“You gotta help me, Doc,” I say truthfully, “The music in your waiting room is really fucking dreadful.”
Having just got back from a city break in Rome, the bad music in the Glaswegian doctors’ waiting room highlights one of the differences between UK cities and those on the continent. In Rome, they play classical music on the tube. It turns a mundane everyday micro-journey into a potentially enriching experience. In Glasgow (and on the RyanAir flight home) the music in public spaces tends to be of a quality so low it makes your mobile phone ringtone sound as though Mantovani was involved in its production. I wonder why? If you’ve got the ability to pump music into people’s ears why not make it half decent? It can’t be a money issue. Classical music is basically free.
Today in the doctors’ office, I had arrived fifteen minutes early for my appointment, eager to see my GP about [insert horrible ailment here]. Trying to read my book, I am distracted by the music on the waiting room sound system. It’s horrible. Really intrusive.
The first song was the one in which overrated simpering cock-pop band The Beach Boys (at least I think it’s them) try to encourage a consortium buyout on Bruce Forsyth’s face:
“Come all without, come all within,
Let’s all club to together for the frightening chin.”
Or maybe I’ve misunderstood the lyrics. Setting up a commune in the spacious jawbone of any popular TV personality (especially one as famous as Brucie) is a laudable cause but the song must be twenty years old now and I don’t think there has been any progress on the buyout. It would have been in the newspaper.
The next song was by a band whose name I do not know, but it is an utterly revolting number about a vain person apparently known by the singer. One of the lines goes:
“I bet you think this song is about you, don’t you, don’t you“.
Who is she talking to? Is she talking to me (the listener) or to an unseen person within the song’s narrative?
If she’s talking to me, I’m astonished at the suggestion that I might think her song was about me. The thought hadn’t entered my head until she got so vehement about it.
It’s the final “Don’t you” that scares me the most though. If I wasn’t paying attention to her song before, trying desperately to ignore it, I was certainly aware of it now. It was like being happy-slapped by a stranger. It’s a horribly aggressive and unsolicited lyric and makes you want to respond but you can’t because the person singing it is safely locked away in a recording studio somewhere in the past. But if I could reply it would be by saying “Who the hell are you? Leave me alone, you aching butthole.”
But no. Of course, she is addressing the fictional person within the song’s narrative: the vain man who has somehow wronged her. But even this doesn’t quite make sense. Why would she claim the song wasn’t about him when it was entirely directed at him?
Singer: “I bet you think this song is about you, don’t you, don’t you“.
Unseen person: “Um, yes. I do. You are saying these words to me after all. And can you stop shouting please? You spat in my eye a bit there.”
The icing on the cake of all this horrible middle-of-the-road and lyrically baffling music was that when the radio DJ chipped in he told me that the time was 11:45. But it wasn’t! It was about 5:30 in the afternoon. Some dipshit had taped this off the radio! The music would all have been forgivable if the it was just coming in on the radio. We all know DJs are stupid and just play what the record labels have told them to play. But someone at the doctors’ office had thought that this chunk of mid-morning radio it was especially good enough to tape and to bring in to work. Fuck!
According to the doctor, music is required in the waiting room so that waiting patients aren’t tempted to eavesdrop into sensitive phone calls at the reception desk. Fair enough, I decide (though now I think about it, who talks about their medical condition to the receptionist?).
Could you not put on some relaxing classical music or something instead though?
No. Apparently the young people who use the centre don’t like the classical music. They find it too formal. And you can’t upset the young people. If they stop coming in for their weekly swabs, half of Glasgow will have chlamydia before you can say “Irn Bru-soaked ratbag”.
I suggest that a long, deafening tone might be better.
The doctor worries that this would make people think they had tinnitus and she’d end up prescribing unnecessary medications.
I’m tempted to put together a mix tape of ‘suitable for everyone’ music to take in. But that’s the behaviour of an old man, isn’t it?