Alan Dee: Here’s to the muffled sound of summer


Bright sunshine. Blue skies. Birds chirp in the bushes, and the prospect of a lazy Sunday stretches delightfully out ahead. Until...

Sometimes as I sit in the little patch of green I call my garden, I can look up and see jets heading off to foreign climes.

I live about 10 miles from the Luton runway and I can entirely appreciate that those who live much closer to Lorraine Chase’s favourite transport hub may find the sound of aircraft noise a bit of a bind.

But there are near neighbours of mine who would have you believe that the faraway throb of a jet engine is a harbinger of the breakdown of civilisation as we know it.

Aircraft noise fills them with anguish, and they are quite clear they want no more of it in just as they are quite clear that they want a convenient departure point for their European city breaks and summer sojourns in Chiantishire.

But these are the same people who, whenever Sunday and sun finally combine, plug in every loathsome appliance in their gardening armoury, switch on and get stuck in.

Just sit back and tot them up – within five doors of your home, how many of the following are regularly pressed into service just when everyone else wants a bit of peace and quiet?

There’s the mower, of course, whether it’s a hover model, a cylinder sort or one of those petrol-driven behemoths you sit on. Just about everybody with a patch of grass has one type or another, which only gives rise to the depressing prospect that they could all be roaring away at once.

But then there’s the strimmer, the hedge trimmer, the pressure washer that blasts clean the patio, even the lawn sprinkler if we’re in one of those happy periods unaffected by a hosepipe ban and – if you’re especially unlucky – a bark chipper. Now that really does make a racket.

A chap three doors up from me is an inveterate chipper, and one day last year I was so fed up with the din that I determined to give him a peace of my mind. I gave it up as a bad job when I arrived as his gate to see him cheerfully chipping away, his ears swathed in protective muffs. In the circumstances I could tell there was no point in pursuing the matter.

I’m told that in more civilised countries on the continent it’s an offence to cut your grass or cause other gardening grief to others during the hours that your neighbours might reasonably be expected to want to enjoy their own gardens in blessed silence. It’s certainly food for thought.

But as things stand I think my only option is to turn the tables on the selfish so and so up the road, and get some ear muffs.

I won’t be able to hear the birds, but it’s a price I am prepared to pay.