The new intake of students has arrived, and project activity in the studio reached fever pitch this morning. I moved sagely round  the groups with my clipboard, hoping to find out what they were up to in their task to create a stunning learning environment by Friday, on a budget of ten quid. With the background noise of 50 people enthusiastically chatting, laughing, hammering, sawing, and dragging furniture, it was slightly tricky. After turning the hearing aid to ‘noisy setting’ to avoid grinding my teeth to a powder, I noticed that the students were now saying “What? I didn’t hear that” to much of what I said. I felt perversely satisfied that, with this new ploy, we could all get totally frustrated together in discussions, instead of it being a one-sided affair.

The group charged with devising a much needed ‘sound control’ scheme for the studio announced that a straw poll had indicated that a. the entire group loved loud music as they worked, b. headphones were judged inferior to a set of speakers, and c. that they were providing free earplugs for those who had delicate sensibilities. I asked to be put first on the list for a pair. My heart sank as I imagined today’s background noise coupled with a rave on a daily basis, but I perked up a bit when they said that they were also working on a noise-making instrument to enable staff to make an alert sound when trying to get everyone’s attention.

I enthusiastically suggested the vuvuzela as a cheap backup alternative to the dinner gong they were hoping to stumble across in a charity shop, but unfortunately the vuvuzela was given an instant and emphatic thumbs down on the grounds of being too loud.

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