We’ve all been there; you wake up one day to that steady, repetitive scream of a jackhammer scuttling the tarmac on the pavement, you cover your ears using the quilt , but alas, it is to no avail .
The noise gets louder as you move toward the window. You pull the curtains back and there, right in the middle of the road is a team of blokes in hardhats who’ve clearly been living on cold coffee and greasy food since about 4AM. There’s a barrier stopping anyone from going anywhere.
In between the jackhammer’s obtuse battlecry, you catch snippets of loud, full throated conversation, the manner of talking that only comes from years of talking over roadworks.
“So I said to him, ‘listen mate, if you think for one second that I’m gonna-‘
“Nah, I haven’t seen that one yet, but the second was a large pile of—“
You could be forgiven for thinking that it was the Ghostbusters re-playing that classic scene in the second movie, sadly, that’s almost never the case.
You head out to clear your (by now officially ‘splitting’) headache, only to find that the whole street is subject to this mammoth street mining operation, suddenly that series 2 episode of ‘Black Books’ stops being so funny and becomes bitterly resonant.
If that doesn’t answer the problem, then let me become a bit more technical. Headsets could be either active or passive noise cancellers. Passive noise cancellation is simply the act of sticking your fingers (or anything) in your ears (cue fond memory of Roman soldiers using Parsley in the Asterix books). The second type is much more high tech; active noise cancellation actually blocks out outside noise using a low field of white noise, which creates a ‘sound vacuum’ that blocks all sound (sadly including train announcements, enraged motorists and oncoming lorries).
So, to return to our previous scene, the workmen are planning on being here a while. Inquire with the workmen as to what their purpose is and they’ll offer something like
“Yeah, busted gas main, you’re lucky we found it, actually because—“
Soon, everyone will be asking you what they’re doing, here are some answers you can provide that disguise the truth that you yourself have no idea whatsoever: