One of the shit things about turning 40 is that you start falling apart. Shit just gets harder. Like getting up from the sofa, tying your shoelaces, or running without looking like Christopher Biggins as your top half starts going faster than your legs. (I’m sure the extra two stone I’ve put on over the past ten years doesn’t help with any of these.)
Now, being ten years into this gradual slide towards complete incapacity, I do accept that this is my life now – deterioration. I have become used to the regular cost of ever-stronger prescription glasses, the need to always wear shoes with nice comfy insoles, and the fact I take joy from seeing a toilet close by. (The shoes aren’t actually an issue for me to be fair as I squeezed my fashionable years in between the ages of 17½ and 21 before I gave up and succumbed to Marks and Spencer.)
However, the one big issue about getting old that does make me worry is my hearing. Oh, and my memory.
The memory is just buffoonery really. Recently I was doing some washing and making a coffee at the same time, then woke up the next morning to find the fabric conditioner in the fridge. I also often walk into the next room as if I’m on a life-long mission to do something, only to forget what it was by the time I get there, wandering back to whence I came like a wounded animal. Another area – one I have never excelled in, to be fair – is peoples names, which seem to exit my head approximately 3-milliseconds after someone’s introduced themselves to me these days.
On the flip side, I can remember the lyrics to most Level 42 songs, as well as Wordy’s rendition of “I am An Apostrophe” from Look & Read, a school programme we had to watch on one of those giant tellies on wheels at junior school in the seventies. So every cloud, eh!
These actions in themselves don’t really concern me though, unless I mention them to my mum, who, without fail, always replies… “Oh, that’s dementia kicking in, just like nanny. That’s how it starts; it’s only a matter of time”. Wow, thanks for that.
The hearing, however, confuses me a lot. Most of the time it seems fine, and I certainly don’t need to learn sign language just yet. But when I go to a coffee shop, with its stark walls, wooden furniture and open ceilings that fashionably show all the air ducts and cables, I feel like I’m Superman’s half-brother as I get bombarded with noise.
I can hear the person at the other end of the shop and people placing orders. I can easily respond “none of your business” when the Barista annoyingly asks for my fucking name to stick on a cup as if we’ve been friends for ages. I just can’t hear the person right in front of me when I sit down for a chat.
It’s like the old days of being in a nightclub. Loads of noise from the DJ and people shouting at each other, but you can’t have a conversation with the person right next to you. (Although I suspect the ladies of Basingstoke in the early nineties were probably just choosing to ignore me.)
Coffee shops are touted as that place between work and home, almost like an extension of your own space. I can’t speak for everyone of course, but having just had a coffee at the Starbucks in the Village Hotel, I can’t remember living with some twat who talks like an airhorn, telling his bruv all about his amazing workout in the gym and the new wheels on his bloody BMW.
The sooner I get a little deafer so I can wear a hearing aid I can switch off, the better.