Pardon?

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I carry Steve Hawking around in my pocket. He’s really no trouble. He does all sorts of useful cool stuff like takes my calls, does internet searches, stores music files, finds routes and so on.

Trouble is, Steve has a very distinctive voice and it carries quite a long way and he insists on reading everything out to me. This is fine at home or in an office or studio where they have kind of got used to him. But in the lofty halls of Westminster, or the phone free zones of The Groucho Club, theatres etc it’s hard to shut him up.

Then a friend told me you can get earbuds which connect wirelessly to your phone and cut the speaker. That way Steve would talk in my ear, not out in the room. Plus if I got bored listening to a minister I could put on the cricket or listen to the new Josephine Orme record, pull my new tortoiseshell shades from paris down and pretend to be fascinated.

So I went off to Harley Street Hearing.

Four Grand! You’re joking? I’ve seen them for fifty quid on Amazon.

But these will fix your hearing as well. My hearing? What’s the problem there?

The problem is you’re an old guy so you’ve lost some top end. Ok don’t get personal, there’s nothing wrong with my top end that a few tablets can’t correct …

Top frequencies in your hearing. The rest is well above average but no one your age has all the top end left. These buds will restore it all … you’ll have the hearing of a 16 year old.

Really? You don’t have anything that will make the rest of me like a 16 year old by any chance? Now I’ll pay four grand – and the rest – for that.

Sorry, no can do…but try these out. They fit inside so you don’t even notice.

So I did.

The first couple of weeks were very very weird. Everyone sounded like they were eating crisps while talking and I had to keep asking people to talk more quietly.

Then I got used to them and took them to an orchestral show at The Barbican. Amazing. Really amazing.

Talk about crystal clear. So I left them in. I went back to my early productions … damn I was good!

The later ones sounded great too but I reckon I automatically know how to adjust tracks … but this was really just like the old days.

What’s the point of this story I hear you ask crisply and clearly. Well, a woman came to see me last week. She is doing a PHD and interviewing adolescents with bad vision. Interesting.

Their biggest beef is that they can’t learn to drive. I hear them [sorry about the continuous allusions to hearing, it’s subconscious now].

That was me. Age 16 I wanted to drive, get a motorbike, hit the open road.

So the point is I can’t understand why people who can drive don’t bother. I can’t understand why people who can go to amazing places for the amazing landscape don’t bother. I can’t understand why people don’t realise how jealous I might be of simple pleasures like watching people on the beach in Rio!!

If you’ve got it use it …..

But the really crucial point of all this is … if you don’t use the high frequency part of your hearing, it gets worse and worse. The Canadians [not enough to fill their time otherwise] did a twenty year study of people with and without hearing devices. The ones without tested far far worse at the end of the study. Use it or lose it.

If you think about it, it makes sense. If you didn’t walk for twenty years, then tried to stand up … you get the picture.

That was the sealer for me.

So for the past two and a half years I’ve had the hearing of a teenager whenever I want. It’s great apart from the fact I’ve started to sulk, answer in monotones and lock myself in my room for hours playing horrible music.

Well, you have to take the rough with the smooth.

As for Steve? He still resides in my pocket. He still talks to me but now it’s in my head, not in the room. Those arent’ the only voices in my head of course. I do have a persistent guy – I call him Ed – who tells me I have to go kill a man in America to save us all – but I’m not crazy so I’m not listening.

Ah, re the driving lessons. Can I say, quietly, to anyone over fifty with two arms two legs and two good eyes. If you don’t go get your hearing checked and get ear buds to preserve them if they are starting to show signs of wear and tear, you’re either nuts, skint or oh so vain. Get over it dude.

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