SOME restaurateurs have been bellyaching about the embargo on “background” music. Their fine words that music creates a “positive atmosphere” butter no parsnips with me. One restaurateur was having a laugh when claiming music “creates harmony”. If a restaurant relies on muzak for harmony and ambience, it’s doing something wrong. Indeed, the only good side-effect of the Covid virus has been the banishment of intrusive music from pubs and restaurants.

The trouble is, ubiquitous background music rarely remains there. It’s invariably aggressive and an assault on the senses. One person’s acceptable volume is another’s incipient migraine.

I have the unhappy knack of regularly being seated near speakers with a decibel output of the local heliport. Furthermore, music is a personal taste and it’s arrogant of managers to impose their preferences on diners. George Bernard Shaw spoke for us all when asked what he would like the restaurant orchestra to play: “Dominoes”.

In some eateries, ear defenders should accompany the menus. Alternatively, the principle of the silent disco could be extended. Those preferring cacophony to conversation could request headphones and listen to food themed playlists. Meatloaf, Cream and the Cranberries could be on the menu, while American Pie and Blueberry Hill would go down a treat with the pudding course.

Modern design also strikes the wrong note. Open plan dining and hard surfaces that reverberate to a repetitive beat create stress for those with hearing problems and conditions such as autism. There’s evidence that noise-related stress suppresses the sense of taste and enjoyment of food.

The current ban might be seen as the nanny state intruding again into everyday life. But that ignores further strong evidence that aerosol emissions increase when we have to raise our voices to make ourselves heard.

It doesn’t have to be like this. The Wetherspoon chain did away with background music 14 years ago and doesn’t appear to have come to any harm. It’s time to fight back. The charity Action on Hearing Loss, is spearheading a campaign against intrusive music and we can all do our bit. Refuse to accept a table in the vicinity of a speaker. If the music is over-loud, politely but firmly request that it be turned down. I was once told, “the staff like it.” The old saying about paying, pipers and calling tunes came in handy at that point.

Fellow diners will admire you for speaking up. Restaurateurs are avid readers of online reviews and numerous complaints about over-loud music won’t fall on deaf ears. Let’s hope there can be a post-Covid peace dividend, with the din removed from dinner and noise finally off the menu.

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