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Saturday, 21 July 2012


There's nowt so queer as folk, a truth from which all of us, in relation to some aspect of our lives, can take comfort. Some can also take comfort from a whole academic field of Queer Theory - but despite having spent a year following the courses of someone who inspired it (Michel Foucault), I don't know enough to make it the topic for my letter Q.

In my work I drive long distances across Europe, sometimes several hundred miles in a day. Nowadays, I never listen to the car radio or put in a CD. I am happy to drive, to day dream and to think.

At home, I have a home cinema system but it is not tuned for TV reception and I don't have a TV licence (I have a letter from the authorities permitting me this queerness). The last time I saw a TV programme was in 2010 - in someone else's house, I watched one of the General Election debates between the UKs party leaders.

I have a cheap sound system and occasionally play CDs but I never listen to the radio - I don't even know if the system is tuned to any particular stations; I haven't investigated.

My landline telephone is switched to silent and an answerphone picks up any messages (most of them spam). During the day, my mobile phone is not switched to silent and I answer calls from numbers it recognises. But I usually send texts or emails to people rather than call them. My business is now largely carried on through emails.

I quite like the background noise of cars passing, people going about their business, roars going up from a pub when someone scores a goal. But I don't add very much to the noise. I never use my car horn, though that is not unusual in England.

I live a very quiet life, not metaphorically but literally, and so quiet that I reckon it a bit queer. And I don't fully understand it.

Not watching TV - even selectively, as of course everyone does - I officially regard as part of what Auguste Comte called "Mental Hygiene" which for him involved not reading books (or not too many of them). It keeps my head clear and, since I use the time saved to read books and newspapers, hopefully better informed about the world than I would be from watching TV.

As for not listening to the radio, that I cannot explain other than by saying that sooner or (rarely) later someone talking too much, too fast or some advertisement full of false enthusiasm will irritate me and sometimes beyond reason.

Text messages and emails are wonderful inventions. I was never much good on the 'phone (I didn't grow up with it)and now I find it quite intrusive. It always shocks me when I see people together in restaurants, even romantic couples, who will break off a conversation to answer their phone.

So you see that in my taste for Quiet, I'm a bit queer. In every other respect, of course, I'm as normal as the chap next door.

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