Reading: / Matching Headings / Part 3

                                                                                                            Passage         According to the Royal National Institute for Deaf People, there has been a threefold increase in hearing loss and, in the future, deafness will become an epidemic.  It is hardly surprising that new research shows complaints about noise, in particular loud music and barking dogs, are on the increase. So dire has the situation become that the National Society for Clean Air and the Environment was even moved to designate 7 June 2000 as Noise Action Day.

B         There are so many different sources of noise competing for people’s attention.  Travelling on a train as it saunters gently through the countryside was once a civilised and enjoyable experience. That delight has but disappeared.  Because we have to reach our destination more quickly, the train hurtles at break-neck speed along tracks not designed to carry carriages at such high velocity.  The train is noisier, and so are the occupants.  They have to compete with the din of the train and the conversations of their fellow travellers.  And then there are the ubiquitous headphones (one set if you are lucky); not to mention that bane of all travellers, the mobile phone -not one’s own, of course, because one has switched it off.  The noise sensitive, a growing minority group, are hit by a double whammy here: the phone going off and the person answering in a loud voice, because they cannot believe the other person can hear.  And let us not forget computer games making horrid noises given by parents to keep their children quiet!  It is, however, gratifying to see that some train companies request people to keep the volume of their headphones down.  It still strikes one as strange that people have to be reminded to do this.  Like no-smoking carriages they should have more no-noise carriages: mobile-free, headphone-free, computer-free zones!

C         And the answer?  Should people simply stay at home?  No, not really.  The neighbours do DIY: if you are lucky between 9 am and 7pm, and if you are not, 24 hours a day.  They play loud music, sing, play the piano, rip up their carpets; they jump up and down on bare floorboards to annoy you further.  They have loud parties to irritate you and cats, dogs and children that jump onto bare wooden floors and make your heart stop.  And, because they want to hear the music in other parts of their flat they pump up the volume, so that you can feel the noise as well as hear it.  And if you are very fortunate, they attach the stereo to the walls above your settee, so that you can vibrate as well.  Even if you live in a semi-detached or detached property, they will still get you.

D         People escape to the countryside and return to the urban environment.  They cannot tolerate the noise - the tractors, the cars and the motorbikes ripping the air apart as they career along country roads. Then there are the country dirt-track rallies that destroy the tranquillity of country weekends and holidays.  And we must not forget the birds!  Indeed, the dawn chorus is something to contend with.  So, when you go to the countryside, make sure you take your industrial ear-muffs with you!

E         A quiet evening at the cinema, perhaps, or a restaurant?  The former will have the latest all-round stereophonic eardrum-bursting sound system, with which they will try to deafen you.  Film soundtracks register an average of 82 decibels with the climax of some films hitting as high as 120!  And in the restaurant, you will be waited on by waiters who have been taking their employers to court, because the noise in their working environment is way above the legal limits. Normal conversation registers at 60 decibels but noise levels of up to 90 are frequent in today’s restaurants.  The danger level is considered to be any noise above 85 decibels!  What is it doing to your eardrums then?  Shopping is also out, because stereophonic sound systems have landed there, too.

F          Recently the law in the United Kingdom has been changed vis-à-vis noise, with stiffer penalties: fines, confiscation of stereo equipment and eviction for serious offences.  Noise curfews could also be imposed in residential areas by enforcing restrictions on noise levels after certain times in the evenings, tighter legislation is a step in the right direction but there is no one solution to the problem, least of all recourse to the law.  In some well-publicised cases, the legal and bureaucratic process has been unbearable enough to drive people to suicide.

G         The situation needs to be addressed from a variety of different angles simultaneously.  There are practical solutions like using building materials in flats and houses that absorb sound: sound-proofing material is already being used in recording studios and, whilst it is far from cheap to install, with research and mass sales, prices will come down.  Designers have begun to realise that there is a place for soft furnishings in restaurants, like carpets, soft wall-coverings and cushions.  As well as creating a relaxing ambiance, they absorb the noise.

H         Informal solutions like mediation are also frequently more effective than legislation. And the answer may partly be found in the wider social context. The issue is surely one of public awareness and of politeness, of respect for neighbours, of good manners, and also of citizenship; in effect, how individuals operate within a society and relate to each other.  Perhaps we need to be taught once again tolerate silence.

Questions 1 - 7

Reading Passage has eight paragraphs A-H.

From the list of headings below choose the most suitable heading for each paragraph.

Write the appropriate numbers i-xiii in boxes 1-7 on your answer sheet.

List of Headings



 Social solutions



 The law backs noise



 Some practical solutions



 The beautiful countryside



 Noise from mobiles



 Neighbour noise



 Noisy travellers



 Noise to entertain you



 Noisy restaurants



 The law and noise



 Rural peace shattered



 A quiet evening at the restaurant



 Noise on the increase




                       Paragraph A



Paragraph B


Paragraph C


Paragraph D


Paragraph E


Paragraph F


Paragraph G


Paragraph H