Never trust a woman wearing a humorous brooch. Especially one that looks like it was picked up for 50p at a seaside knick-knack shop. For unless this jewel was, in fact, crafted to her specifications by Cartier, Hazel Blears must have chanced across it on a recent Saturday afternoon, exclaiming, "Look, a fabulous brooch that sums up exactly my rebel spirit! 'Completely unacceptable', my leather-clad arse. This'll show him."
It was a curious way to make a statement, fashion or political. Brooches are the favoured adornment of conservative, matronly types (Thatcher and the Queen, indie pin-up Chloe Sevigny, too, but she's being ironic). I had Hazel down as a wilder gal. Perhaps she calls it "a badge", not unlike the sloganeering metal pin-badges students wore in protest before Facebook groups were invented. There was no shame in one of those, although I've been wearing my "Free Aung San Suu Kyi" badge for years to very little effect. Badge, brooch or "bradge", whatever it was she pinned on her lapel, while I won't be sad to see Hazel go, I will miss her rum sartorial choices.
What's that noise?
Can you hear that? Click-click-click, it goes, a rapid, ratcheting sound. I can hear this in our living room, but only in the evenings. In our bedroom, I can hear a different noise: a low whirring, interspersed with a muffled pop. If I'm sitting at my desk in the spare room, it's a distant, high-pitched bleep, like the warning signal made by a rubbish truck.
I'm lucky. I can identify the source of each irritant in my urban soundscape. Sufferers of "the hum" – a low-frequency noise said to cause serious illness – aren't as fortunate. Last month scientists concluded those who hear "the hum" simply have over-sensitive hearing.
If that was an unsympathetic response, sufferers might find succour in the work of Suzi Tibbetts, an applied arts student at the Royal College of Arts, which holds its fantastic postgraduate show until Sunday. Tibbetts makes art installations that transform annoying sounds into entertainment: a coffee table that buzzes to the rhythm of a waltz, a gold-plated record player that makes no noise (geddit?), and dummy "silencer" jacks, also gold-plated, into which the iPod addict can plug their headphones and hear... nothing. Bliss.
Careful with that X
I'm embarrassed to say it's been a decade since I last voted. So tell me, when did the voting paper become the size of a bed sheet? The yellow slip, when folded up, was manageable enough. But once inside the booth, attempting to open it up, I felt like I was flailing with a map of America in a particularly cramped Smart Car. I hope voters didn't give up and simply put a cross in the box placed conveniently at the top of the paper: in my ward, and I suspect others, it belonged to the BNP.