A Word In Your Ear - September 15, 2011

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I have been known to play my music loud. All right, I have spent the last 30 years attempting to outdo the Level 11 Spinal Tap made famous all those years ago.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those boy racers with bass bins where the back seats of their Novas once were, but I do like playing my tunes deafeningly loud.

At home I am constantly reminded by the Rugrats to “turn it down Daddy, you’re scaring the goldfish”.

It comes a few years after my folks told me “you’ll go deaf lad”.

“Yeah, yeah,” was the know-it-all teenage response. Maybe I didn’t know a thing after all. Take my mate, Disco Billy, for a start.

His name is actually Andy, but rechristened Disco, because of his love of the aforementioned musical cattle markets of old Birkenhead town, and Billy because of a flatulence problem – “Billy No Mates” get it?

Anyhow, he turned 40 last week, so me, Jim the Gent and a few lads got together to welcome him into the Middle Ages. Now I first knew Andy from primary school, but our paths have sadly not crossed in the last few years.

But I fondly remember our formative teenage years tearing around Merseyside on the promise of beer, women and loud techno music.

Two out of three ain’t bad, some oafish rock star once said, and ladies, I do not need to tell you which one we failed at more often than not. His 1980s Opel was known around the Wirral as a virtual club on four wheels, with everything from 160bpm Dutch Gabber, Orbital and even the chart friendly anthem Felix pumping from every grommet under that off-red bonnet. Fast forward 20 years and I walked into my local back home last weekend to be greeted by my old schoolfriends.

They were all lacking hair, clutching pints and not a woman in sight. Something weird then caught my eye. I thought Andy had one of those Bluetooth headsets, until, on closer inspection, it became clear this device was more functional.

“A hearing aid, you’re joking mate,” was my rather stunned response. Poor hearing runs in his family, but Andy admits his years as Disco Billy may have caught up with him. It appears it is now a common complaint of people in their late 30s and early 40s, who may have exacerbated a genetic problem by standing for hours by club speakers or simply have their music blaring in their cars/down their ears from their Walkman (that’s a retro iPod for any readers under 30).

It was a salutary realisation that A) I ain’t getting any younger, and B) this may just be the Big Fella’s way of warning me to find some better music to listen to.

Well, I was warned about all that hairspray on my prized quiff all those years ago, and look what happened to my hair.

With that in mind, anyone got any Adele they can lend me?