The first Wednesday of each month at noon sharp, all the cities in my country flaunt their combat readiness by running a civil defence siren test. I consider it a socialist anachronism, and I like a good throwback from the present (would-be) brave new world in the past good (bad) old times. I harbour suspicions about the purpose as well as the execution of the test, these however do not lessen my perverse enjoyment of it.
The most recent test of sirens occurred when I was waiting for my commute bus and watching with delight a new larger-than-life billboard of a nude (towel-wearing) sculpted man stuck on the side of the station building, advertising something which escaped me (but I’m buying it). First comes the warning mantra (“Test of sirens. Test of sirens. Etc. Etc.”), repeated in a flat voice for so long that one could get easily hypnotised. Then come the sirens. With a gradually increasing loudness.
I love the shrill siren sound. I imagine it reminds me of my childhood, when these tests must have been more frequent and more serious. Also accompanied by gas mask drills, which I regularly failed. Curiously, some fellow people (insofar as people are my fellows) appeared to find the noise disturbing. One young girl gave the impression that the sound was piercing her body and drilling with gusto into her head, as she was twisting her face and shielding her ears with her hands.
I’m siren resistant. So seemed to be everyone of my age and older, when I took a closer look at others’ reactions. Rather than about the noise, I’m concerned about the utility of the siren test, considering that it runs regularly at a publicly known and advertised time. If I were a Martian invading this pathetic piece of land, I’d definitely pick the time of the siren test so that no one would notice. For your benefit, I produced a recording of the test. I demand that you watch it until its bitter end because it took me at least an hour to convert and cut the sound. Here you go.