Something To Declare: Can we still escape the noise of the world?

 

I once sat in the garden of one of our most idyllic Herefordshire B&Bs, drinking tea and listening to my hostess waxing lyrical about the tranquillity of this quietest of areas: the Welsh Marches. Then we ducked as two fighter jets screamed overhead, preparing for the invasion of Iraq. It was more surprising than it was alarming, but it did remind me that total peace is elusive in these isles. "Noise" takes many forms other than the scream of fighter jets.

I had a letter recently from one of our devoted readers making a radical suggestion, or perhaps a heart-felt plea. She was pressing us to create a collection of special places free from all Wi-Fi interference – or electromagnetic "noise".

If only, she wrote, she and her husband could go away for a weekend without the fear of the inevitable insomnia and headaches should there be Wi-Fi close by. Several of her friends had the same problem, she claimed, and they all spend a lot of time double-checking for Wi-Fi before going on holiday (not easy when the neighbour's Wi-Fi can sneak in unannounced).

I had no idea that Wi-Fi might interfere with the well-being of people within its reach. Apparently, she told me, up to 2 per cent of humans are susceptible to a range of effects including nausea, insomnia, headaches and a racing heartbeat.

I'm no scientist, but I am inclined to cynicism. Not about claims such as these, but about any industry which says that its products are harmless.

Nevertheless, a little research revealed a general rejection of such fears. It is not easy to prove that Wi-Fi does absolutely no harm, but almost impossible to prove that it hurts. Perhaps, I pondered, there is some personal susceptibility to heavy electromagnetic "fog" when there are all sorts of devices – especially mobile phones and computers – in the house.

This all raises a matter that is interesting to many of us who travel. How can we escape the noise, the pervasive sense of being contactable by the whole world? Don't we want to get away? OK, so there are times when we need to be in touch, to gaze at the giant flatscreen and hear the comforting tinkle of our mobile. But there are other times when we need peace. I wonder if humanity will not one day suffer from a form of global tinnitus – an eternal and unstoppable buzzing in our ears.

Yet, for those who dig deep to find it, there are numberless quiet corners still. I am moved enough by our reader's plight to consider creating a collection of especially quiet places to stay and to see if we can also guarantee freedom from Wi-Fi. I'd do it not for scientific reasons, but for the very sensible idea that without this brilliant beast there is less interference from the outside world. A little silence, too, might help us all. Trees, flowers and grass grow in silence, Mother Teresa reminded us. Perhaps we do too.

Alastair Sawday is founder of Sawday's, the guide to special places to stay in the UK and Europe. See sawdays.co.uk

Suggested Topics
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tvSPOILER ALERT: Like a mash-up of 28 Days Later, Braveheart, The Killing and Lord of the Rings, this GoT episode was a belter
Life and Style
Angel Di Maria is shown the red card
tech
Sport
Roger Federer after his win over Tomas Berdych
sport
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Bid Writer

    £25000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

    £23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

    Day In a Page

    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific
    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    Dame Colette Bowe - interview
    When do the creative juices dry up?

    When do the creative juices dry up?

    David Lodge thinks he knows
    The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

    Fashion's Cher moment

    Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
    Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

    Health fears over school cancer jab

    Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
    Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

    Weather warning

    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
    LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

    High hopes for LSD

    Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
    German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

    Saving Private Brandt

    A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral