How to deal with noisy theatregoers — and the lowdown on long hair

‘If that doesn’t work then bring out your extended selfie stick and protrude it in front of the noisy offenders’

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It seems that the longer a lady’s hair is, the more she flicks it. To wit, I find long hair not just boring but a throwback to what women must have looked like in the days of cave dwellings and no hair stylists. Is flicking one’s hair from right to left a manifestation that their long hair is bothersome or is it body language for “admire me”?

Have you never seen Raquel Welch in the film One Million Years BC? Just look at its iconic poster and you will not have any cause for complaint about women in prehistoric cave dwellings without hair stylists! Indeed, as far as I am concerned, Raquel can flick her hair in and out of her cave, from dawn till dusk, and not a strand of my hair will be ruffled! The fact is that a long mane of hair on women is very attractive to men. Remember Lady Godiva who had long hair and rode naked on a white horse through the city of Coventry? That was another irresistible icon. Her husband, the Earl of Mercia, had imposed heavy taxes on his subjects, and said he would only remit them if his wife, who pleaded on behalf of the people, stripped naked and rode through the town. Everyone was told to close their windows and all did so, except for a tailor called Tom who drilled a hole in his shutters and became the eponymous Peeping Tom!

Anyway, it is surely the prerogative of a woman to have long hair, which she might throw back with an arching head, or run her fingers through as she speaks, or, even at times, twist a loose strand and chew its end, all of which to attract attention. These are animal sexual instincts that have come to define feminine allurement stretching back to Eve at the beginning of time. Long may it last until the end of time!


My wife and I recently attended a performance of Handel’s Messiah at Saint Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue, New York. Sitting in front of us was a couple that whispered occasionally during the performance but at one point began what was almost a conversation. I tapped the women on the shoulder, received no acknowledgment and was about to do so again when my wife grabbed my arm and, bowing to a cooler head, I desisted. The nattering ceased and I began to enjoy the superb performance. I was later told that I shouldn’t have touched the offending party. Could you please advise on the correct procedure/protocol in dealing with a similar situation given that I did not wish to make a noise and was lacking pencil and paper?

Tapping involves contact and is technically the beginning of an assault. Better to lean forward and just make the “Shhh” noise. You can first do so pianissimo then, if the disturbance persists, follow it with a longer fortissimo. If it still doesn’t work then bring out your extended selfie stick and protrude it in front of the offenders, behind whom you might contort your face and stick your tongue out. Then post and expose them on social media as noise pariahs.

I also encounter insufferable noises and smells in cinemas: packets of crisps, boxes of chocolate and, worst of all, stinking hot dogs or tortilla crisps with salsa! They totally ruin one’s peace and quiet in the darkness for an hour or two. I now sometimes bring a torch and strobe it around the culprits.

But going back to oratorios, did you know that in Bach’s days, when St Matthew Passion was performed, the entire audience or congregation was expected to stand up and join in the famous chorus. I did that last at St John’s Smith Square in London, and it really was exciting to have a few hundred people rising to sing the chorus — three times in all.

How many Christmas cards did you receive? Do you send out as many? What do you do with them afterwards?

My wife and I long ago became too lazy to send Christmas cards, in the hope of receiving fewer. But it hasn’t happened. We get loads. I immediately jettison those sent with catalogues or in blatant disguise as trade, and those with no signature or with a printed signature. On the whole, it is simply not worth keeping any card without one’s name inside. Otherwise, I keep all the funny ones and mostly the ones with photographs of ugly children or ageing parents or, thankfully, dogs. Yes we only really love the ones with dogs. But at Epiphany, the whole lot is tipped into the waste paper basket.

Please post comments and questions at the end of this article, or email david.tang@ft.com

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