The official quest to pinpoint Hong Kong’s most infuriating noise is drawing to a close. The votes are in, the crowdsourcing practically complete, and the Environmental Protection Department has taken on extra staff to tot up the decibels. Here’s the shortlist. First up, that founder member of the Hong Kong dystopia orchestra’s percussion section, the Pile Driver – umpteen tons of solid steel strutting its stuff seemingly inches away from your office desk or bedroom window. Next – a more recent innovation: White Noise, aka the quavering eldritch shriek gushing out of someone else’s smartphone loudspeaker because plugging in earbuds would be too much of an effort and everyone lives in a bubble nowadays anyway. Number three – Children “expressing themselves” in restaurants is not exactly Hong Kong specific. But this is definitely a field in which the 852 excels, not least for the nigh complete insouciance of the little horrors’ parents. Assuming the cinemas are open, then two examples of the noise generating tribe will be taking their seats immediately behind you some minutes after the main feature started. No 1 is the Plot Whisperer, of relatively slight mental acuity but with sufficient brain cells to string together a sentence you can’t help but understand. No 2, the Snack Rustler (though this pair is by no means mutually exclusive), delves into a sack of pungent plastic-wrapped titbits at key moments in the dialogue. And so to the beach, where in warmer times anyone thinking about a peaceful day at the seaside can forget it thanks to the rambling, patronising, inconsequential announcements broadcast at far too regular intervals. Take a bow, Leisure and Cultural Disservices Department. Gambling sites are likely to be tipping a very distinct contestant to take first place. Generally self-effacing, soberly dressed and humble of mien they can spend long minutes patiently stalking their victims before producing the tool of their exasperating pastime. The noise they emanate could never be described as loud, but it penetrates like the blip of an echo sounder. Yep, there’s no way on Earth you can close your ears to the snip, snip – pause – snip of the Demon Nail Cutter. So it looks like this particular contest is all over bar the shouting – unless of course the Biro Tooth Tapper sneaks in to pull a fast one in the final furlong. Grit your teeth, close your eyes and clench your fists in frustration NOW.