STFU. It's a terrible acronym that I use far too often (usually to myself), when faced with such situations as one morning last week when the chap in front of me on the bus had his headphones over his hipster bobble hat. This necessitated top volume, to get through the wool. I heard his playlist loud and clear, even if he didn't.
I say it to myself when HSBC blasts its ATM queues with its in-house radio station's carols, in mid-November. And – uncharitably - when the next door's three children start wailing in unison five seconds after Homeland starts.
I'm not a fan, you see, of noise pollution. One of my great pleasures in life is the silent movement of my electric car. It's not big, or fancy, or fast but is very, very quiet. And living in a city, where cars roar up and down side roads to shave three minutes off their journey and use the horn as a "friendly" reminder that the lights turned green 0.5 seconds ago, there is too much traffic noise.
You'd think everyone around me would be delighted that I have a quiet car, but no. The snappy sounding United Nations Economic Commission for Europe has just announced plans for a legal ruling that would require electric vehicles to make a noise from 2013. According to the Government's Transport Research Laboratory, pedestrians are more likely to be hit by an electric car than one with an engine. I am, apparently, a "silent killer".
While I have sympathy with anyone who's ever been involved in a traffic accident, this seems bloody pig-headed. We must have more noise because pedestrians can't or won't look at the road before they cross it? C'mon.
Only this morning a cyclist drifted across two lanes in front of me to turn right with no glance behind, and no arm stuck out. She was relying on sound to alert her if there was a car nearby. Only by braking hard did I avoid hitting her (even in a tinny little GWiz at 20mph that's going to hurt). Still, she definitely heard what I said (OK, shouted) afterwards. Parents who drag their children across the road to save walking 20 yards to the pedestrian crossing, and do so without looking (sometimes using a buggy as an announcement of intent) are also going to get the Markwell hairdryer treatment.
It shouldn't have to be this way. I'm a reasonable woman. I'm prepared to meet you halfway. How about you look before you cross the road/change lanes, and I'll slow down as I approach you, and then no one will get hurt. Not so hard, is it?