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!”