Thursday, 2 April 2009

Ear, Hear!

The double entendre of the sound of these two words is not lost upon me, but was not the reason I chose them as a title. When we are lucky enough to be born with normal hearing, we so take it for granted, that we don't give much thought to the way our ears are on non-stop duty.

Yesterday, all I intended to do in Havant was post a letter, buy more stamps and try to find a chemist that stocked the kind of razor that holds the ever more scarce, double sided blades. And no, I haven't started shaving my chin! I wanted to shave some particularly bobbly, poly cotton garments; in particular an almost new, knit fabric nightie, that after a couple of wearings had begun to develop those tiny, annoying blobs created by friction with every twist and turn amongst the bedclothes. Truly, they are almost too small for the eyes to notice, but the fingers tell a different story, and the slight roughness they create makes me cringe.
Using one of these razors, I've discovered, brings the fabric back to pristine smoothness in next to no time. I thought shopping for this article might take a long time, as disposable razors are the norm, but to my surprise, the chemist had one lone, left-over razor, reduced to 61p - a bargain!

My shopping was done in a flash. It was too nice to simply head back home- blue sky, sunny, light breeze - and I decided to literally 'watch the world go by', and I parked myself on one of the wooden seats that stand back to back in a strung out line through the centre of the precinct.

I had the intention of watching, with maybe the possibility of a poem surfacing as a result, but gradually I realised it was listening I was most intrigued by. Most footsteps of the passers by were muffled by latest shoe technology, i.e. soft soles, but once in a while the stomp of a dressy pair of heels punctuated the quieter sounds of casual shoes or trainers.

Many people passed singly, maybe a slight cough or sniff marking their individual silence; others, in companionable duos, held desultory conversations, while some more animated couples nodded and laughed, deep in relating some incident, one to the other.

Every size and shape of pushchair, or buggy as they are called today, rattled or creaked or slipped silently by, depending on age, plus mood of the one pushing. A frowning Mum, with at a handle-holding, second offspring created twice as much noise as that of an obviously new Mum, pushing her tiny offspring in a gleaming white and chrome concoction.

Snippets of disjointed conversations plopped out of the air as people drew level with my bench.

'We'll have to phone up and find out..'

'Never! I don't believe...'

'I've got to get some money out to pay me Mum...'

Behind my seat, a pigeon's deep throated 'Vroo-croo' softly interjected punctuation marks from time to time, while a muted rumble of traffic on the busy road at the end of the precinct added its distant monotone.

Suddenly, the high treble of a very young voice rang back from the walls of the buildings on each side, much clearer than the adult voices in their lower registers.
'Mum.... Mum.................Mum! Where are we going now?' No answer. Mum was far too busy pushing her double-width buggy, alongside her friend who was similarly encumbered. The women nodded and talked to each other, their long hair swinging around their nearly touching shoulders, as they leaned inward, deep in conversation, totally ignoring the question from bored offspring.

Once I'd processed as much information as I thought I'd need from the sauntering public, I started on my homeward journey. At the drop off point outside St Faiths Church, a car had its motor purring; then the metallic opening click, followed by the louder, closing clunk of one of its doors added to my sound picture. A small white van, unloading flowers, chimed in with a sliding side panel being rasped shut, while another car did a staccato toot on it's horn as it turned at the corner ahead.

My own feet make no sound on the uneven pavements as I turn down alongside the church, but there is a snip, snip, snip of shears coming from amongst the old gravestones, as grass edges are trimmed, somewhere out of sight. The closer I get to home, the quieter it becomes, until a motorbike's hurtling roar momentarily shatters the silence. As the air is disturbed by its passing, I become aware that the wind is curling past the curlicues of my ears, and adding its own gentle hushing, only now audible as the town center sounds recede. A lady bangs her spade edge on a concrete surface, one loud, metallic clang; a far off strimmer is like a dentist drill, whining up and down as intensity varies.

Turning the final corner before home, there's my good neighbour vacuuming his car, adding his pennyworth to the morning's symphony of noise, but he silences it as I draw level, and the only sounds remaining are the birds in the trees and our two voices, as we greet each other with a cheery 'Hello!', then wind the morning up with a friendly chat. My ears have had a good workout.


  1. You have such a way of painting with words - this was a wonderfully unique stroll you led us through - and extremely enjoyable. Smile.

  2. You are a good poet because you do listen and observe so well. Likely, I would have been lost in my thoughts and heard nothing.

    BTW my French SIL would tend to pronounce Ear, Hear as Here, Ear. He tends to add an H where one isn't called for in English and drop it when one is. And we English Canadians do like to say our haitches.

  3. Wow! This was an amazing journey through your day. And you're right, I never give my ears the credit they deserve! Jenni

  4. This is so good, Jinksy. We who have good hearing are certainly blessed, and it's a good thing to be reminded of that blessing now and again. Thank you.

  5. What a way with words... you weave this very real image in my head and I feel almost there with you.

    Love Granny

  6. Well, that was fascinating, jinksy - that journey through the sounds of your day. I could see and HEAR every single thing you described. A wonderful aural tour. Amazing.

  7. Shaving a nightie?!!! That's got to be a blogging first! Good idea though, will store under 'what to do if nightie gets itchy'.

    I love the post, mind if I print if off to show my girls how to write a good descriptive essay. You have a wonderful way with words and are so observant. x

  8. While reading this post, I felt like I was there with you!

  9. My, what good ears you have! This was fun and tutorial.

  10. My hearing is very poor Jinksy and has been for some years. Over the years it has worsened largely because I have forgotten how to listen - and can't be bothered any more. So it is good to read of the sounds second-hand on your blog.

  11. My ears no longer work well and what you describe are just memories my expensive hearing aid can't duplicate.In some small way I heard then through you today.

  12. I learned long time ago to give my ears credit for many wonderful things in life. My nephew is deaf and that makes me appreciate the hearing I have just as my blind mother made me appreciate the gift of sight every day.

  13. Lovely, Jinksy! I much admire "the curlicues of my ears". You DO have a way with words, m'dear!

  14. And ours, jinksy - There is so much in life that we just tune out, don't you think, so that to still our inner voices, and just listen to peaceful things and everyday noise can be very rleaxing, I have found, as do you - And portray it sooo well, la jinks. You have such an ear xxx

  15. Listening is one of my favorite things to do. It is amazing what you can hear if you pause for a moment.

  16. Reasons to be cheerful 1, 2, 3 (sounds like the start of a poem before you go any further!) of course I don't mind - print away as much as you like, after all is said and done, why write unless you mean to share?!

  17. P.S. What's wrong with shaving a nightie?! Also works well on sweatshirts, pillowcases, sheets or duvets, if their polycotton content has rubbed up into bobbles...

  18. A lovely piece of life Penny. A joy to Read. - Dave


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