Today is the Chinese Spring Festival and therefore a day when it is utterly useless for me to attempt to do anything that requires any degree of concentration for more than about a minute. Listening to music or watching TV are simply out of the question.
If there is one thing that can be said of China it is that it is a damned noisy country at the best of times. Even on normal days a walk down the street is an assault on the ears, as shops blast out music at way past the levels where distortion begins, differing styles and artists blending into a vast cacophany of ear-wrenching racket. To this is added the sound of the firecrackers that are let off for every birthday, chistening, wedding, shop-opening, shop-closing, whatever-other-thing in a machine gun rat-a-tat supplemented by the occasional much louder booming explosion from another popular type of firework.
And that's the norm.
It gets a thousand times noisier around Spring Festival, around now.
Yesterday was the Chinese New Year's Eve equivalent and, just as in England, they celebrate with fireworks. I don't care much for the noise from ours but the noise her has to be heard to be believed. It kicked off in earnest at about ten O'clock. I watched the colourful fireworks for a while from my fourth floor window but the noise, dear God, the noise! It sounded like a hundred wars had simultaneously broken out. The firecrackers were from every direction and non-stop. Explosions overhead every two or three seconds were sometimes accompanied by bright light shows but just as often merely by a single flash.
I had been watching TV but, in my double glazed apartment with all blinds and all doors shut and the TV volume up full it was still impossible to hear what SImon Templar had to say in the old episode of The Saint so I gave up.
Music was equally a failure - I have no headphones but I do have a walkman and that was as ineffective against the battery as stuffing my ears with jelly-beans would have been. (Though I confess that's a solution that I didn't actually try.)
Reading proved impossible and sleeping was clearly out of the question so I sat there sipping cups of tea until the noise had at least died down and then I went to bed.
And then it was almost six O'Clock.
What sounded like a bomb went off right outside my window. It was followed by more firecrackers and then we were off again. It's now about 9:30 and the noise is going on and on. There are occasional lulls when I am adding a sentence to this post but for the most part it's more-or-less constant.
And as I've typed that last sentence a curious quiet has fallen. I can hear some firecrackers but they are far away and faint. I can only hope that this means we will now have a rest from it all.
(To all of my Chinese friends, I wish you a happy, prosperous and above all quiet New Year. Put my crotchitiness nown to the lack of sleep and the prospect of whole day of being driven crazy by the noise.)
And now, it's started up again across the street.
Ah well, let's go find the paracetamol.
3 hours ago