Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The trouble with my iPod
Twice a week, usually, I get the bus into work instead of driving. And then I walk home; my gesture towards the environment and fitness. It’s a distance of about three miles and I vary my route so that I don’t get particularly bored (lots of people’s front windows to look into). However, sometimes I remember to bring along further entertainment in the form of my iPod. My taste in music is almost exclusively classical and I often listen to the piece my choir is currently learning, to fix it into my head. I try not to sing as I walk (mad old lady in trainers and with rucksack, carolling as she marches).
Our students are keen iPod wearers. Whenever I see a lone student in the lifts or making for the bus stop, he/she is invariably plugged in. The music isn’t precisely audible but there’s what Garrison Keillor describes as “the sound of distant chainsaws” emitting from their headphones. Luckily I won’t be around when this generation suffers from the deafness that I’m sure they’re inflicting on themselves - lots of old people going “You’re mumbling!” and fiddling with their hearing aids. (Then they’ll be sorry.)
And possibly I will too, especially as a result of listening to our choir’s current piece, “Carmina Burana”. I’m not a natural with technology, and find that walking, plugging in earphones (L in the left ear, R in the right) and getting the device to work - simultaneously - is a bit too much multi-tasking for me. But I’m always in a tearing hurry to get home – having stayed too long at work – so I set out briskly, fiddling with the controls as I forge through groups of ambling young people.
I don’t know if you know “Carmina Burana” but it starts VERY LOUDLY, with the words “OHHHH FORTUNAAAAAAAA!!!”. And no matter how much I think I’ve turned the volume down before it begins – it’s never down enough. I shoot into the air like a startled cat – AARRGGHH - and my ears fly off my head, landing in little pink shattered pieces on the grass. Or so it feels.
By the time I’ve adjusted the controls and my heart’s returned to a normal rate, I’ve reached the road. Now the traffic is roaring and the choir has moved on to a quiet bit, currently inaudible to me. I have my iPod on a string round my neck (which is probably not a cool look) so that I don’t drop it, so I stuff it inside my jacket to stop it swinging around as I walk. But this means that whenever I want to adjust the volume – which is all the time – I have to fish in an unladylike fashion down my front. The timing of this particular piece ensures that by the time the singing is forte again, I’ve reached the next quiet bit of my walk and have to readjust it once more. And so it continues.
Maybe this is the reason why today’s popular music – I use this vague term because I don’t know the differences between garage and rock and dance and so on – is all loud. Yes, it’s deafening. But at least it’s consistently deafening and you don’t have to feel in your clothing to adjust it.