My hearing journey started over half a century ago, in The Cavern Club in Liverpool. I would sneak down there in my school dinner breaks, pulling a black polo neck sweater over my uniform.
Standing right next to booming speakers was not a great idea, so when I noticed much later some hearing loss in my left ear, I put it down to youthful excess.
Hearing caused me no grief for many years. Like most people, as I turned 50, I soon needed reading glasses, and now we have a pair in every room of the house including the bathroom; there’s nothing more infuriating than needing a pair, and they’re downstairs.
As I turned 65 my husband would often get exasperated as I ignored him, and suggested I get my ears tested, but in truth I rather enjoyed being able to take no notice of anything I didn’t want to engage with. It even became a secret joke: if I was seated at a dinner next to the club bore, I made sure he was on my deaf side.
Then I’d smile and nod sweetly, but with precious little idea what he was saying. It didn’t seem to matter. You can tell a lot from people’s expressions, and I reckon many club bores are a bit deaf too.
In early 2017 came a dilemma. I was booked as a guest speaker on a prestigious cruise ship, a job I’ve done with my husband for many years. Giving talks would pose no difficulty, but I like taking questions, and even with roving mics it was getting harder to grasp what questioners were on about. Hearing aids, if I needed them, were the obvious answer.
My preference was for an independent practitioner who could advise me on all the appliances available. The test was a surprise – far more thorough than expected, with a lot of personal time given in complete privacy.