Thursday is the day my husband and I do our weekly shopping. First stop is the supermarket at Darras Centre, Kensington, Johannesburg. When we began going there a few years ago I was delighted to discover that the store did not play the usual mindless music I had encountered in many other supermarkets. But in the last year or so all this has changed. The store now plays the radio station which goes by the same name as the supermarket chain, and as soon as I hear one wailing pop singer or another blasting forth loudly as I enter the shop, my mood is lowered.

A few months ago I complained on the chain’s Facebook page about the type of music played on the station and the high volume at which it is played in the store. I had a phone call from someone working at the station, whose job it was to create the playlist for it. She assured me that the station did not play constant mindless pop as I thought, but even included some classical music to please the minority of shoppers who like that sort of thing. If this is true, I have certainly never heard it! Apparently the majority of shoppers at this store don’t like listening to “funeral music”. Later the store manager phoned and said that if I found the music too loud I should speak to him about it and it would be turned down. On reflection, I did not see why the onus should be on me to go and tell him to turn the station down every time I go into the store.

This morning the music was as loud as ever – screaming pop singers shrieking inane tunes which are apparently recognised as music by the majority of shoppers who enjoy listening to it while they’re buying their groceries and their washing powder. I looked around to see who was shopping at 9 o’clock in the morning and noted that many shoppers were of my advanced age or even older – not a bunch of teenagers heading for a rave. I completed my shopping as quickly as possible so that I could escape the noise, wondering all the while whether to start a Facebook group to join me in a protest against the junk churned out by this station.

We proceeded to Bedford Centre where we always have breakfast at the Wimpy Restaurant there. The waitresses are charming and attentive; the food is always the same, so what can I possibly find wrong with Bedford Centre? Surely the place is ideal after the cacophony in the supermarket at Darras Centre? The management at Bedford Centre obviously think the place is a cut above the ordinary for their policy is to play blaring jazz singing throughout the entire centre. I might enjoy listening to a jazz singer if I choose to attend a night club, but I don’t want to hear amplified jazz singing howling throughout the centre. Bedford Centre did not subject their visitors to constant noise until five or six years ago. What makes them think that this innovation adds to one’s pleasure? Even a well-known chain of book and magazine shops plays their own brand of noisy music. How are you supposed to decide which book or magazine to buy with offensive noise blasting in your ears?

Not everyone has the same musical taste and I believe it would be far better if management in shopping centres and supermarkets stopped inflicting their taste in music on their customers. I was relieved to return home after the assault on my ears this morning. After all, isn’t silence golden?


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Good Reads Book Reviews

The Moon And SixpenceThe Moon And Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Apparently Strickland was based on the artist Paul Gauguin, but if this was the case, there is a very loose connection between the two for this in not a novel a clef. The book held my interest while the narrator had personal contact with Strickland and his wife. Almost from the beginning of the novel, before Charles Strickland had appeared, I thought him a thoroughly reprehensible character.

Admittedly his wife was not an imaginative woman and used her established position in society to cultivate the society of writers and artists although she appeared to be devoid of any artistic talent herself. She obviously regarded her "dull" husband as nothing more than a meal-ticket and she had never encouraged his artistic inclinations. It is only after he leaves her to her own devices that she manages to pull herself together, fend for herself and look after her children without being dependent on a man any longer.

The portrait of a completely self-centred, inarticulate Strickland, who does not care about the opinion of others was well-drawn but after the narrator is no longer in personal contact with Strickland and the rest of the story of Strickland's life is related to him by a third person the story is less satisfactory. I have to admit that I did not finish the last fifty pages of the book. Although I like Maugham's work, this was not my favourite Maugham novel.

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