I am going a bit mutton, and it can sometimes lead to amusing results. The thing is, when you start to lose your hearing, you compensate a bit and you don’t really notice the creeping and cumulative effects. So when the screen is out on a till at the supermarket and you can’t read the numbers to tell you what you owe, you have to rely on what the cashier says. The cashier usually mumbles the required amount into their tabard and then you start to panic. You realise how reliant you have become on visual clues for what’s being said: the digital readout and *yikes* lip-reading. Yes, folks, you start to lip-read and you don’t even know it. That’s how clever the brain is…
The other thing you do without realising is you interpret what’s being said, and pass it through a sense and meaning filter. Then you rearrange what you heard, into something approximating a coherent sentence. You do this because quite often what you actually heard was nonsense… Again, like lip-reading, you don’t decide to do this, the brain starts helping you out of its own accord. And it does everything fairly quickly too. Granted, when I first became aware of the sense and meaning filter I would speak as if I were on some kind of time delay, but now, I’m pretty much in real time, mostly.
Which is all a fairly long preamble to the main point, which is this. Today I had a genial conversation with a colleague in silent cafe with no background noise. Therefore, there was less reason for me not to hear – background noise is my nemesis, so much so that I hardly bother to socialise any more because it’s far too much of a cognitive load. Anyway, my mind was a little off centre. This out-of-whackness was amplified because I was hungry – where I work manages to produce the most unappetising sandwiches in East Anglia (but that’s another story).
That’s my excuse for what happened next. My brain was limp, my ears giving their customary poor performance. The combination could be deadly. I was explaining how, as a child, all I longed for (prior to John Travolta in Grease) was a wall full of rosettes won by me and my imaginary horse. Then I explained how I was allergic to horses. I then clarified (and at this point I now realise my colleague’s ears may have started bleeding) that I did have my own horse once. I also felt it necessary to emphasise (goodness knows why) that the horse was a misfit. What I said next need not be shared, but it was about this point in my monologue that my colleague managed to squeeze a few words in edgeways.
“Horses aren’t sheep.”
“No I said, but sheep are very loud, haven’t you heard them?” I would then have, doubtless segued into an unashamed rant about a night I spent in Wales, quite pregnant and wide-awake on account of the sheep’s endless baa ing. Did you know sheep are nocturnal, I would have said.
Except, my colleague, brave and intrepid man that he is, pressed on.
“I said, horses aren’t cheap.”
Now, if my brain filter had been on, I would have realised straight off that my learned friend would have known that horses aren’t sheep, and furthermore that he wouldn’t feel the need to point it out…
Still, we’ve both worked one thing out today: an equine ain’t no ovine and I’ve had the added delight of figuring out that I really shouldn’t talk to people with only my ears flapping in the breeze and the handbrake off my brain.
We then moved on to discuss the children of the Rolling Stones, or was it the Avebury Standing Stones… but that wasn’t to do with being hard of hearing, that was a mere confusion of 1970s schemata.