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Reeling In The Ears

  • Stuart Bailie
  • 5 Mar 08, 04:00 PM

Stuart Bailie.jpgBad hearing tends to go with the rock and roll territory. In the old days, it was almost a badge of honour, a sign that you’d been through the wars, battling with feedback, crash cymbals and house-shaking PA speakers.

A friend of mine was in a Camden basement bar when her eardrum spontaneously ruptured, spraying the place with blood. Steve Lamacq called his autobiography ‘Going Deaf For A Living’ while Pete Townsend, who once wrote about a deaf, dumb and blind kid, is severely challenged in the hearing department. Are you surprised?

plug.jpgThis morning, I was talking on Good Morning Ulster, explaining that a quarter century of music journalism has left me with permanent ringing in my ears. Tinnitus isn’t a great laugh, especially at night when you’d rather have a gentle sleep, or when tiredness and stress turn the tones into a howl-around chorus.

There’s a new campaign called Don’t Lose The Music, telling people about how to avoid such conditions. They’re aiming to find cool designers who can make ear plugs look more attractive, and delivering easy hints about prevention. Tinnitus, you see, has no cure.

Alternately, you can put your head in the bass bins and hot-wire your MP3 player to hit 11 on the volume scale. The royal prerogative of youth is to ignore the future, to damn the reasonable advice, to crash the car. But consider the fact that your precious music needs a couple of sensitive instruments to channel the tunes. If you abuse ’em, you lose ’em. Really.

Stu Bailie presents The Late show on Radio Ulster, every Friday from 10pm until midnight. See his playlist here.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 05:21 PM on 06 Mar 2008,
  • Chris F wrote:


I too suffer Stu, with about 35% of the hearing I should have ( due to some odd diseases years ago..)

I know all about the internal bells and whistles... And I agree, it can be bloody awful!

Nice to see you support this, do you think they could put someone to work on those bloody NHS hearing aids, regardless of how cool your taste in music is its hard to carry off cool with an unsightly bit of pink plastic tacked onto the side of your noggin, hence I lip read and complain that venues these days play their music too low...


hi Stuart, I'm glad higher profile people are sounding this call (no pun) as I blogged this myself a couple of weeks ago after a particularly loud wedding reception. what staggered me when I looked round the HSE website was how little legislative protection there is for members of the public but plenty for those working in the environments. it's all very well to demonise personal player systems, but at least there you only have yourself to blame. it's where the regulations fall apart which worries me, and I did some 'envelope' calcs which suggested that your average cavalier amateur DJ doing the wedding circuit could be responsible for damaging the hearing of up to 3-4000 punters a year! I work as an audio engineer and have been routinely wearing the plugs shown in your blog from a company called Elacin. they are really discrete, very comfy, cost only about a tenner, and are almost entirely neutral, so you never feel disconnected from the environment as you can with the old 'foamies'. I always wear them to gigs and enjoy the music much more as I can actually appreciate the job the mix engineer is doing rather than my ears distorting as they struggle to protect themselves!

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