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Local Soundscapes: Further Auscultations

June 13, 2008

If I were obliged to recall, in a roll of honour, those activities  which in the course of my interminable existence have given me only a mild pain in the balls, the blowing of a rubber horn–toot!–would figure among the first.”  Samuel Beckett, Malloy

Here’s another remark to make about how the sounds outside my very tiny window alter according to daily, seasonal and super-seasonal cycles.  There have been two extended periods of horn-blowing in the last week, lasting for several hours following each of Portugal’s fairly routine victories in the European Championships.  Perhaps because, like Beckett’s Malloy, this activity is one of life’s few activities to cause them only a mild pain in the balls, the “Portuguese” have been going at it with gusto.

Soundscape-wise, we’re quite used to animal expressions of joy, signifying nothing, and it would be tempting to classify these extended outbursts among them.  That certainly seems to be why the destitute Malloy toots his bicycle horn.  But I reckon that I’m hearing something else, too.  The people making all the noise around here are Canadians who identify as Portuguese; their horn-blowing is either an assertion of a right to claim ancestry, or just standard expatriate exaggeration of national character (I myself have become much more English since moving to Canada in 2005).

That might sound cold and unnecessarily analytical, but how else to process the interminable sound of someone else’s party?

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