‘Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these broken wings and learn to fly. All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise’. Written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon and sang by Paul McCartney on the Beatles White Album in 1968.
Ever since I was a child I have been dogged with dodgy hearing. It effected my school days and my main career as a designer. At school, sat in my muffled personal bubble, I would fall behind the rest of my class.
At work, I would leave briefing meetings unsure of what the client’s instructions actually were. Then, later in life, when I retrained to be a Driving Instructor, I began to find it hard, virtually impossible, to hear my pupils questions, important questions: "should I stop and let this bus pass?" or simple expressions of fear
On social occasions, I sometimes I couldn't hear a word, would just nod, smile or laugh, at hopefully, the appropriate moments. It is an awful thing, deafness, an affliction that sufferers are in denial about for 15 years before seeking help. But it was time for me to act.
My doctor referred me to Bradford Infirmary, where I would sit, waiting in the reception watching the Jeremy Kyle Show on a wall mounted TV, in shared incredulity, with aged Bangladeshi elders. Initially I was fitted with a hearing aid to tide me over while the consultant tried to find a remedy. I was tested, scanned and prodded. Like my grandson, I had grommets installed, and like my grandson's they fell out, had to be painfully replaced, but in the end the grommets failed.
The consultations petered out and I was left with the hearing aid
I was okay with that, the hearing aid did the job. For the first time in my life I could hear conversations across crowded rooms, eavesdrop on private conversations in restaurants and, importantly, hear my pupils. The drawback, of course, is that, unlike spectacles, a hearing aid is not a fashion item, doesn't enhance a person's image, it is something old people wear. I am old, but in denial.
Then, about eighteen months ago my hearing recovered, a small miracle!
There didn't seem to be any reason but, coincidently, this ‘Lazarus’ hearing moment coincided with attendance at a Keep Fit course at the local leisure centre. I had lost three stones and almost eliminated sugar from my diet. Whatever, I have not used the hearing aid in over a year. I can hear my pupils and have engaged in conversations. But, above all, I now enjoy evening walks in the park, me and my dog Poppy, listening to the blackbirds singing in the twilight.
Somehow, I think, all my life I have been waiting for this moment to arise.
A version of Blackbird performed live by Paul McCartney in 1976