Monday, January 9, 2012

Restaurants without music, and Other Hen's Teeth

I hate hearing recorded music in Restaurants, Pubs or other eateries.

No, really, I hate it.

It makes me feel very uncomfortable and it seems to shut down my mental ability to initiate and sustain a conversation. My family think I'm weird, which is a sure sign that I'm in a tiny minority. That's OK, but I would like to be able to find that tiny minority of Restaurants that cater for my preferences and play no music. Yes, no music at all. Zero. What blessed relief!

I have found one - the sublime refreshment rooms at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The decor and ambience would render it a pleasure to drink molten lead but, thankfully, the victuals on offer are infinitely more palatable.

I thought I found another - the New Queen pub near Ringwood, Dorset but when, after a satisfying pie and beer, I congratulated the management on the brave stance it had taken against the rising tide of sound pollution, I was informed that the CD player was broken. It was an unintended coincidence for which I was most heartily grateful, but the prospect of the inevitable repair or replacement to the blasted machine would effectively deter me from ever returning.

This evening, my family and I sat down to an evening meal in Istanbul, which I anticipated with relish. I had hoped to savor the local cuisine in a genuinely indigenous setting, but then the patron decided to impose some globalized, generic Kenny Gee jazz on us by turning on the CD player after we had taken our seats. This produced in me a very gloomy mood, that prompted much chiding from my intimates. As the food had already been ordered, I was instructed not to spoil the evening by inviting a confrontation with the waiters, management, other diners present and, as far as I know, the entire population of Europe and Asia combined.

I would have loved to have listened to the wood fire crackling in the grate and the quiet murmur of the other patrons' conversations. But no, I had to endure some pre-recorded saxophony that I could easily have experienced in a car-park lift in Luton. I began to look forward to the trams rumbling outside the window for some relief, but half a bottle of red provided at least some degree of anaesthetic.

I have no idea why music is considered compulsory. Who wrote the rule? I know most peoples' experiences vary between indifference and enjoyment, but I'm not wired that way. I don't hate music either (I'm a competent hobby musician). I would just like to be asked.

And when my family tells me that I'm not in charge, I try (and usually fail) to tell them in my most non-confrontational voice that, actually, as the one paying the bill, I am.

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