It’s a lovely, sunny day today. I don’t usually enjoy the sunshine. I’m the sort of person who is always hot, even in the winter. My fiancee also has a kind of sun allergy which means we don’t spend much time in the sun together at all. However, today I found my options were as follows: Sit indoors, play GTA Online and veg out (after chores) or take my book out into the garden for a read. “Why not?” I thought, “might as well!” and so out I went.
As soon as I opened the back door I was bombarded with Radio 1 and the smell of over-fuelled BBQ smoke. I know, I’m already sounding grumpy. I know! However, I’m not actually grumpy. I wish my neighbours well – we don’t get this weather often so good luck to them! However, I wanted to read my book! I’m reading Green Mars, part two in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy which charts the exploration, colonisation, terraforming of Mars and the social and political struggles of The First Hundred colonists and those of many generations of their offspring. The chapter I’m reading at the moment is about a guy, sent by a massive global company on a research mission, struggling to adapt to the vastness, silence and isolation of his new home.
He’s all melancholy and freaking out slightly when, just as I was getting all paranoid and lonely along with him, Cash Cash feat. Bebe Rexha trundles into my bubble and reminds me that I’m not on Mars with Art, I’m in the garden with a BBQ taking place next door. It dragged me right out of the book and made me not want to read anymore. I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that book should be read in bed, in the bath, on the toilet and alone on a beach/in a field and nowhere else! People, noises and music just get in the way.
So, childishly, I thought “right! retaliation time!” I booted up BBC Radio iPlayer on my iPad and cranked the volume up. As always it was tuned to Radio 4. I let next door confusedly mumble their way through a Weekend Women’s Hour feature on Marriage Certificates and then another on – coincidentally – female involvement in NASA’s current Mars kick. “Take that!” I thought, “hahaha!”
I don’t think they heard anything over the whining, apt pleading of Gary Barlow’s Let Me Go, something he’s somehow managed to convince the tax man to do for years. But, on my side of the fence, the point had been made, my loud, intelligent talk radio had fought back against their prattling electronic whatever-it-was (why are 80% of the UK Top 40 “featuring” someone? What happened to just letting someone do a song on their own?!) and, whether they noticed or not, I’d had my childish revenge.
Yet now I’m indoors again, typing this up, and they’re still out there oblivious to my (and Art’s) plight. I’m not reading, not playing GTA, STILL listening to Women’s Hour and can’t help but feel I’ve lost. Maybe I’m getting old. Maybe I should be out there with a can of cider and a pair of funny-shaped sun glasses with that oil-on-water effect over the lenses rather than out there with a Welsh Wool blanket and a 1040 page sci-spec novel. Maybe my neighbour is right! Maybe… Oh, hang about! They’re interviewing Patricia Highsmith’s ex-publisher! Women’s Hour, not my neighbour. I’ve got to hear this.