Location: Village Green, Woodcote, Oxfordshire, UK
Date: 8th May 2020
Time: 09:00 – 09:15
Weather: Sunny with light cloud and very light wind.
Average Sound Level: 40.1dBSPL (LAeq)
Walking to the green, past windows of brightly coloured-in VE Day bunting, the silence of the bank holiday lockdown is palpable. The passing whine of cars is separated by silences. Even the low hum of traffic from the A4074 seems all but absent. A home-delivery van is one of only five commercial vehicles passing the green throughout the fifteen minutes of logging sound levels. The cackle of a crow from the play park to my right, pierces the sound-bed of cooing pigeons, hidden from sight, but audibly present on all sides. Much maligned, today I find the pigeon’s soft call comfortingly familiar. Staying with the sound, I notice the lengthened, strained quality of the second note of their monotone call and its similarity with that of the cuckoo. To my left, a lady walking her border collie, coughs, a sound more distracting in these times. Ahead, three young boys pass a football between them, while discussing what player they will be when they reach the solitary goal in the adjacent field. Like the wavering screech of red kites, the modulating drone of aircraft on approach to Heathrow are ubiquitous here in Woodcote. This makes the tracing of a solitary aeroplane across the sky, seem both intrusive and proper. As the rumble of the aircraft fades, drifting out of focus, I attend to the trees, whispering faintly and revealing the shifting rustle of birds in the branches above.
With fifteen minutes passed, I collect the tripod and swap the meter for microphones. Sitting, recording, watching the slow movement of bodies at a distance, my thoughts turn to loss. The absence present in the soundscape prompts me to rifle through recent memories; VE Day bunting, newsworthy obituaries, furloughed workers and missing human connections. There is a vaguely-sensed impression that there is connection in these memories and some inarticulate resolution.