Having recently returned from a two-week holiday with my family, I realised how much I like silence. Don’t get me wrong, the kids brighten up my day, but they also give me earache. So, silence… where can you get it? Every Friday evening in London from September 11 until the end of December… and it does’t cost a thing. Sign me up!
The pilot pop-up initiative, Drop In Silence is a place where there will be no religion or philosophy, just silence. It’s a social experiment to help us get away from the “noise pollution we all face” and provide an “opportunity to calm the mind”.
With an open door policy, here you can escape the stresses of city living and join others who are searching for some shared silence. “Hey what are you up to tonight?” says friend. “Oh, just hitting the West End for some silence,” says me.
Is this for real?! Apparently so… “If it is successful – and the amazing interest it’s already generated seems to indicate that it will be – then the plan is to roll it out in other towns and cities,” a spokesperson told me. It’s all about the four Rs: Relax, Retreat, Recharge and Return. You turn your phones off and re learn how to “enjoy the benefits of a silent mind”. Sounds lovely, but is silence that hard to come by?
Shhh! The Quiet Room
Only today I was visiting the Rickmansworth Aquadrome with my aunt and daughters and I spotted a separate room in the café where they have a ‘Quiet Room’ – no kids allowed whatsoever (see pictures for proof!). Cue children with placards on their backs shouting out ‘Stop child discrimination, stop child discrimination!’ when the backlash begins.
Is it just me or is this a relatively new thing? I don’t remember places having quiet rooms? Okay so there are quiet carriages on trains, but in cafés and restaurants now as well?
I asked my husband and he said that when we recently spent a rainy day at a big play area (i.e. a large warehouse where you lose your kids in a second, which can be a good and a bad thing) he noticed that there was a quiet room for adults only – great news if you are lucky enough to come with a partner or friend who lets you go in there in the first place, that is.
Places where you can find silence:
- The ‘Anechoic Chamber’ at Orfield Laboratories in South Minneapolis: Apparently the longest that anyone has spent in there is just 45 minutes. It is 99.99 per cent sound absorbent and holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s quietest place. Sounds a bit creepy to me – some people even start hallucinating if they stay in there too long. Give me back my noisy kids any day!
- The Place of Quiet at Bluewater – yes, I’ve gone from somewhere in the US to a shopping centre in Kent. Brilliant. But I love the sound of this. Go shopping then recover in this room where you can ‘rest the spirit and retreat for solitude and reflection’ – i.e. repent your sins for having spent so much money on clothes and shoes and delay the moment you have to walk through the door and your other half sees all the bags. Oops.
If you want to go down a more usual route to finding some peace and quiet, you can always try one or more of the following, but be warned, they aren’t always that quiet…
- The library
- Place of worship/quiet rooms at work
- Your bedroom – if your other half doesn’t snore…
- Your house when the kids are at nursery/school – lovely. Miss them of course…
And on a personal note – times I have been silent:
- The whole journey back from Dorset to Surrey when I had a huge argument with my husband about something relatively non important and refused to talk to him. He said it was the best journey of his life!
- In between contractions when my daughters were born – I was basically in the zone – until I hit transition. Who knew you could make that noise anyway?!
- Arriving back from holiday last week after two weeks away with our gorgeous, but slightly bonkers, children. A whole evening in front of the TV not talking. Absolute bliss!