Canned music in the lavatory

WHY did they ever call the damned stuff ‘canned music’?

Cans sit on a shelf and you take one out as required, choosing, as it were, baked beans or spaghetti hoops.

‘Piped music’ is better. It implies something that pours relentlessly out of a tube upon which someone forgot to attach a tap.

But how about ‘intravenously drip-fed excessively-decibelled, inescapable, nerve-jangling, mind-numbing music’?

That about sums it up.

You could drop the word ‘music’.

I had reached the conclusion that the only place you can escape the tin-drumming horror of radio station jingles was in the lavatory, but no – I went into a public lavatory in one of our suburban shopping centres last week and they were even drip-feeding me the stuff in there.

Did I say drip-feed? This stuff comes in torrents. There is no escape. In restaurants, shops, hotels, walking the footpath within coo-eee of a shopping centre, even in funeral parlours (unless you’re the dead person, of course).

And just because funeral parlours don’t use radio music that doesn’t mean it’s less chillingly awful.

If it’s not the radio it’s something on a tape or a CD that’s been especially compiled to make diners more comfortable, shoppers more eager, dentists’ patients more relaxed and people going to the lavatory…?

The mind boggles.

Where do they get it? Is there a laboratory somewhere where they strap victims into chairs and play them this rubbish until they die?

And how come there is no off button? I’ve been into restaurants and pleaded with them to switch the bloody stuff off, but the best they can achieve is down.

Usually you’re lucky to get away with an indignant sniff and coffee in the saucer.

I’ve even walked into restaurants — the sole customer — and the bastards have rushed to turn the sound up! Is my reputation travelling? Do they see me coming and grin in malicious delight as they reach for the volume switch?

And how, in the wildest ravings of their imagination, do they conclude that an hour of heavy metal music, or the gibberings of some half-witted DJ interspersed with truly dreadful advertisements is an aid to digestion?

One day I’m going to find a place where music is forbidden and I can eat a meal to the gentle background of murmured conversations and the muted tones of knives and forks being laid against the edges of plates.

It’s not that I don’t like music. I love music. I even love heavy metal music. Well, some of it. But music is very personal. Indeed, if it truly came in cans, that would be ideal. You could take out Pink Floyd of Mozart or Perry Como, taste a forkful or two, and put the rest back for another day. (Personally I’d chuck Perry Como in the garbage, but I’m sure you catch my drift).

Instead we are becoming a species that can’t live with the sound of its own thoughts. Hand up if yours is a house where the first person awake, or the first person through the door, reaches for the radio or TV switch?

But maybe that’s not an indictment of the noise. Maybe that’s an indictment of the sound of our own thoughts.