For ages now my wife has told me I’m deaf.  Up until now I found it easy to discount this feedback because I have noticed that all the men I know of my age complain they can’t hear what their respective wives are saying yet have no trouble hearing everyone else.  Odd that.

Actually I have worked out precisely when I can’t hear my wife.

1       When I am in the kitchen and she is in the sitting room and I am standing by the kettle as it comes to the boil.

2       Ditto when I am standing next to our over enthusiastic extractor fan.

3       When my wife is ahead of me on a crowded escalator (ahead of me because I have been chivalrous – I know, no need to be nowadays, even mildly insulting etc, etc – and stepped aside to allowed her onto the moving escalator first. If she speaks to me during our ascent or descent facing forwards, i.e. away from me, I can’t hear what she is saying.

4       When I am swimming underwater.

Now, I have always thought it entirely understandable not to be able to hear my wife in these situations.  Surely anyone would struggle, young or old.  But the other day I submitted myself to a hearing test at Boots.  I had to enter a chamber that cut me off from the outside world and press/hold down a button every time I heard a shrill – and I must admit, absurdly quiet – sound.  Of course, I emerged from the tardis-like chamber convinced I had beaten the system, fully expecting the audiologist to express astonishment that a man of my age had retained the hearing of a youngster, convinced that he’d admonish my wife for causing needless distress and advising her not to speak to me, or anyone else come to that, when I am in a different room and/or standing beside a kettle coming to the boil and/or standing beside an extractor fan and/or standing on a crowded escalator and/or underwater.

Instead, incredibly, he showed me a graph that purported to show me how much my hearing had declined in both right and left ears  He had the audacity to invite me back to a longer, more stringent, hearing test scheduled to last one whole hour.  My wife, to be fair, didn’t actually say, ‘I told you so’.

In preparation for my second hearing test, I have just completed a form quizzing me about how difficult I find hearing in a variety of different situations.  For example, in bars and restaurants, in group conversations, in cars, on the telephone, and so on.  Nowhere does it come close to asking me what really matters. I have therefore redesigned the form and it now asks pertinent questions such as:

Do you find it more difficult to hear your wife than anyone else?  Answer: Yes.

Why do you think this might be?  Answer: (this is the polite version) because she talks to me more often than anyone else and, since we have been married for 50 years, I have heard most of it before.  Anyway, she speaks to me when I’m standing by boiling kettles, by extractor fans, on moving escalators etc.  Other people rarely, if ever, speak to me in such situations and it therefore follows that I can hear them better than I can hear my wife.

When (if) you can’t hear people clearly, do you think this is your fault or theirs?  Answer:  Silly question (even a leading question).  As I’ve explained, I can hear everyone else perfectly well and when I can’t hear my wife it is entirely understandable and, dare I say it, her fault.

Do you think you need a hearing aid?  Answer: Damn silly question!  Now your motives in showing me that absurd graph are exposed, now I know why you advertise FREE hearing tests. This is nothing more than a thinly disguised plot to sell me an expensive hearing aid.

Bah humbug.



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