Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross,
To see a fine lady upon a white horse.
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
And she shall have music wherever she goes.
I can relate to the lady in the nursery rhyme, even though I’ve no clinking, tinkling silver objects attached to my brogues.
And the closest I ever got to owning a horse was a Christmas present from my Uncle Doris (don’t ask!) which I realised he’d mislabelled when I unwrapped it to find it was a “My Little Pony” annual (the previous year’s, bought in a remainders bookshop) meant for my cousin Philomena.
Being 15 at the time, I was so disappointed. I was expecting my usual “Care Bears” annual. I relate to the lady on the white horse because I hear music everywhere I go.
And I don’t want to!
Background music/elevator music/lift music – like the Devil it has many names – started when the Muzak Corporation decided waiting rooms, hotel lobbies and shops etc were too peaceful!
So, they infested public spaces with bland tunes played in a soporific style by anonymous musicians. Since then, ‘mood music’ has spread like the common cold and now supermarkets have their own radio stations.
When I’m checking the ‘best-before date’ on a sliced loaf, I don’t want to hear Adele screeching one of her life-sapping dirges.
Surprisingly, some people are able to ignore background music. I was once in a supermarket that was playing pop music so loud I only bought a few items because I had to escape the cacophony.
When I mentioned the annoying music to the check-out girl, she listened for a moment and said “Oh, I just blank it out!”
If background music is designed to encourage shop customers to stay longer and buy more, what genius decided banks should shatter their customer’s eardrums with foreground music?
I walked into a bank recently and was astonished to hear rap music blasting out around me. It sounded ridiculously incongruous in a business environment.
When I asked a staff member why they were playing completely unsuitable, loud music, she said: “Sorry, I can’t hear you because of the completely unsuitable, loud music!”
No. She admitted that several customers had complained. But added: “We have to follow Head Office instructions!”
I immediately left the building, wondering if Head Office is located somewhere near the Ninth Circle Of Hell.