What do you hear?

While JHJ is pondering carbon footprints and the elasticity of time-space in a comfortable flat in Helsinki, our foreign correspondent, currently in far away South London, reports that the major impact of Iceland’s volcano on life for him (apart from the temporary absence of a [house]mate) is the SILENCE overhead. No planes.

And not in Helsinki either. Helsingin Sanomat asks “When will we fly again?” on this ad in the window of our local R-Kioski. Tampere and Turku yes, where airports are due to open for six hours today, but not here. I can, on the other hand, hear the soothing sounds of a tow-truck, removing a car that was left parked, despite warnings, on a stretch of street about to be washed. (I refer you to my post of 14.4.2010).

And the sounds of Helsinki?

Alas, the not-so-sweet sound of a seagull struck me yesterday. Yes, that irritating, ice-cream-snatching, no doubt bacteria-infested, ugly and menacing product of nature mixed with culture (helping themselves to left-overs in outdoor cafes and restaurants over the years has left its mark) is back. Here, for once, I find myself in some sympathy with the city’s mayor, Jussi Pajunen, who has urged Helsinki residents to wage a personal war against these birds, by destroying their nests. Irresponsible, say BirdLife Finland via YLE.

Meanwhile, hearing loss may be offering a new retail opportunity in an empty shop near you. Help is at hand, at a price presumably, for those who can’t hear the crunching of snow underfoot, the crisp sound of a knife peeling an apple, the rustle of leaves on trees (not yet an issue in Helsinki, I must add) or the rain falling.

With which observation, I can seguey to the topic of people istening to headphones in the company of other people, something which has become popular among the youth of this fine country and left us older people to wonder what’s going on – what happened to sociability not to say courtesy? Presumably as well, the biological hearing apparatus that has served homo sapiens sapiens so well so long, is under some kind of assault from the variety of technological buzzes and hums. (I mean, in a silent environment with healthy hearing, presumably the seagull’s approach as it swoops to get your ice-cream, would be given away by some noise. Then again, maybe not – don’t they just dive bomb, the b*****s).

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