Day 26 of the 26 Day Big Shut Up:  the noise of silence.

It’s an odd start to our Mighty UnMute Day; usually you’d drive into town and keep muted until you park up, walk to the entry doors which someone opens for you and you hold back from thanking them and you get micro-glimpse of what it is to silence yourself. Rude Man! Someone is probably thinking right now.

You walk over to Gray’s café where you interact by pointing, gesticulating, a thumbs up when the server remembers your usual order and semi-normal service is resumed. Cappuccino in hand, it’s up to the office, trying to avoid any awkward conversations which could involve more complex signage, gesticulations and strangers getting the wrong idea.

In the office, everyone’s heads are down, getting on with it.  People look away, concentrating on screens, post, spreadsheets. Laptops are tapping away, unaware of the need to be mute.  Rubbish shifts, furniture scrapes.  The inanimate speak ever loudly, immune to a call for silence.

You try anything to fill the silence: a conversation attempted in charade like gestures soon evaporates when you can’t figure out the charade symbols for hol-i-day.  I resort to digging the headphones out of my laptop bag and the noisy silence is replaced with something more melodic, urgent, meaningful. 

At lunch, you weigh up how difficult it is going to be to be able order something to eat something which is beyond a coke and a burger.  Your first choice is to go straight to an automated MacDonalds pay station which asks you no questions, you tell it no lies and in theory you can type in anything you want to.  Unless there’s no spare ordering station, so it’s back out into the street weighing up the options again.  You opt for safety and familiarity; they know you back at Grays and they’ll be sympathetic to the campaign, so you can point at a menu, make the finger sign for tea and get on with it.  

Back to the office and some others have gone off to negotiate lunch, the photocopier is in full swooshing swing and there’s an odd laugh or rustle of a packet of crisps.  A lever arch file snapped shut.

Listen more often to things than to beings springs to mind, and whilst I did have a vague idea about listening to the furniture at some point today, I opted for safety first this morning with the headphones so hadn’t encountered the challenge of listening to the tables and chairs.  Although my back has, and it’s not especially happy with the chairs it is being asked to communicate with.

Do things speak more vociferously now we’re in the office and have the time to listen to them with more intent?  I’m looking at a bookcase which was part of the Without Walls event of a couple of weeks ago and wonder what that’s saying right now?

It’s got a quirky little lamp and shade on top of it; a top row of books, a couple of picture frames and looks like it’s been covered with off cuts of newspapers or wrapping paper.  4 of the 6 shelves are empty. They’ve been unpacked and its waiting to go? Or have just arrived and waiting to be filled up?

I’m reminded of the story on the radio this morning about the parable of looking at 11 roses through a garden gate: the premise is that that wherever you stand, you’ll never see them all at once and you’ll never get the whole picture or story.

So much for listening to things more often than to beings on this occasion.  My muteness just encourages the furniture to provide even more complex, noisier messaging than listening to the people who occasionally sit in those chairs.

The Mighty Creatives staff team took part in the Mighty (UN)Mute, a day-long vow of silence, on the 5th October. You can check out the campaign here and donate your hard-earned disposable income here.

Or if neither of these is possible (and heaven knows we’re all in tough financial times right now), then anything you can do to share and shout about the campaign would be equally welcome and appreciated.

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