Unselective deafness


I’m looking back into a distant era. Rationing had finished, (but the ration books were still in the draw in the kitchen) the bright golden dawn of the NHS was upon us, and a young teacher had her two children, first a boy and then a little girl.
Yes, that boy was me. And as young mums are with their first child my Mum was doubtless a bit over watchful. Admittedly she had her mum, and my Dad’s mum, and doubtless a great heap of aunts and suchlike for advice, but this probably didn’t really help.
But eventually she came to the conclusion that there was something up with my hearing. So she took me to see the doctor. I remember him even now, not a big man, a Scot with an abrasive manner. From my perspective older and possibly wiser than God, and he examined my ears.
Then he arranged appointments for all sorts of clinics, where we waited in draughty corridors, (or rather my mum did, I read happily, as one advantage of having a teacher for a mother is that you’re literate before you get to school.)
Anyway I have to report that back then I found the tests quite fun. You had to listen to this but press a button if you heard that, and there were headphones and all sorts of stuff to play with.
But eventually, all good things come to an end, the various tests were completed, various reports were doubtless collated and sent on and we were summoned to meet our doctor once more.
Here, in retrospect, I have to pay tribute to the doctor, faced with an educated and strong minded young mum and her first child. He set the case out clearly. My hearing was perfect. My Mum probably expressed surprise, doubt and perhaps even bewilderment.
The doctor let her say her piece and then very gently (and over fifty years later I can still remember his explanation) said. “What you have to remember Mrs Webster, is that all men have an instinctive ability to screen out the female voice. It’s something of a defence mechanism. It’s just that your son has developed it at an unusually young age.”


I suppose I ought to recommend a book to you as well. How about

as a reviewer noted
“This is a delightful collection of gentle rants and witty reminiscences about life in a quiet corner of South Cumbria. Lots of sheep, cattle and collie dogs, but also wisdom, poetic insight, and humour. It was James Herriot who told us that ‘It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet’ but Jim Webster beautifully demonstrates that it usually happened to the farmer too, but far less money changed hands.

I, for one, am hoping that this short collection of blogs finds a wide and generous audience – not least because I’m sure there’s more where this came from. And at 99p you can’t go wrong!”

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12 thoughts on “Unselective deafness

  1. willmacmillanjones August 30, 2013 at 10:52 am Reply

    An early developer, I see Jim!

    You are to be congratulated on your natural talent.

    • jwebster2 August 30, 2013 at 11:03 am Reply

      Having lived in a house with my lady wife, three daughters and my mother it has to be said that my natural gifts were very useful

  2. The Story Reading Ape August 30, 2013 at 10:57 am Reply

    L-O-L That Doctor was Spot On wasn’t he?

    When I heard my Mum calling me, I wouldn’t hear her until the ‘I’ll tan your bare backside unless you drag it back here NOW’ voice called my full name out LOL 🙂

    • jwebster2 August 30, 2013 at 11:04 am Reply

      The wisdom of an earlier age, I wonder if a doctor would say that sort of thing now 🙂

  3. M T McGuire August 30, 2013 at 10:07 pm Reply

    That’s a cracker.

    As for doctors now, I’m not sure but the health visitors we had in Ely certainly would. They did a course of new mum classes which I went along to and I remember the one on weaning.

    “When should you wean your baby?” she asked.
    Like good well versed Mums who’d read the current thinking we all said.
    “At six months.”
    And she said.
    “No. The correct time to wean your baby is when he is ready.”

    In the case of my lad, it was at 4 months but I doubt I’d have had the courage to do that (the advice at the time was 6) without her advice, which was pretty much like that, about all things… “Current thinking says x but….” I’ve applied it to all areas of child raising ever since 😉



    • jwebster2 August 31, 2013 at 6:23 am Reply

      We’ve always got to remember that ‘Current Thinking’ is all it is at times. The ones who worry me are the ‘professionals’ who cannot tell ‘Current Thinking’ from ‘Gospel’

      • M T McGuire August 31, 2013 at 11:35 am

        Yeh, amen to that.

      • jwebster2 August 31, 2013 at 3:10 pm

        What can be fun is to remind them of previous ‘current thinking’ and getting them to lay bets on what the next fad will be 🙂

      • M T McGuire August 31, 2013 at 5:17 pm

        Don’t. There’s not much of life that comes with an instruction book..

      • jwebster2 August 31, 2013 at 5:36 pm

        “Tampering by unauthorised personnel invalidates manufacturers guarantee” 🙂

      • M T McGuire August 31, 2013 at 7:55 pm

        That’s me stuffed then! Phnark.

      • jwebster2 August 31, 2013 at 8:13 pm

        It’s a quote from 2001, it’s a phrase that I made a point of committing to memory.
        Other people remember poetry or soulful and moving passages, me, I remember stuff like that.
        Mind you, I once managed to use a quote from Njal’s Saga. I told someone ‘Ears fit best where they were grown’ 🙂

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