Experimental feature

Listen to this article

00:00
00:00
Experimental feature
or

I live in a small apartment in a quiet complex but share a wall with someone who is either growing marijuana or who smokes it far too often to do much else. My bedroom and wardrobe reek daily. My neighbour doesn’t care. The management says they care, but they don’t. And the police say smoking marijuana is often legal. I’m considering terminating my lease, but who is to say if I move, I won’t run into the same problem?

It is precisely because you won’t find another accommodation that would give you free inhalation of marijuana that you should not move. Isn’t it wonderfully convenient to have a bedroom redolent with the smell of spliffs, which invariably creates a calming atmosphere of half-slumbers and serenity? In darkness, you could even enjoy a mild and harmless trip. And don’t think that smoking a joint or growing grass is not illegal. They both are, in the UK at least. Yet you could innocently plead oblivion and immunity. And if you don’t like the smell all the time, close your bedroom door and leave that as your only trendy sanctuary of rock ’n’ roll pretence.

I was pleased to read David Tang’s comments on noisy restaurants. I would recommend Quiet London: Food and Drink by Siobhan Wall, which lists more than 100 music-free places to eat. Clarke’s in Kensington Church Street has just been voted the quietest restaurant in the UK by Pipedown, a group that campaigns against piped music in public places.

Clarke’s was the restaurant I took my wife to when I asked her out for the first time, precisely because I knew it was a quiet place to eat. To impress her, I read her poetry: Edward Thomas and Rupert Brooke. I explained how Brooke wrote one of my favourite love poems when he was in the South Seas. I still remember reciting to her “A Memory” a poem that Brooke wrote while he was in Waikiki, describing how he fell in love with a local girl who, half asleep, had simply touched his head in a fleeting moment. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do that unless the restaurant was quiet. And it has remained so for 25 years, diligently attended to every day by the obsessive Sally Clarke who, as one of my oldest friends, takes the meaning of dedication to a stratospheric level.

Anyway, it was here that I managed to impress my future wife and I would recommend this restaurant to nascent lovers. Mind you, nowadays when I go out with my wife à deux, she grumpily reminds me that I don’t read her poetry any more. Maybe, if she is not careful, I might read her John Donne’s “Song: Go and catch a falling star”, which demonstrates the impossibility of finding a woman who is constant.

Meanwhile, I must buy Siobhan Wall’s book to seek out all the quiet restaurants, if only to remain quiet in them while eating.

On music in general, I do think that occasionally there may be an argument for it to be found in places that are dull and lifeless like Starbucks. Bach’s “Coffee Cantata” comes to mind, piped in at high volume to wake up properly all those somnambulating executives and secretaries.

I once had a friend who installed a urinal at his home in Bangkok. He explained that he had become tired of male guests who could not aim properly. Surely the best solution is for us all to adopt the female position when going to the loo. I’ve replaced all my WCs with the Japanese washlet variety which have heated seats. Now sitting on the throne is simply divine.

With the legendary bad traffic in Bangkok, every journey takes forever and it would be a comfort to find at one’s destination, especially for us men, an easy refuge for relief, without having to concentrate too much on accuracy. So I would love to have a friend like yours with a utility at hand that makes it less tiresome to be meticulous with one’s trajectory. Your suggestion for men to sit down seems to go against the standard construction of the flies on our trousers, which are designed to facilitate performance by standing up. As for the Japanese lavatories, I hate them because the seats are always too hot and when pressing the wrong button, which is easily done considering all the switches with incomprehensible Japanese characters, I am ambushed by all sorts of surprises, from a mini typhoon to a small geyser going up my inner system. I prefer a simple, old-fashioned design like a decent Thomas Crapper.


Letter in response to this column:

Good restaurants never need piped music

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
myFT

Follow the topics mentioned in this article

Follow the authors of this article