A second chance for those who didn't shut up yesterday

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The Independent Culture
I AM afraid I missed the two minutes silence yesterday. What can I do about it ?

You get another chance this coming Wednesday, when the two minute silence will be repeated.

Why is the two minute silence being repeated? Is it for the benefit of people who forgot to observe it first time round?

Well, of course it will be very useful if you forgot to observe it- or forgot to put your clocks back and therefore observed the two minute silence at midday instead of 11 o'clock. It will give you all a chance to get it right this Wednesday.

Not to mention those of us who did want to observe it but had a bit of a hacking cough and made a lot of noise...

And, as you say, those of you who have no self-control. But that is not the real reason that they are doing the two minute silence again.

Oh? What is the real reason?

The real reason is that BBC Radio 4 is very short of money and they are repeating every programme they can lay their hands on. It is very cheap radio to broadcast a silence, and even cheaper to repeat it.

Do they actually repeat the same silence or do they broadcast a new one?

They have actually been using the same silence for over 20 years, recorded on location at the Cenotaph in 1975. If you listen very carefully, you can hear the same baby cry at the same point, after 23 seconds, each time.

I'm afraid I was not able to observe the two minute silence on Sunday and I won't be able to observe it this Wednesday either. So what I did was to pre-record it on video and off the radio, and then observe the two minute silence later. Do you think there could be any objection to this?

Well, I think it loses a little of the point. It is all meant to happen at the same time. I am not sure you can actually observe a two minute silence retrospectively. I mean, it's a bit like standing for the National Anthem two hours after they've actually played it. Also, you might be into copyright problems if you did a pirate recording of the two minute silence.

Is it copyright?

I am not sure about this, but I think the BBC does have rights to it. It is one of the very few sporting events they still have a right to broadcast.

Is the two minute silence a sporting event, then?

Not really, but if you listen with your eyes shut, it is indistinguishable from Test Match cricket on television.

What about those of us who did observe the two minute silence yesterday? Those of us who pulled in to the side of a motorway and switched off our engines, thus causing major pile-ups? Those of who were halfway through a phone conversation when we suddenly realised that it was time for the silence and went very quiet, thus causing the person at the other end to say `Hello? Hello? Hello?' for two minutes? Or in my case, those of us who were rung up halfway through the two minute silence by a market survey on behalf of British Airways? What of us?

There is no reason why, having observed the two minute silence once, you shouldn't observe it again.

But then I will have observed a four minute silence. I can't afford to start spending that sort of time just being quiet. Four minutes is a long time. You could run a mile in four minutes. I don't want to spend four valuable minutes doing nothing!

Some monks spend most of the day in silence, and they don't consider it time wasted.

Yes, but monks haven't got a busy customer care department to run, have they?

Have you got a busy customer care department to run ?

No. As a matter of fact, I run the export division of a very successful monastery.

Really? What sort of things do monasteries export?

Best-selling plainsong records. Dried flowers. Gowns and cowls. Very strong beer. Easy-to-follow prayer manuals. Do-it-yourself home tonsure kits. New age recordings...

Recordings of what?

Natural sounds, mostly. Burbling streams. Rain falling. Whales singing. But our most popular recording is of silence.

You put out a record of silence?

Yes, just 65 minutes of silence, which people can meditate to or just relax to. Not just any silence. This was silence recorded on location in the abbey. It's a very holy silence...

I see.

Or you can get it on the Internet. If you visit our website, you can download our silence from it.

Thank you.

Not at all.