It was a perfumer who first made me aware of that overwhelming loudness of the capitol. I suppose being so attuned to one sense- and loving it so- perhaps developes your other senses, or makes you appreciate them more. In any case really ever since then I do find myself noticing that wall of sound more and more, I don't necessarily say I don't like it, but I do say it is an overwhelming presence sometimes.
There are nights, when the windows must be open and the bus hurtles round the corner at 4am for who knows what reason, there are those times when the noise is too much. When I want to get up and ask everyone carrying on to just dissist so I can please sleep and dream. There are also those days on Oxford street where I'm turning my earphones up and up until they are at warning levels and I still cannot hear when I want to tell the city to hush because I am very interested in what makes the perfect fish soup on Woman's Hour and would like to hear about it while I walk to M&S for cheese- the walking to get cheese and the Woman's Hour shouldn't be denied me together purely because I choose to walk in W1.
Then there are the other days when the hum is like a lullaby, comforting my hectic thoughts and making sense of them. The times when I stay in the country and everyone says how well I must have slept without the noise from London and I want to say no actually it was disturbingly quiet, I've been awake since 5am and I'm much rather hear the bus than your snoring down the hall (though of course I say all the right things about terribly noisy grey London because it is what you do when you go to the country- NB. I'm from the country ish so I can say so justifiably I think).
When it is loud though (the noise), like a wall, like heat, when you can't quell it or turn it off, it can make you feel panicky, overcome and out of control- I wonder if that's how animals feel all the time. Then I worry that I'm becoming one of those people who needs to be taken to the country for their health and will have to start catching trains back to town like Virginia Woolf because I want to be in the city and I want to manage- then I think it's perhaps best to stop worrying and go to sleep (with the windows closed).