Up Front 04/14

Phoning somebody overseas the other day I found myself having to raise my voice. Not because I was gripped by the need to shout at someone who spoke a foreign language, but because they had a radio blaring in the background and couldn’t find their glasses to turn it down. To compensate, the lady asked me to speak up, in fact she said “You’ll have to shout”. So I did. We had a brief conversation that to anyone nearby must have sounded quite heated. Soon her husband came on the line and I continued to speak as loudly as I could bear, causing him to ask me why I was shouting. As I began to explain, he was distracted by his wife telling him why we had been shouting, whilst at the same time their dog began to bark at some disturbance outside, so he heard neither me nor his wife. Apparently he had come in and turned down the radio so couldn’t understand why I had raised my voice. By now the whole exchange had taken on a somewhat surreal nature, but to make it even more ridiculous, just then his hearing-aid packed up, and an ear-piercing, high-pitched electronic shriek came down the line and gave me such a shock that I banged my knee on the desk, which led me to howl a couple of expletives inadvertently into the phone. He of course hung up muttering something about how rude I was—I’m sure I’d have done the same. But I felt like I was in some kind of slapstick comedy sketch. How could a simple thing such as a telephone call go so wrong? As I hobbled about the room I couldn’t help laughing. The whole situation had been caused by ageing. Our eyes get old and without our glasses we can’t see to turn down the radio. Our hearing degenerates and we need hearing-aids which bring their own raft of problems, and our weakened bones feel pain at even the smallest of knocks. Thankfully technology came to the rescue and an emailed apology and explanation resolved what might have been a long-term misunderstanding. What a lark. Now, where did I put my keys?  FB