Restaurant are too noisy!

coffee_table_talk_PA_500_wht_6082According to campaigners for the hard of hearing, restaurants are getting so noisy that it’s spoiling people’s enjoyment of the food.

They put part of the blame for the trend of clean decor or minimalist interiors. No carpets, curtains or table cloths to absorb the noise.

I think some restaurants, particularly Italian ones, also create noise deliberately in the belief it adds to the ambience.

For those of you who dislike noisy eating places help is at hand. The charity Action on Hearing Loss is fundraising to develop a mobile app that will allow you to record the decibel levels and enable the loudest restaurants to be “named and shamed” – and avoided by those who want a quiet night out.

The data collected will be fed back to a central database so that an interactive map can be created to let users know which restaurants to avoid.

They are taking this direct approach after writing to 70 restaurant groups – high street chains like Waga-mama, Pizza Express and the group that owns Garfunkels and Frankie & Benny’s – highlighting the problems of excessive noise and offering suggestions as to how it can be reduced. Not one bothered to reply.

The charity cites a recent survey that says 4 out of 5 people have left a restaurant, cafe or pub due to excessive noise and 90% of them saying they wouldn’t return.

Loud music is also a problem according to Pipedown which campaigns to stop shops and restaurants playing music. They say unwanted noise raises your blood pressure and increases your stress levels, apart from damaging your hearing if at very high volumes.

Pipedown had a significant success recently in persuading Marks & Spencer to stop playing background music.

Good luck to both these charities. I’m fed up of struggling to have a conversation when eating out. And while they’re at it they should consider banning smartphones too!

Tesco selling music for good causes

Browsing through the CDs in my local Tesco store I noticed one priced at £1. Which seemed too good a bargain to miss.

It turned out to be a single CD released by Tesco to raise money for its two main charities: The British Heart Foundation, and Diabetes UK.

Both those mean something to me so it had to go in my basket.

The CD is by a family called the Neales who appeared on a TV talent show, obviously a father and his sons.

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Is it any good? Well it’s not my cup of tea but that’s because I thought it might be a cover of the fabulous Four Tops song.

But judge for yourself -after you’ve put for your hand in your pocket for a measly £1. It’s for good causes! 

 

Brits have happiness gene – did I read that correctly?

figure_standing_on_blank_note_text_10947Apparently we’re not such a bunch of stiff upper-lipped grumpy old men as we make out.

Researchers are actually suggesting that Britain comes high up the list of countries with a “happiness gene“.

That puts us alongside a diverse range of countries likeMexico, Ecuador, Ghana and Nigeria, as well as the ones you might expect such as Sweden and Denmark.

Gloomier countries include Arab and eastern Asian states such as Iraq, Egypt, South Korea and eastern european countries like Bulgaria and Romania.

Although the authors of the study say that happiness is due to a mutation that boosts the bliss molecule in the brain rather than a countries economic status or disease it’s hard not to think about the repressive regimes in the gloomy list – although corrupt African countries appear on the happy list.

Michael Minkov, professor of cross-cultural awareness at Varna University of Management in Bulgaria and Michael Bond at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, looked at data from 14 years of the World Values Survey and correlated them with known genetic variants.

One particular pattern of DNA seemed to explain the difference between people who were very happy and those less so.

It’s to do with a mutation called the A allele in the FAAH gene (no me neither) which determines how fast the body breaks down a brain chemical thought to play a part in pleasure and which carries signals between different parts of the brain.

So in countries like Mexico, Nigeria, and Ghana where 50% of the population described themselves as very happy, one-third had the mutation.

Although only 23% of Brits have the mutation (based on surveys of Americans with ancestral roots in Ireland and the rest of Europe so a bit suspect) nearly half of Brits say they are happy!

So is that a good thing? Well contrary to popular belief happy people don’t live longer. The idea that it they did was down to a statistical mistake and once the misery caused by illness was taken into account unhappy people lived just as long as happy people.

Sir Richard Peto, professor of medical statistics and epidemiology at Oxford University, said “Does unhappiness or stress itself directly cause illness? No …. Will it be generally believed? No. This will get forgotten and all the Mickey Mouse studies that showed what people want to believe will continue to be believed.”

His team looked at the British Million Women Study which asked participants about their illnesses and how happy they felt. It followed them for 10 years during which time 48,000 of them died.

Lead researcher Bette Lieu from the University of New South Wales said “Illness makes you unhappy but unhappiness doesn’t make you ill. We found no direct effect of unhappiness or stress on mortality, even in a ten-year study of a million women.”

Looking at over half a million women who were in good or excellent health and rated themselves as happy they found they were just as likely to die as those who were miserable or stressed.

However Professor Andrew Steptoe of University College London, who has written several studies linking happiness and a sense of control to a longer life, said “Richard Peto seems to think that no one has ever thought of the cause-effect relationship between happiness and health which is of course absurd. It’s a major issue in the field and one that has been evaluated with much more sophisticate measures than were used in the Million Women study“.

So perhaps there’s still time for you to be more cheerful. A study from the LSE of 10,000 people over 50 years of age into what social activities made them happy found that going to church was better than charity work or doing sport. Not necessarily because of the spiritual element.

Volunteering didn’t lead to better mental health – which may be due to the stresses involved.

And joining a political organisation is definitely not good for your health and will make you unhappy.

So the pursuit of happiness is not an easy path to find despite all the self-help books and gurus out there offering to hep you.

Burnley, Macmillan Nurses and “Two Shades of Grey”………………..

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

So it was off to deepest, darkest Lancashire this morning heading for the illustrious (?) town of Burnley (or West Islamabad as it is known to the locals) for a performance by my friend and colleague who forms one half of the group “Two Shades of Grey.” (www.2shadesofgrey.net).

The gig was being held at the “notorious” venue of Costa Coffee within the confines of the giant Tesco store in the town centre and was in aid of the Macmillan Cancer Support Charity (something I know is very dear to my friend).

The concert was in full flow when I arrived to an audience made up of both old and young, many of whom appeared to be regulars, as they all seemed to know each other.

During the three sessions they did a variety of numbers by such artists as Bobby Vee, Ray Charles, Joan Baez, The Drifters and a host…

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Arts & Crafts Festivals endure in villages

Last week saw the 41st Arts & Crafts Festival to take place in the village of Worsthorne, a village on the edge of Burnley, Lancashire,with a population of under 3,000 which dates back to the early 13 century.

There are probably hundreds of such events taking place around the country where local people bake cakes, display or sell their arts and crafts and raise money for the village.

The theme this year was the swinging sixties with displays of memorabilia from that era including material relating to Burnley F.C.

P1020868P1020870P1020871P1020872P1020873P1020867The  three-day festival also includes musical performances each evening. A mixture of music from the shows by Barrie Sharpley and soprano Caroline Taylor and popular music from 2 Shades of Grey plus friends Caroline Taylor and actor-singer Tony Cummings.

2 Shades performed on the Thursday night with a set of 60s songs starting with Memphis (Chuck Berry) and finishing on the Mersey with a Beatles song interspersed with songs from the Kinks, the Drifters, the Beach Boys, the Everly Brothers, Nancy Sinatra, Joan Baez, Bobby Darin, the Walker Brothers, the Beach Boys, Herman’s Hermits, the Mindbenders, Sam Cooke, Little Eva, and Cliff Richard.

Barrie Sharpley, the singer with 2 Shades, ran a quiz to test the audience’s memory of the 60s. Interestingly some people associated some of the songs with re-makes such as Kylie Monogue singing Locomotion. Good fun.

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Last year was a special 40th Festival event