Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bring the noise - letter to the paper

There was a letter in the Herald recently – complaining about the Counting House’s three-day July music festival. It wanted, seemingly, an end to ‘noise’. It wanted the government to crack down. It wanted peace. It wanted quite. In short it wanted, like a headteacher at exam time… SILENCE! This is not a letter about this particular event – smashing though it was for so many reasons – it’s about something else.
Society is diseased not by noise, but by busybodies thinking they have the right to stop it. They don’t.
They have rights, like we all do, to a reasonable amount of night-time peace and quiet. They have robust rights.
If only they knew how tough this country and this town’s licensing regulations are.
Noise of some sort; expression; fun, is very nearly mummified in red tape.
I can promise you that.
The very letter of the law, and perhaps some which aren’t actually there, are applied in Eastbourne to those pushing for bespoke or new events.
Put very simply and not too loudly, to legitimately perform, to stage, to celebrate and to have fun with other people – even just for two and a half days – requires religious dedication and still often fails.
Police, Fire, Health and Safety, Licensing… the cotton wool of our culture can be turned to glue at the whim of some senior (or well connected) soul should they see fit, quicker than the flick of an amp switch.

No. You, my friend, are protected.
What is far less protected is the right of expression, the right of dance, the right of song and the right of mutual enjoyment of these things…
It’s hindered every inch of the way, statutorily vilified and victimised – lumped clumsily into the same convenient group as antisocial behaviour and probably graffiti – although not, interestingly, as church bells, fireworks and fighter-jet engines.
However, to many, joining friends to watch an artist perform their noise is life affirming – and is a right which we must fight to protect if our culture is not to become diluted and unattached from its people.
Life is already restricted. Money is stupidly tight.
What can we do? There is only so much time for fornication. Sometimes you need to forget, to laugh and to clap your hands together involuntarily – sometimes you need to see someone perform, or do it yourself, to remind you of this unique human quality. Sometimes a little noise is a very good thing

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