Rocked to Death on the NHS

Compulsory pop to be played on all hospital wards ?

Many people are understandably afraid to go into hospital during the pandemic, but I can tell you that there’s a much more terrible disease around than Covid-19. And it’s enough to make you vow to stay out of hospital at all costs. I mean that audible filth called pop music 

“A significant body of medical and scientific opinion has concluded that music aids recovery.” I’m sure it does. But these experts are not talking about music, but “hit songs and pop music in general.” The experts persist: “It’s just daft,” said Dr Julia Jones. “There is so much evidence to show the beneficial effects of music on the brain and we’re denying that to health professionals. It just doesn’t make sense.”

I do wish they wouldn’t use the word music when they mean “music.” They mean a loud, shapeless, cacophonous, empty-headed, repetitive assault on the senses and the soul. And the problem is that it’s almost ubiquitous. Almost, but not quite. The one place – apart from the funeral parlour – where you could avoid it was the hospital. Of course, you had to get ill first, but it was a price worth paying. Now even this last repository of peace and quiet is to be removed.

“Beneficial effects on the brain”? What, when I can’t hear myself think!

If I walk along the promenade in Eastbourne there are oiks innumerable with their noise machines. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the public lavatories, the din is there also. Every programme on television from the local news bulletins to Songs of Praise is infected by it. I turned on a documentary about a walk through the Yorkshire Dales. I couldn’t hear the waterfalls at Aysgarth or the bluebirds over Malham Cove for the amplified racket. The Antarctic or the Kalahari, it’s all the same brain-dead monotony

There was once a programme about the value of silence, with a Trappist monastery as the setting. No – this is not a joke: the programme played “music” continuously. It goes without saying that Uniworsity Challenge is full of it as Paxo announces, “Here’s your music question…” But it isn’t. It’s only the usual effluent. But the university ought to be the antidote to this rubbish.

It’s in the supermarkets, the shopping centres and, when we get back to what’s laughingly called “normality,” it will return to the pubs and restaurants. It has already got quite near the hospitals by  invading the GPs’ surgeries. They explain that its purpose is to blank out doctor-patient consultations. But I would rather, any day, overhear the doctor tell someone, “I’m sorry but that toe will have to come off” than be made to listen to the usual poisonous racket

The experts claim that people love this “music.” But they are wrong. You can’t love it any more than you can love opium or tranquillisers. You can, of course, be addicted to these things, but that’s a different thing altogether. As claim to love this stuff, you might as well claim to love arsenic.

And the worst of the damned cheek is that the experts are asking – no, demanding, for nobody asks for anything these days – that the licenses required in order to have “music” played in the wards should be paid for out of general taxation

It imposes itself – almost – everywhere. Please Mr Oik, Ms Philistine, leave us in peace when we’re ill.

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30 Comments on Rocked to Death on the NHS

  1. It’s the same thing, walking along the promenade at Liverpool. Noise machines blasting out an ugly mixture of bossa nova and gangster rap. Ugh.

  2. “Pop music” is music performed by people who haven’t learned how to sing or play their instruments, danced to by people who haven’t learned how to dance. Such oxymoronic oddities as “modern jazz” and “contemporary folk” differ from “pop” only insofar as one would have to be insane to try to dance to them.

    Until at least the 1940s, dance music (including jazz) was at least competently performed, and one had to study the steps of the dances in order to use them as tools of seduction. But nous avons changé tout çela! Absence of effort and knowledge, by musical manufacturers and musical consumers alike, is obligatory.

    As the dying Prince Hamlet might have said, “The rest is… THUMP thump THUMP thump THUMP thump THUMP.”

  3. 15y ago, when visiting my Dad in the care home my step-mother’s family had dumped him in, some woman, apparently paid to entertain them, put a Rolling Stones CD on for them!

    Vera Lynn or Glen Miller would have been more appropriate!

  4. After being fitted with a post heart attack stent in Sheffield I was in the recovery room for a couple of hours and the TV was on playing some absolute rubbish.
    When I asked the nurse if she would be able to switch to channel 703 for BBC R3, she did so and we all listened to that for the afternoon with several saying what a lovely change it made!

    • Robert Spowart: How long ago was that?

      Today’s BBC Radio 3 schedule includes not only Mendelssohn’s precocious Octet, in a performance which I’m sure was excellent, but also 45 minutes of “Harlem on Fire”, in which a person implausibly named Afua Hirsch celebrates “an explosive attempt to burn down the traditional western canon and replace it with brutally honest depictions of African American life.” If neither of those floats your musical boat, you can also hear two and a half hours of Stephen Sondheim, who was rightly confined to BBC Radio 2 a mere two or three decades ago.

      Switching to BBC Radio 3 isn’t as likely to produce delight as it used to be.

  5. This constant noise everywhere is so deeply depressing. I have to drive nine miles to a pub where they don’t pipe this noise from morning to night. I stopped going to Vision Express forever when they refused to turn the noise down while I was waiting. The truth is that it’s not really for the customers. It’s for the staff, most of whom are stupid and brainwashed with the stuff. My sons cannot be without noise piped into their ears no matter what they are doing.. One is a doctor the other an intelligent chap. I’ve worked in infant schools in Birmingham where they play rap and the rest of the modern crap at full volume to the four year olds. The young “teachers” and assistants demand it.

  6. Couldn’t agree more. I’ve been increasingly infuriated by the proliferation of pop “music” in all public spheres in recent years.

    I’m 41 years old and love jazz and easy listening, but certainly wouldn’t want the general public to be subjected to my music taste. As ever, the younger members of society think their taste and wishes trump everyone else’s.

    One of the most infuriating instances of this is the London New Year’s Eve fireworks display. Utterly ruined by loud & aggressive pop/[c]rap “music”, no doubt chosen by some pubescent public sector worker who thinks they’re doing everyone a favour. If I’m forced to watch the fireworks on television, I have to do so with the sound off to avoid feeling every more ripped off as a London council tax payer.

    • If it were youth choice it would be understandable, but I suspect it isn’t. Like the capitulation to the demands ugly street mobs we seem to have people in authority and power cooperating in the destruction of civilised values. Those who should be guiding the young out of their jungle of half-baked ideas are cosying up to them as friends.

      • Spot on. Those in authority are currently in desperate need of proving themselves “allies” of the young and intolerant.

    • As firework displays are purely visual displays why do they need to sound like an artillery barrage of explosions? Illogical. A blind person wouldn’t go to a firework display would they?

      • Richard Arnold: If fireworks didn’t make a noise, how could one frighten the demons away?

        The problem isn’t that fireworks make a noise. The problem is that people don’t understand when such noise is appropriate (Bonfire Night and Hogmanay) and when it isn’t (363¼ days of the year).

  7. May I suggest you’re aiming for the wrong end of the promenade. Holywell is a quiet delight, particularly at low tide in the late summer months when one can amble sloth-like and barefoot through the shallows as the early evening sun slinks towards the horizon. It ranks on its day as one of the best spots in the world. Pity that a few hundred yards up the beach people throw themselves off the cliffs wholesale. There’s a strange energy about that small stretch of coastline, likely due to the Andraste ley line running down the Cuckmere River onto Beachey Head itself. Albion and it’s many mysteries. A beautiful place.

  8. When you read “there’s a much more terrible disease around than Covid-19… I mean that audible filth called pop music” in the first para you just know you’re in for yet another idiotic rant about some imagined hardship, most of which will be made up. I’m not aware of hearing any music in any supermarket, from lidl to Waitrose, and as for University Challenge, the single music question – hardly “full of it” – has covered literally every genre, so unless you hate all music there surely must be something for you.

    And yes, I do love music, almost everything except most opera and country. I feel sorry for you if you don’t.

    • Andrew: Fr Mullen probably knows that he’s “ranting”. It’s called rhetoric, and used to be rightly admired in the days of Demosthenes, Cicero, Burke and Churchill.

      In the rest of your incoherent attack on Fr Mullen, you accuse him of disliking some genres of music, without providing evidence that the genres he dislikes are music.

      You dislike “most opera” (as do I, as it happens) but you imply that you like “grime” and “heavy metal”. Why? And how would “grime” and “heavy metal” help elderly patients to recover from their hip replacement operations?

  9. It’s been a long time but I remember Weatherspoons having a no music policy. It was among the real ale selection and meal deals as a reason for visiting.

    • Be quiet man! These snobs wouldn’t be seen dead in Wetherspoons with us “oiks”. We don’t want them thinking it might actually be worth a visit.

      • Correct.

        You are an oik in the sense that Roger Scruton drew attention to: the fear and disgust with one’s home, specifically one’s native land and, in our case, enlightenment values. It is usually accompanied by excessive sympathy for anything foreign, especially subversive and depraved, as in the backward deserts of North Africa and the Middle East.

        Well done. Sooner or later a stopped clock is right.

        • Well you can keep your “enlightenment values”; some of us have actually progressed beyond the 17th century.

          It’s not my home or native land I have a problem with, it’s some of the ignorant people who live here. You can start with the racist and very uncouth Sibthorpe and Blaiklock.

          • C18th as a matter of fact, and the C20th was such an improvement we thought it couldn’t get worse. Silly us.

            Someone call his nurse.

        • Michael/Myles,
          The M.O of Wee Andy is a (fittingly) simple one.
          First you peruse what someone who actually knows what they are talking about has written.
          Then you immediately quote it verbatim hoping to give your puerile reply a little gravitas.
          Then say the exact opposite.
          Then, having run out of “ideas”, throw in some abuse for good measure.

          • Good piece Peter. I’ve found that the only way to avoid it in some waiting rooms, where there’s a TV blaring, is to find the handset and mute it without anyone noticing, or at least ask if anyone minds it being turned down. Most people will just continue to stare at the set anyway although sometimes I get the encouraging response that I can turn it off if I like, because they can’t stand it anyway. In the pub I’ve stayed at many times I ask them to at least turn it down and this usually works because they actually have different control levels for various parts of the bar. To get them to turn it off usually prompts the response “my customers like it” so I can’t turn it off. I’ve watched the faces of the people in the bar and they just seem to talk around it, over it, under it and in front of it seemingly ignoring it, but strangely they are immediately alerted to some sort of fear in their brain if it’s actually turned off. It’s almost a fear of the quiet and the stillness….typical I’m afraid of city, town and some village people. In the bush where I come from some people going for walks, where one would normally expect a seeking of peace and tranquillity are continually shouting and the children screaming out, anything to avoid the quiet. As for it somehow being a benefit to the healing process in a hospital ward I find that very hard to believe, impossible even. The opposite would be true if they were really ill, with possibly the desire to turn the noise back on an indication that they were better, or at least getting better. To differentiate would be down to personal taste I suppose or hearing problems, but in an orderly society surely ordered tone is far more natural, and conducive to a feeling of well being, than engineered sound ?

  10. When I took my late father to hospital, on what was the day when the surgeon informed him there was nothing further to be done. We were met by a salsa dancing demonstration in the hospitals entrance hall. The Department of Enforced Jollity had struck again.

  11. I’m a regular patient on a clinical trial and agree this is a fresh hell to look forward to. Luckily for me, the ward I go to has the TVs off most of the time – that’s compulsory too – and I always have a supply of earplugs.