I love watching the English TV show “Escape to the Country”. Like many millions of others around the world, I imagine myself in any number of “character-filled” homes near a lovely village.
But I am always amazed that even when they are seemingly in the middle of the countryside, you can hear the roar, sometimes distant, sometimes close by, of a busy motorway.
Is there nowhere in England that the peace of total quiet can be heard?
My current friend, J.B. Priestley (OK, he’s not my friend but I really like his book that I have referred to before) opines that quiet “is the most luxurious commodity on the world. I doubt if wealth can buy anything better than a little extra privacy and quietness.”
I know, I know, people in glass houses etc etc. The car has given me wonderful holidays and access to quiet, peaceful areas. And my two huge road trips in the last two weeks’ break obviously come at the expense of someone’s peace and quiet, not to mention all the pollution.
I live near one of the noisiest roads of Sydney. I no longer hear it or the trains that run between me and the noisy road. Unless there is an especially noisy train or truck.
I do love to escape noise. Hard to imagine that in the early 20th century, according to Priestley, they thought modern transport was too fast for humankind to deal with. Too noisy and too fast pace. They feared mental distress. And there was Priestley, never thinking we’d get to over a hundred kilometres an hour. And how prescient is Priestley with this idea: No that we are whizzed about the world, there is no time for absorbing and adjusting. Perhaps it is for this reason that the world that the traveller knows is beginning to show less and less variety. By the time we can travel at four hundred miles an hour we shall probably move over a dead uniformity, so that the bit of reality we left at one end of a journey is twin to the bit of reality we step into at the other end. Movement but no real travel.
Anyone stuck in airports will know this is so.
But back to cars.
On our road trips, I hate it when Mr S stops for a tea and sandwich break by the side of the highway. I’d rather drive a little off the main road, and drink my tea without the sound of traffic.
So my dilemma is: where to live when I love the culture, restaurants, libraries, theatre, people watching of urban life but hate the noise of traffic.
My recent trip to the northwest of the state was heaven. Peace and quiet. But I know while I dream of living in such a peaceful place, after a few days I’d dream of leaving.
Are you suffering nervous distress from the speed and noise of modern transport? And where do you sit on the Quiet Country/ Busy City dichotomy?
Tell me your thoughts. And if you live on the east coast of Australia, or even better close to Sydney, where should I live?