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14 February 2006

I heard the birds

This is all about me, my body, my ears and eyes. Specifically about my ears. At the age of merely 49, I had cataract operations on both eyes. As a result, my vision went from cloudy and problematic to excitingly clear and the best visual acuity without glasses I have had since my teenage years. A few weeks ago, at the still relatively young age of 53, I had hearing aids fitted for both ears. This too has been subtly life-changing. But, whereas I was extremely excited the first time I went out with my eye-patch 24 hours after the first cataract operation to see the dramatic differences in colour, light and texture, and I still, four years later, love to gaze at the night sky where I can more or less make out, I would guess, 30 to 40 percent of the stars, I did not immediately get that sense of wonder and awe from the improvement to my hearing. I could tell the difference; I could hear a lot of creaks and rustles, the Muzak at the dreary little shopping centre in Hinckley, cars overtaking me and the nearby conversation of boring strangers, all of which had been silent to me before. But last evening, temporarily back on the trains while my ride-share guy has a brief holiday, I heard the dusk chorus (if that's even a term) of birds in the little strip of wilderness alongside Leicester train station. The birds had always been there, but I had never heard them over the buzz of the busy train station. At last, I have the wonder of near-perfect hearing.

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