Babbage’s Babble

Charles Babbage, “father of the computer”, seems to have have leant towards the Get Off My Lawn side of the Crazy Old Man Spectrum. Taken from his memoirs, this list of street noises that tick him off is hilarious in its length and precision.

A very brief excerpt:
Instruments of torture permitted by the government to be in daily and nightly use in the streets of London: organs, brass bands, fiddles, harps, harpsichords, hurdy-gurdies, flageolets, drums, bagpipes, accordions, halfpenny whistles, tom-toms, trumpets, the human voice in various forms—shouting out objects for sale, religious canting, psalm singing.

I have very frequently been disturbed by such music after eleven and even after twelve o’clock at night. Upon one occasion a brass band played, with but few and short intermissions, for five hours.

Encouragers of street music: tavern keepers, public houses, gin shops, beer houses, coffee shops, servants, children, visitors from the country, ladies of doubtful virtue, occasionally titled ladies—but these are almost invariably of recent elevation, and deficient in that taste which their sex usually possesses.

The great encouragers of street music belong chiefly to the lower classes of society. Of these, the frequenters of public houses and beer shops patronize the worst and the most noisy kinds of music. Music is kept up for a longer time—and at later hours—before the public house, than under any other circumstances. It not infrequently gives rise to a dance by little ragged urchins, and sometimes by intoxicated men, who occasionally accompany the noise with their own discordant voices.

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