Let’s face it; Spain is a noisy country.
I may live in serene solitude next to my lake, but once I clamber into my 4×4 (latest car karma update is that I now have a huge blue Landcruiser, purchased from a French friend and therefore christened Chabal after the famed and fearsome Neanderthal French rugby player) I am bombarded by noise. Not just the revving of engines, the honking of car horns, the curses of cyclists on the Istan road and the over enthusiastic and indiscriminate use of leaf blowers – yes it’s that time of year again – but also background music, or ‘muzak’.
I started noticing it when the powers that be that control the sound system in the car park next to the studio decided to stop playing their previous eclectic selection for something more, ahem, ‘easy listening’. I was more than a little miffed about this, as it often gave me a few ideas for songs to play on my show. Now, however, the sounds of what I presume to be a 21century reincarnation of the James Last Orchestra playing show tunes drift across the car park on an endless, infernal loop. Presumably the management thinks that an instrumental version of Fly me to the Moon’or some such adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the retail experience.
Not that you are safe when you actually get into your intended store. Most Spanish supermarkets now pipe ‘muzak’ at you while you shop, and one of the best-known British ones has what seems to be a dedicated DJ playing chart hits and informing you of special offers in the frozen food section. I only hope that the inane chatter and sound is pre-recorded. Otherwise it proves that there is a special level of Hell reserved for DJs condemned to broadcast live from a back storeroom.
As we are now well and truly in the Festive season, we are, of course, subjected to Christmas Carols. Once again Spanish supermarkets and shopping centres are huge fans of what sound like a particularly raucous and over refreshed bunch belting out songs about Navidad.
Count yourself lucky though. When I worked in a Cockney Theme Restaurant in London’s West End in the 80s, we started the Christmas Lunch menu and accompanying ‘muzak’ on a continuous loop from the end of October. Even now I can’t hear anything seasonal by Wizard or Slade without breaking into a cold sweat.
Deck the halls with boughs of holly and pass me the bloody festive ear defenders pleas!