget our fury behind whatever it is we are calling to complain about and stop worrying over the extortionate per minute cost of our 25-minute wait?
I’m surprised nobody has thought of pumping it into offices via the tannoy system to increase productivity or to play it in doctors waiting rooms, to customer returns queues, at 2am Leveson negotiation meetings and anywhere else people are likely to get aggravated.
And on buses.
Yes, it would drive us all mad after a while but surely it would still be less infuriating than the not-so silent disco.