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London: you’ve changed! (Since early August)

2015 September 4
by Zoe Strimpel
Do these get louder and more mournful when it's cold and gloomy outside?

Do these get louder and more mournful when it’s cold and gloomy outside?

It was sorrowful coming back from America, where it was basically warm or hot, with soft air and a sun that wasn’t ever too far away, even on cloudy days.  As soon as I got back to London, jetlagged and full of plane food, I took the Tube back to Brockley and got into bed. That was pleasant enough. It was less pleasant to look out my window at a changed scene; cold, grey, the sky leaden and heavy with streaks of rain. But the weirdest thing about the pathetic fallacy experience of returning- ie that my mood slumped in accordance with the gloomy weather- was the AURAL effects. So, Brockley appears to be ever more in the flight path for Heathrow, which is superb for me actually because I’m a trainspotter and love to see those giant Airbus A380, albeit usually with the distasteful brand Quatar scrawled across its belly, lumber over my house. Those things go at – SLOWEST 163 k/h – even though they look like they’re crawling at like one mile an hour. Sometimes when I’m walking up Upper Brockley Road and a plane’s dawdling overhead I feel like I’m racing it a bit, and winning. BUT! On this bleak and chill August day I realised that the planes were making a different sound from their hot summers’ day descents. They were mournfully droning; and the streets – chill, dark and inexplicably empty, perhaps in homage to the weather, but clearly lacking homage to that boisterous exciting back-to-school atmosphere of early September – seemed to be full of the drone. No human noise, just depressed and whiny engines. All week I heard it and became mired in pathetic-fallic theorising – were the planes making that noise because I was glum to be away from my ancestral beaches and my long Trollope novel? Or did their drones in some way bounce off the low grey clouds? Was there some correlation between ice-cold Augusts and turbine moans? [Full disclosure: I just googled this and found a thread entitled, ‘Why do jet engines sound different in cold weather?’]

I think it seems very likely that there is.





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