About twice every year, there’ll be a newspaper story about how Heathrow or some major metropolitan airport wants to add more runways. This story will be immediately followed by complaints from nearby residents’ group organisations about noise pollution. My typical thought used to be, “Get over it. We need more transport capacity, and I’m sure the noise is nothing double-glazing can’t fix.”

And so I kept believing this blithely until I got here in San Diego, and now live in a flat that’s directly below the flight path of F-18 Hornets from the nearby Marine base. These jetfighters will periodically scream over the canyon, creating a low rumble that cannot be avoided by any measures whatsoever and worst of all, last night they prevented me from hearing the punchline of a sitcom joke that looked as if it might be good. I’m already mildly annoyed about it, and that’s with perhaps at most half a dozen flyovers every evening. I can only imagine that it’s far worse for people living near Heathrow.

Of course, there’s not much to be done about it now for current residents. Hopefully in a few decades time this will be less of an issue due to current research in developing supersonic jets that will not produce sonic booms.