:: Thursday, December 01, 2005 ::
Noise Survey in a Cottaging Hot Spot
A commanding woman's voice, issued through a loud hailer on the back of a Land Rover, states very clearly that the park is about to close and is being locked up for the day.
Acoustic consultant is standing with sound level meter on path next to park. A steady stream of men nip back and forth through a low spot in the park fence. When outside of the park they pretend to be heading somewhere by pacing up and down. Some adopt of faux drunken stagger as cover. Some chain smoke. Roughly half of them walk like they've been riding a horse for a week.
Young Eastern-European man walks past twice, eyeing consultant.
"Can I ask what you're doing?"
"A noise survey."
"What's it for?"
"They want to re-develop this site." Vaguely gestures behind. "I have to assess the noise for the planning permission."
"So that records everything?"
"Yeah. Not the actual audio, it doesn't record what we’re saying, just stats."
He wanders off.
Half-cast guy with pony tail sticking through back of baseball cap approaches.
"A sound level meter. I'm doing a noise survey."
"A noise survey? Interesting." Pause. "I bet you’re wondering why so many guys are wondering around."
"Actually I wasn't, it's pretty obvious."
"It's amazing what people will do for sex." Pause" "So did you guess right then?"
"Are you gay?"
"You're straight then?"
"Yes. Happily married."
"Bet you wish straight people did this?"
"Isn't that what clubs are for?"
"How long have you been here."
"About two hours. You?"
"Only about 10 minutes so far. It's a bit fucking cold for it tonight."
Blah, blah, various pleasantries and general conversation.
"Well, I better get back to the, um, park. Good luck."
"Good luck to you too."
Short black guy with heavy lisp.
"What are you doing?"
Blah, blah, usual explanation.
"Do you live in London?"
"No, I'm from Bristol."
"Really, have they put you up in a hotel?"
"Ahh. London is nasty. Every bodies getting out now. So what's Bristol like for meeting people?"
"Depends who you want to meet. I mean, I'm married, so that's not much of an issue for me."
"Ahh, yeah, suppose you wouldn't worry about that then."
More pleasantries followed by a debate about the Heathrow stacking system.
Residential side of site. Abrupt middle age woman approaches and starts talking loudly when still at some distance.
"What are you doing!? You're not a bomber are you!?"
Laughs. "No, no. I'm doing a noise survey." Thinks, bombers tend not to use tripods.
"At this time of night!?"
"It's a 24hour survey."
She seems somehow disappointed engineer is not actually a bomber. Suspect she had a whole shaming a suicide bomber out of going through with it speech, written, rehearsed, memorised and ready to go. Alas, we don't get to hear it, and are treated instead to a torrent of statistics about council approved developments in a quarter square mile.
1. Photos are old, from a previous survey, back in June.
2. Is it still called cottaging when it's in a park or does the phrase only apply to public conveniences?
:: Dan 1.12.05 [Arc]
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