It was as I was staring blankly at the blue sky outside when I heard it. I slowly became aware of a 'hishing' sound and there appeared no good reason for there to be one. Slowly I moved to the back window where I discovered the 'hishing' was a vast quantity of hailstones that were hammering down. Only then did they make an appearance at the front of the house by which time it was too late for those unfortunate to be out and about at the time. The big black cloud had sneaked silently in from the east and deposited the contents without warning. Only the sound made me aware.
At the museum we have been offering this body science exhibition in which people can test their senses, eyes, ears etc and very popular this have proved to be. The only one I really had a go at was the hearing test. This comprises listening to first one ear and then the other turning a dial and increasing the high pitched note while reading the score. My left ear, my best one, scored 7500 which the other scored 12,500, which is near normal for my age. Something is wrong somewhere.
The sound of the hailstones got em thinking about hearing. It was said men working in noisy factories using great steam hammers could hear a pin drop. I am far from sure that is true but what is noticeable is the ability to hear a different noise from one loud noise constantly endured. A mother can do the opposite by ignoring her screaming brat yet hear gossip perfectly well. When you are used to loud noise a strange noise intrudes and stands out no matter how loud the original noise. This may not happen on each occasion but has happened to me, often waking me up at work. As rush hour has passed the world returns to a slower pace and the sounds do also. In between the occasional cars, controlled by far off lights, a gap appears allowing silence for a moment. The last bird sings its song, footsteps pass, a distant dog delights to be rolling in wet grass then the short line of vehicles once more drown out the world.
I used to enjoy working nights at Maida Vale, as long as it remained quiet. The distant sounds of an occasional nurse tending to a patient, footsteps in the corridor above, and the early morning cry as the 'Dawn Chorus' begins the day long before any other. The silence was there to enjoy at least until seven when people poured in or out ready for the new day.
Sometimes I am very glad I still have enough hearing to enjoy life, I would hate to be deaf I would miss so much.