London's loudest jobs
The city's a damned noisy place for all of us, but for some poor souls working in the capital, the decibels shoot off the scale. Time Out sounds out four Londoners with spectacularly high-volume jobs - and asks them where they go to escape the racket.
Greg Page, 44aircraft technician
‘I’ve worked at Heathrow for 28 years and handle long-haul flights. I meet aircraft on the tarmac that have come in from wherever and give them a daily check, deal with any incoming snags and then the departing aircraft. It involves walking around the outside, making sure the aircraft hasn’t hit anything, that there aren’t any dents, checking the wheels, brakes, engine oils, then any interior defects. For a basic daily check, you work in pairs and are given three hours, but in that time you have to deal with anything that crops up and it can get very stressful. It’s satisfying when it’s all done on time and you get the planes back out. Every day is different.
‘There’s a constant background noise of taxiing aircraft, plus the plane’s air-conditioning units, which are usually on, and catering lorries, refuelling lorries. When the wind’s blowing the wrong way, it really does my head in. When Concorde was around, it was even noisier. You can’t go out on to the tarmac without your ear defenders. In the last couple of weeks, it’s been really sunny, but Heathrow’s a great big slab of concrete, so it’s hot, sticky and oppressive.
‘But now that the weather’s better, I spend every other day at the Princes Ski Club, a couple of miles south of Heathrow. It’s a huge lake, and I find a body of water therapeutic. I get there, sit down for a while, have a coffee and a chinwag, and watch the skiing. It’s quite a social club, and with all of the trees and water, it’s pleasant – just what I need after a shift. I suppose it’s like being a member of a golf club. There’s the physical side of it, but really, it’s everything else that goes with it. Like what? Oh, the surroundings, the bar… and occasionally there’s a few pretty women about!’
Emma Hilson, teacher, in Richmond Park
Emma Hilson, 25prep-school teacher‘I’m about to complete my first year as a qualified teacher at an all-boys school. I deliberately chose a boys school – I love the sense of competition between them. My day at the school begins at 7.30am when I take in the homework and I usually have parents coming in to see me. Right from the start the boys will inevitably have questions about their lessons, assembly and just about everything else.
‘Assembly is good fun, and most of the boys in my class are in the school choir, so they can certainly belt out a tune when the organ gets going. Settling them down for the first lesson can take a while, sometimes you realise that you are raising your voice constantly, so you always need to have water by your side to save your throat. It’s very easy to lose your voice as a teacher – trying to be louder than 20 boys is a losing battle. Lunch and break times are still work times for us. Boys being boys, the outdoor games involve storming around at high speed and shouting.
‘My teaching practices were both in difficult schools in south-east London. During this time, I saw parents arrested, banned from school for assaulting the headteacher – and they beat children in front of me. Equally, the children abused the teachers. I took a knife off one seven-year-old.
‘I discovered Richmond Park last year and it’s where I go to relax. I was amazed at the size of the place and frankly startled by the free-roaming deer. It’s so easy to forget that you’re in London, but there’s one spot along the walking trail where the hedges have been cleared away to give a direct view to St Paul’s Cathedral. I think that having access to a few green spaces is essential in London, and considering how crowded these places are in the sunshine, it seems that plenty of people agree.’
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