The Coop supermarket chain has won the wooden spoon of being voted the worst offender for piped music. Although the chain is not everyone’s choice of shop, it is often the only place that the most vulnerable in society – those who cannot drive for whatever reason, for example – find they have to do their shopping. It is also a chain that loudly proclaims its ethical ideals. So whether or not you shop there regularly, write in protest to its CEO Steve Murrells firstname.lastname@example.org
The Nationwide Building Society, which until recently prided itself on not having piped music, is now introducing it, doubtless misled by the smooth mendacious propaganda of the piped music industry. Write to express amazement and disgust to Sarah Rogers, Programme Manager Strategy & Planning, Branch & Workplace Transformation [sic] Sarah.Rogers@nationwide.co.uk
The Quiet Corners website has been totally reformulated by Chris Chinnery, our indefatigably ingenious honorary webmaster. You can now type in your location and search for restaurants, pubs, shops etc within a 10, 25 or 50 mile radius. Each place listed comes up with a useful map. (Soon there should be an app to download to your smart phone but already you can google the site easily enough on anything from a smart phone to a desk top.) The address http://quietcorners.org.uk remains the same.
Some final work still needs to be done before the site is fully operational (we hope to link it with other sites such as Quiet Scotland and Comer sin Ruido, for example) but it is now far more user-friendly and useful to anyone searching for a muzak-free premise.
In Australia Warren Fahey, who is well-known in the musical world, has set up a splendid new website pipedown.net for Pipedown Australia. Anyone living in or ever visiting Australia who detests piped music should contact him through it or directly at email@example.com
In the USA the Ann Arbor, Michigan group, with its fine new website, has been getting noticed in the local and national media. See http://quietannarbor.org
Meanwhile in London Carol Caplan has held the first meeting of Pipedown London. She is planning to leaflet concert-goers at the Proms Season at the Albert Hall this summer, realising that lovers of real music freely chosen are among those most likely to hate the unwanted piped sort. Do support her by offering to help leaflet on some evenings – this should only take at most 30 minutes. Or make other suggestions. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
And in Lincolnshire and adjacent areas (Humberside, Nottinghamshire) Richard Ellis is starting a group to combat piped music locally . Contact him at email@example.com
And the address for Pipedown HQ remains firstname.lastname@example.org
Following our hard gained success with Marks and Spencer in 2016, we need to decide which national chain to target next. The chain must be national NB.
The Co-op, HSBC, Superdrug, Costa and Pret à Manger have all been suggested.
A recent survey of high streets in four British cities suggests that most places are still filled with piped music. The stress this can cause those working there all day is starting to attract notice.
Let Pipedown know your own choice during the next few weeks. (Anyone is welcome to make suggestions but those from members will naturally carry more weight.) The winner of this rogues’ gallery will be announced in March.
Recent reports indicate that several train companies are considering dropping Quiet Carriages on trains, on the grounds that such carriages are difficult and expensive to police and not really very popular. Write in to the heads of the relevant rail companies around the UK and tell them just how wrong they are.
And also write to the newspapers and even to your MP. This pusillanimity should be stopped!
Andy Mellors is the top personage at South West Railways, and his email address is email@example.com
Other CEOs’ e-addresses can be found at https://www.ceoemail.com/index-search.php
‘The omnipresent curse of annoying muzak’ is the fourth most commonly hated aspect of hotels today, reports The Good Hotel Guide in its just published 2018 edition. (Poor Wifi reception, dim lighting in bedrooms and ‘captive’ coat hangers were the first three most hated things in modern hotels.) The Good Hotel Guide, one of the few such guides to remain wholly independent and impartial, gives full details about the piped music – or lack of – in each hotel reviewed.
All ASDA supermarkets turned off their muzac and reduced other acoustic and visual disturbances to a minimum for an hour last Tuesday to allow people with autism to shop in peace. This is a real advance: a major chain at last recognising the impact excessive noise can have on its customers. ASDA needs to expand the scheme to having well-advertised quiet hours every day of the year, however. Autism sufferers are of course especially vulnerable but they are not the only shoppers harmed by piped music. The 15% of the population with hearing problems are also badly affected, as are people with many other problems, from hyperacusis and tinnitus to ME. It is high time supermarkets woke up to this problem.
Email ASDA’s CEO Sean Clarke to press him to extend the scheme and make it a permanent feature of the chain, not a one-off. firstname.lastname@example.org
Meanwhile, keep protesting to the Co-op which is finally showing signs of listening to its customers. Email the Co-op’s CEO Steve Murrells, perhaps also pointing out how well Aldi and Lidl are doing without any music. email@example.com
A new survey from New York reveals the effects on human health of noise of all sorts. Noise is now second only to air pollution in its adverse effects on human health. Hypertension and cancer are two of the potentially fatal illnesses that excessive, non-stop music – which triggers a fight-or-flight response – can cause. And, as the report in Harpers Bazaar magazine points out, you can no longer hope to find a refuge in bars, hotels, restaurants or even bookshops, as almost all are filled with piped music!
‘Loud noise correlated with high-stress events that could damage tissue: thunder, animal roars, screams, or war cries,’ says Bart Kosko, Ph.D., a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Southern California and the author of Noise. So, in response to rare but loud threats, we evolved to spurt out adrenalin, cortisol, and other stress hormones—chemicals that jacked up our bodies so we could fight or flee. A constant gush of stress hormones actually restructures the brain, contributing to tumor development, heart disease, respiratory disorders, and more. And of course, our hormonal endocrine systems haven’t had time to learn that car stereos aren’t out to get us. ‘Today we regularly get similar stress-hormone surges from car alarms, ringing phones, police sirens, leaf blowers, jackhammers, and amplified voices.’
The problem is of course global and not confined to the USA.