Age-related problems: losing some of that fine conversation that buzzes around me in a public place. Perhaps it runs in the family. My Great Grand-mother was famously deaf. She used an ear-trumpet to listen in to interesting bits of conversation and would reputedly swivel it away from boors half-way through their patter. Much to their dismay, no doubt. I don't suppose she needed it to listen to the wireless, or indeed the Old Boy playing the piano. People around her learned to shout. As it should be.
I wondered if I wasn't also heading in that direction. I had been thumped on the ear by Barbara's brother a few years back, which broke my eardrum. So, I went to the hospital for a hearing test. They put you in a booth and tell you to wave when you can hear some shrieks over the ear-phones. After a while, the techie came in. When do we start, I asked. Start? he shouted, we're finished: you're deaf.
So how about that? I either needed a girlfriend who had previously worked as an air hostess in a Zeppelin, or a hearing aid.
Hearing aids come in all sizes and conditions, and despite our excellent Spanish health system, they are not dished out free to deaf punters. The techie had a cousin who sells them in the oddly-named town of Huercal Overa - starting at 1000 euros and going up to better than 4000, and that's just for one ear. Madre Mía. Do they still make ear-trumpets?
I was complaining about this robbery over a beer, when someone said, loudly, why not try the Chinese shop? Well, I'll be boondaggled, they sell 'em for nine euros, with an extra battery thrown in.
So, now I can hear everything: the buzz of a mosquito, the early morning bellow of the new cockerel that someone kindly gave me last week and lives in a cage outside my bedroom window, and pretty much all that lies between.
Indeed, I'm getting rather fed up with my hearing aid, and am thinking of taking it back to the shop. I'll buy some glasses there instead and take up using sign language.