Although I used to be a regular there, it’s been quite a while since I’ve had any reason to visit Hammersmith bus station (otherwise referred to as The Centre Of The Known Universe). But, earlier this evening, as I found myself back in those familiar surroundings while waiting for the 211, I heard something rather disconcerting.
It was the unmistakeable sound of Muzak drifting around the terminus.
And not just any Muzak either. Oh no, it was Classical Muzak of the most relaxing and inoffensive variety — I’m talking delicate string quartets and tinkling pianos rather than Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring or Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.
Because I was bored beyond belief, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Why?”
Do the Powers That Be down Hammersmith way think that if waiting passengers are exposed to soothing classical sounds it will have some positive effect?
“Damn it. I’ve been waiting for the 220 to Putney for over half an hour and I’m getting bloody well … gosh, that’s a Chopin piano sonata unless I’m much mistaken. I could sit here and listen to that all day. Who needs a bus, anyway?”
Or: “Oi, Bazza. I’ve got me eye on that old dear over there. I reckon we could ‘ave it away with her handbag if we … blimey, that’s Erik Satie, innit? I’m quite partial to a bit of Satie meself. You know what? I’m feeling all warm inside. Let’s go and see if that nice old lady wants a cup of tea from the caff.”
Public transport. Muzak. I’m sorry, but the two simply don’t go together. Well, not unless it’s something modern and dissonant. Harrison Birtwhistle on the Piccadilly Line, anyone?