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The Case of the Noisy Dominoes

The Case of the Noisy Dominoes

Dominoes by Gerry Balding

We live in a noisy world, and the opportunity to find near silence from time to time is a welcome and refreshing one. A recent report from the World Health Organisation claims that Spain is the noisiest country in Europe. Apparently noise levels are around 70 decibels, whereas the World Health Organisation recommends a maximum of 55db during the day and 45 db at night.

These figures do not surprise me. As much as I like most Spanish people, and generalisations are dangerous, I have always maintained that Spanish babies are born with their volume controls glued to the maximum loud position, and it stays that way for life.

Travelling by bus, train, sitting in the theatre, dentist, hospital or doctor’s surgery surrounded by “Silence” notices, always makes me smile. No chance; whenever a group of Spanish people get together they do what they like doing best, and that is to talk, and the louder the better.

One of my favourite Spanish cities, Seville, has decided to take action against excessive noise, and decided to ban the playing of dominoes and dice games in outdoor cafes! Well, yes, I guess it is a step in the right direction, but I can think of any number of ‘calming’ measures without banning elderly men, in particular, enjoying playing dominoes in the sunshine.

How about excessive revving of motorcycle and car engines? Loud televisions in cafes, bars and restaurants, as well as all night singing and dancing in residential areas? I would also add fireworks, be it a Church organised show of devotion to a particular saint during religious processions, or the endless explosion of fireworks from Halloween to January 6th each year, which terrifies most creatures living outdoors, as well as many people.

Seville is also looking to ban the rolling of barrels down streets and, strangely enough, drinking and eating whilst standing outside cafe bars and terraces. This new law, like some of Spain’s other strange laws, such as noisy stag parties, and pianists playing loudly at home have led perpetrators to face prosecution. The new Seville law, like many others are often part of local democracy, voted upon by local neighbourhood associations and brought into law without too much consideration of the consequences.

Now to the real cause of all this noise. It is simple; it is mostly from noisy people. Interestingly, Spanish doctors report that around 7 per cent of all Spaniards have serious problems with their vocal cords, and among teachers the figure rises to nearly one in four, making it one of the main reasons why they take a day off work, as well as being one of the reasons why I usually avoid entering a Spanish classroom. World Voice Day, on 16 April, is when Spanish doctors spring into action to remind the public as to why they may suffer from throat problems, which also includes too much smoking. Sadly, those poor vocal chords stand no chance.

My message to Seville is simple; leave those poor domino and dice throwing players alone. They really are not doing any harm. How about encouraging everyone to speak a little quieter and to actually listen to what other people are saying, rather than speaking over them? This particular piece of advice would apply to many other nationalities too.


© Barrie Mahoney
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