Dear Mother Maple: can’t they shut up?

Mother Maple
Dear Mother Maple: I’m not a musician. But I love music, and I want people who go to music festivals to shut the hell up when they’re watching someone play. How can I tell these ignoramuses to zip it without getting punched out?

Pre-emptively annoyed

Dear Annoyed:

My, you are a feisty one. But I understand why you feel that way, dear. If I’m listening to someone (like that Jonathan Byrd who was in the Woodshed this week), I want to listen. I blame the television. Once the idiot box got popular, people forgot two things: one, there’s a difference between a screen and reality, and two, you’re not always in your own living room. And those cellular telephones just made it worse. Now the kids are texting and recording and youtubeing and twittering — they’re missing the whole point! Or so it seems to me.

But that’s not what you asked, is it? Here are my rules for creating a cone of silence:

  1. If the talker has a leather vest and more than one tattoo, don’t risk it. If you need to know why, rent this.
  2. Excuse yourself, and politely say that you’re trying to listen to the performer, and that they might be missing something special.
  3. If they won’t get off their telephone, then begin to offer advice and contribute to their conversation. After all, they’re holding a conversation in public, so you should be welcome to chime in.
  4. If you’re in a formal venue, and nothing else works, then ask for assistance. If it’s something more like a festival, perhaps discretion is the better part of valour and you should move. Keep in mind, while their rudeness is an annoyance, a screaming match will annoy you — and others — even more.

Do you have a question for Mother Maple? She’d be tickled to help. Just ask, dears! Mother Maple’s home-made advice is also available on The Twitters.


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  1. avatar
    Paul Corby 24 June, 2011 at 16:11

    Last week I told the whole room to show some respect for Megan Bonnell at the Rivoli, in a clear, Grade 4 teacher voice, and said thank-you at the end. It worked. Last year, someone in the same room blustered out a “S.T.F.U.”* while Dan Mangan was singing. It didn’t work.
    *translation available on request.

  2. avatar
    Eric Thom 24 June, 2011 at 16:25

    Great solutions. I have one more. Remember those glass stinkbombs you used to covet through public school? They still work great. Oh sure, everybody has to smell the foul, rotten egg-like aroma but simply point at the person making all the noise. Chances are good, they’ll leave – one way or t’other. If you can sneak one down his shirt and pat him on the back, more power to you.
    Life is not a phone booth.


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