Isle of noises

Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,

Sounds, and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.

Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments

Will hum about mine ears,

The Isle of Thanet is full of noises. As I write, the Salvation Army band are making a joyous noise unto the Lord in the Salvation Hall across the road.

Last night, our garden filled with yelps as dancing girls can-can’d in the Theatre Royal behind us. Before the show, there was a giggle of girls walking to the stage door, wheeled suitcases rumbling behind them on the uneven road. The end of the show was marked by the distinctive sound of counterweights being released as curtains came down

A couple of nights ago, a riot van pulled up to stop the dull thud of techno from a party down the road. Dogs are always barking on our street, people banging on the door across the road and calling out ‘Sumner’. Next door’s buzzer sounds loud in our downstairs bedroom.

The council’s daily, early-morning emptying the dumpster across the road is an unrehearsed, unrhythmic, unsocial, unwanted performance by Stomp. There are voices in the boarded empty print works down the road echoing round the vast spaces where print machinery once rattled. You can still smell the ink.

Our evening walks on the beach are accompanied by show tunes from the Winter Gardens, or dance music from the bar on the seafront, or the buzz of 125cc scooters bouncing from the cliffs by the empty Lido. On warm, light evenings paragliders rip the air above our heads. There is always a rude and noisy chorus gulls. Walk along the harbour arm and waders call to each other as drinkers chatter.

And Dreamland, oh Dreamland. The noisiest place of all. Dreamland is empty, the rude mechanicals packed away and being restored elsewhere, but the rattle, calls, laughter, cries -the familiar noise of fairground rides, sideshows and the Victorian rollercoaster – still reverberate around the crumbling site. The mechanical laughter from Laurie Anderson’s 1952 documentary still rings. You can still hear the Rank lion’s roar if you put your ear to the boarded-up cinema.

The isle is full of noises, but be not afeard. It’s just the sound of a place that’s awake, alive and full of possibility.


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