Two friends kindly entertained us to lunch in a delightful waterside restaurant. But, oh, the noise Of course this is always something which spoils any social occasion these days: everyone howling at the top of their voices (and in this case a baby with a voice like a circular saw, which happily its mother removed after the first four hours). What’s happened to quiet, civilised conversation? It seems somehow that everyone converses at the top of their voices, whatever and wherever one goes. It’s as though everything starts very pleasantly, then one set of people starts talking rather more loudly than anyone else, and other voices are raised because of them, and gradually the volume increases until the sound resembles the noisier moments of international warfare. The noise at the opera bars at Circular Quay any time after seven is absolutely astonishing in its volume, even without the (almost always dreadful) music that goes on, fff of course. Even in the theatre, these days, where not too long ago there was simply a civilised hum of conversation before the curtain went up, people shriek at each other at the top of their voices. Alright, I sound like an old fart (which after all is what I am), but it does make me at the same time curious and exasperated.