Sound bites

13 Aug 2023

The last few months have been dominated by sound. I have spent a lot time with two women with various hearing problems (one did not admit it). I found I was very thoughtless, giving instructions when walking away. Not making sure the one with hearing aids could talk person to person, because a babble of voices is hopeless.

Then at dusk I have a homebound commuter filled sky. Dozens of pigeons whirr by, do not know what destination, not the church. The opposite direction is a cacophony, raucous rooks heading for a huge tree, which bends under their weight – they have huge quarrels before settling. Earlier I had swifts screaming round the building. At the moment just left with a late fledgling sparrow, whinging every ten minutes for more food.

And, of course, getting used to my new human companions. Lunch time there is a buzz of conversation – people still have energy to talk, and the French love their lunch. A lot of grumbling over-rides general noise. A man sings, tonelessly – he should be in a care home, but there is no room.

 Heavy wooden chairs make a noise on the wooden floors – intakes of breath. Food is too hot, too cold, too little, too much. The sauce is good, the dessert tasteless. I can now distinguish people by their voices, even more their laughs. There is one chicken in the garden, two womens’ voices have the same cackle. One woman has a most odd high-pitched voice and she talks very loudly. She always sounds as though she is about to cry. If it were a man, his voice would not have broken. A man in our UK village suffered that, a nurseryman, we meanly called him ‘Sqeaky Mr B’. This lady could have suffered from a thyroid operation which went wrong. I thought it was ‘run of the mill’ but apparently it can be delicate with a big risk of damaging the vocal chords. I have, of course, to listen very intently – all in French and all these different tones and decibels. 

I am doing  very well in dictation, but a mean trick the other day. Gladioli in French are ‘Glaieuls’ with two dots over the ‘i’ to show it is pronounced. I’ve always called it by the German ‘umlaut’ in French it is a ‘tilda’. The lady who does the dictation is 90, was a schoolmistress. She reads us bits of the French classics, and I keep quiet about my lack of ‘culture’ Rimbaud and Co leave me cold, and I have a shelf full of the Russian classics, never touched. 

Best sound of the day? Door bell rings, cheerful waitress with my breakfast, ‘Votre p’tit dej Madame;. Fire up computer, read Moodscope, instant reaction or mull over it while swimming. Nearly supper time, worst, stony silence except the inveterate grumblers,. ‘La pleureuse’ (the weeping one) is at my table. Her low grumble about everything can be heard throughout the room. Ah well, cheers, writing this with a G & T beside me. 

The Gardener

A Moodscope member

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