My bike has a bell. Its law now that all new bikes should have them. I undertand the logic. Many of the cycle paths are shared with pedestrians and I have no issue with this. Except perhaps for the unaware stroller with a dog on a 30ft lead.
I ring my bell quite often, not insistently, I hope. I don't want intrude, intimidate or assert. Merely to inform.
Quite often, there is no response from the pedestrian I have slowed down to avoid. Perhaps they are deaf. This is possible and allowances should be made accordingly.
Usually though, the tell-tale white hearphones are the reason. The tweeting and chirping of the birds is replaced by whatever musical choice the wearer chooses that day.
Experience is a plastic thing, infinitely variable and subject to many influences: Mood, toothache, a full bladder, what happened last night. Or music.
Who hasnt turned up some loud, rousing music as they accelerate from the slip road on the motorway, feeling the compliment of the sounds to the thrill of the speed? I know I do, and on the autobahn where acceleration is more freely available and longer, it is quite a heady mix, I can tell you.
So, when we do things, go places, experience, we can modify that by the soundtrack we choose.
And it can completely alter how we perceive the moment. Imagine, if you will, wlaking through a crowded christmas shopping centre listening to Motorhead, "Ace of Spades". Now imagine the same with the funny little tune from the end of the Benny Hill show. I think the two experiences would be very different.
And so it is on the inside. I don't have an iPod. I do have a crappy mp3 player bought for 15 quid online and it is adequate for my purposes: I use it to uplift me when running. Let me tell you that the right music makes a big difference. Once when someone I knew died. I went for a run and on came "Don't fear the reaper" by B.O.C and I ran so fast and defiantly, telling, in my mind, death that it had better bloody look out because I was chasing it, not vice versa. I was very cross with it. And when I am running, it can become a dance, to the right tune. It can move me so much that brain chemistry hits the end stop and I have been seen running headlong, singing, wild eyed and enraptured. t these times, every nerve ending is on fire with joy and I am invincible. That is a high and all natural.
But a soundtrack is always there. I get up to do my bit at a presentation and in my head, so loud I fear it must surely be audible, are the opening violin bars of "El Tango de Roxanne" from Moulin Rouge. It lifts me, corrects my posture, makes me more noble and commanding in bearing.
Right now, I have the heavy beat of "The blood is love" by Queens of the Stone age. As I walk about th eoffoce conducting my business, its beat saturates my mind with its heaviness and drives me with purpose to get all those things done that need attention. I feel like (and have done before actually) stopping people, putting my head next to theirs and saying "Listen! Can you hear it too?" for surely, it is so note perfect and loud in here, it must be audible to people nearby.
And so, the psychotropic effect of music linger in my head and become somehow a tool for modifying mood.
You know, I really like my brain. It is such fun. It surprises me all the time. Have a play with yours. You will be amazed what you find to keep you amused.