|Badger Bill, c.1979|
Generally I cope with the usual coughs and colds pretty well, but this new sense was frankly baffling. The world smothered, a cloudy view with muffled sounds. Without headphones on, I'd tuned in to a muted frequency. All that remained was the occasional whoosh like the sound of air travelling fast or the tide going back and forth languidly. A shell was being permanently held to my ear, “I can hear the sea! I can hear the sea!” I exclaimed to anybody excitedly. Marooned on British Isles with imaginary sounds and inaudible people.
Pedestrians and vehicles were miming acts I had to decipher. Flapping gums and mumbled tones. Wheels spinning, exhausts sputtering. Closely observing all activity with nothing to alert me. Noise drowned out by the wind and sea. Whoosh, whoosh. I'm trapped in an sound-proofed construction. Interferences bouncing off the glass before they can reach me. The dull wham, wham as people knock into its walls and disoriented, walk in the opposite direction. The world I knew had been temporarily turned upside down and vigorously shaken.
Back at home, this silence was blissful. A flat calm. No hum from the refrigerator. I couldn't hear the kettle click, the microwave ping, or the phone ring. I allowed vast pillows of cloud to engulf me. Let the auto-pilot take control so I could recover.
I awake still blanketed by fog and venture again into the blankness. Wait, I stand on the pavement outside my flat, something is changing. The whooshing is getting faster, louder. Mayday! Mayday! The auto-pilot must have pushed the eject button. I'm being catapulted back to earth without a parachute to slow me. Terrifying surround sound ricochets off my eardrums. “Arrgghhh make it stop! Make it stop!” With my hands instinctively clapped over my ears I run back inside and bolt the door behind me. A huge sigh escapes from my lips, aaahhh muffled bliss once more.