Returning to the question of music

And another almost gratuitous photo of a tram!Uusi YlioppilastaloRemember our complaint from a few days ago about the irritant of tinny music on buses? Well, dear reader(s) brace yourself for bad news. Sitting towards the front of a tram that familiar nagging doubt overtook me so that I was soon overwhelmed by thoughts about how and whether and at what point and how I should go and nip this new urban irritant in its bud before it all got catastrophically out of hand and I’d have to move to …

I craned my neck, in the vain hope that a long, hard stare (what my mother calls the ‘evil eye’) would do the trick. Perhaps this non-aggressive intervention would shame them into stopping (or passive-aggressive, if you like).

Imagine my surprise as my stare was replied to with a cheerful wave from a ‘pultsari’ playing, not a new-fangled Nokia but a small transistor radio with a long aerial sticking up into the aisle. A pultsari is one of those classes of Helsinki or Finnish creatures for which it isn’t easy to find an English translation, although ‘wino’ might cover it. Finnish, unsurprisingly, has a wealth of words to cover the same thing.

Now ‘pultsaris’ have a long and distinguished career as the town criers of Helsinki’s public transport, and you have to learn to deal with them as good-humouredly as you can. In any case, the idea of intervening went right out of my head. It might start a tram-wide good-natured banter accompanied by awkward shifting of bodies to stare out of the window at any point of reference to keep out of the conversation. Or it could result in the chap, or worse, the chap and his wino friends, booming out their alcohol-soaked life-long wisdom in variously attacking ways.

And anyway, the guy’s wave had been cheerful. Correction: he knew he’d managed to irritate at least one fellow-passenger.

I shall resist, dear reader, the London-response, however. (And especially since this was not a mobile phone and I live in hope that things won’t get that much worse). In London I’ve seen basic ear-plugs and myself have resorted to creating an acoustic universe all of my own between my ears, as do about half the users of London’s public transport these days. And if your ear-phones are good enough other people’s choice sounds won’t interfere with yours.

And why, once again, has this anything to do with planning or building? Just imagine what would happen if all those who could afford to were to retreat into the comfort of their private cars just to avoid other people’s muzak?

Cars on Mannerheimintie

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