Put a sock in it – natural selection and the gobshites.

Graph 1aIt does not require a degree in anthropology to know that people are becoming louder (see graph). You can be in aisle 4 of Tesco’s perusing prophylactics, yet still be able to hear every howl of the crone in aisle 23 shrieking at her offspring over the biscuits.

“Stop it, don’t touch that! Put it down!” etc.

Only last week Mrs Harker and I were out walking our dog at the park and couldn’t hear ourselves speak over the wailing of the young woman 50 feet away having a conversation at top volume with her friend.

What is the explanation? Are these people auditioning for a role as a town cryer? Has all the inbreeding left them hearing impaired? Is their conversation so illuminating that they simply have to share it with everybody in a 3 mile radius?

Our panel of expert has been investigating this phenomenon and has constructed a hypothesis which we shall call;


Back in the day, when humans lived in caves and shared the forest with all manner of vicious beasties, we were at the whit and whim of mother nature and natural selection. Those who inherited characteristics conducive to survival lived to breed, and those whose genetic mutations rendered them less adaptable faded into history; but that was many years ago. Now the rules have been rewritten. Frailty, disease, infirmity of mind and body and extreme misfortune can all be overcome; and Darwin’s laws are being rescinded.

Harking back, let us envision the following scenario. You are a human (hard to imagine, but please persevere) living wild in the forest wilderness. A cave is your home, the forest floor your toilet, you wear clothing fashioned from squirrel pelts and oak leaves and you hunt small mammals with stealth and cunning. But you are not the top of the food chain. There are wolves, bears and sasquatch who prowl and hunt and feast.

Imagine that you are creeping through the forest at dusk; you have scented a hare and have tracked it to a clearing. As you creep towards it, you hear the sound of heavy footfall rapidly approaching from your left, and you dive into the bushes to hide. You lay still and silent, knowing that even the gentlest sound may draw attention to you.

It is as you feared; a brown bear has stalked into the clearing with murder in mind. It may be armed with a firearm, blade, or even a stout cudgel. You lay quivering in the undergrowth as the savage beast snuffles, sniffs and scrabbles at the earth, trying to fix on your scent. You fear that all is lost when suddenly, from the next clearing comes the sound of a young woman screeching at her children. They screech back until the whole forest is awash with their calls. The bear rears up with a roar and charges off to lay waste to the perpetrators. They are rent asunder and you live to breed another day; hurrah!

As the generations pass, those who have learned to remain quiet at times of stress live to breed and those who squawk and shout are picked off. Those that do survive pass their characteristics on, producing loud, squalling children that attract wolves, unicorns, carnivorous otters and other mythical creatures. These noisy humans produce more children than their quiet counterparts; they have to, as a high proportion of their young are taken by predators.

But as human society developed, we overcame our hunters and became the top predator, fearing only ourselves. The noisy ones continued to breed prolifically, but their young survived, and soon their numbers rose and rose and rose and now they fill the supermarkets, chip shops, McDonalds’ and bingo halls with their shrieks and cackles.


Shouting is not a pointless exercise; it is used to signal danger or send out a distress call. We are conditioned to respond to it. If I hear somebody shout, “look out for that kangaroo!” I stop what I am doing and scan my vicinity for marsupials. This aids survival.

Children can be trained to understand this at an early age. If a child is running towards a road, their parent’s alarmed shout should draw them up sharp. However the converse applies. Loud people condition their children to become accustomed to the shout. They shout at their children constantly, morning, noon and night. they shout when the child is bad, they shout when it is good, they shout when its food is ready, they shout at all and sundry and the child soon learns that all  conversation is conducted thusly, so that when somebody shouts, “look out for that kangaroo,” they heed no warning and Darwin rubs his hands in glee.

You will have seen these children. They run riot in the streets, shops, parks etc while mum screeches at them, thereby reinforcing the conditioning and behaviour.  This continues throughout their whole life, and they continue to shriek at one another, have copious children whom they raise to shout constantly, and they enjoy a lifetime of bellowing at one another until they finally become old and deaf, and then EVERYONE ELSE has to shout at them too.

My solution; bring back T Rex and then maybe we can all get a bit of peace and quiet.

About Dr Rupert Harker

I am the author of the Urban-Smith mysteries. Book 2, The Werewolf of Worttenham Wood is due out in June.
This entry was posted in An Englishman in cyberspace and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Put a sock in it – natural selection and the gobshites.

  1. sanseilife says:

    We have this phenomenon in Colorado too. There is no escaping it. I am glad there is an evolutionary explanation for these loud people, and I thought it was just rudeness!


  2. kcg1974 says:

    Interesting, fun read with a great take on all the commotion in our lives. I’m glad I didn’t yell or shout at my children (too often) and I won’t ever at my grandchildren (unless they’re in danger).


  3. speedyrabbit says:

    Hahahaha Thank you you have made my day!I have a nosey neighbour next door to me and when her children visit bringing their kids along all you hear is kyra stop it !thomas stop it!if you don’t spot it you’ll be going home blah blah blah its gotten so that I have to have the radio on in the shed playing loud just to drown it out and to stop them listening to our conversations as they all love to hide behind the fence to hear what’s being said by us too.I wish we could round up people like that and put them on an island with a T-Rex and leave the rest of us in peace,xx Rachel Speedy’s Mum


  4. 😄😄 my solution noise cancelling headphones and an iPod


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s