Proctor : December 2017
55 PROCTOR | December 2017 Growing older Losing my hearing: I blame the music scene The chief advantage of getting old is that it is better than the alternative. Other than that it has few charms, unless you count having permission to find fault with pretty much everything. I have managed to find a few, however: For example, my hearing is becoming quite poor, in the same way that New South Wales’ recent record in State of Origin is quite poor. That may not seem like an advantage, but it comes in handy if you are trapped at a dinner function with people you don’t really care to listen to, such as televangelists, people with strong opinions about “The Bachelorette”, and Justin Bieber (the singer himself, I mean, not people who have strong opinions about him. Although I doubt they have much worth saying either). Since I cannot hear anything being said if there is a lot of background noise, I am spared passionate commentary about why Fred didn’t get a rose despite being such a nice guy and regularly reciting French poetry (although that last piece of information would certainly explain it for me). When I find myself trapped at a dinner table with people who could bore a troop of birdwatchers to death (or worse, the birds themselves), I simply keep a serious look on my face, nod regularly and occasionally say, “fair enough, too” and this gets me through most situations, excluding one occasion when I said “fair enough, too” just after a fellow had, as it turns out, told me his mother had just been charged with credit card fraud. It was ok, though, because he didn’t speak to me the rest of the evening which was just as effective as not being able to hear him. If you are sitting there thinking that, from my astonishingly youthful photo, I am a bit young to be suffering hearing loss, I can say that you are right (and that age appears to be affecting your eyesight). However, when I was younger I suffered work-related hearing damage, in that my work was foolish enough to pay me sufficient money to afford going out to see bands on Friday and Saturday nights. Young kids these days wouldn’t believe it, but back in the day, bands played things called ‘instruments’ which were plugged into other things called ‘amplifiers’. During the day, amplifiers were used to generate sound waves powerful enough to carve train tunnels (at least, the ones used by the bands we used to see were), and at night they were used to assault listeners’ ears with about the same volume as your average 747 achieves during take-off. The bands did this for a very good, technical musical reason: they sucked. Standard operating procedure for any bad band – and trust me, I have been in some of the worst – is to make up for lack of ability with volume. The advantage to this is that venue management can’t get close enough to tell you to stop (or unplug your equipment) without risking having their heads explode like the people who heard God’s voice in the movie “Dogma” (no, I won’t explain except to note that in a sad development for Christians everywhere, Alanis Morissette is God in that movie). This means that you can finish your set and insist on being paid; everyone is a winner except the audience, but by then their ears are ringing too badly to be any trouble. The bands sucked because back then Brisbane had what was always described as a ‘thriving local music scene’, probably because calling it a ‘thriving group of talentless people who somehow managed to afford musical instruments’ doesn’t bring the tourists in. This meant that anyone could not only form a band but actually perform live, regardless of whether they sounded pretty much like the noise you would hear if a semi-trailer driver was careening down a hill and accidentally threw the truck into reverse instead of fifth. This meant that my friends and I saw many bands who, under other circumstances, might not have seen the light of day nor indeed been let out without adult supervision. Sometimes this had a unifying effect on an audience – I recall one band, named “Earth Reggae” (in retrospect the name should have been a red flag) who were so bad that the entire audience, no matter what religion, race, colour, creed or football team they followed, agreed that they were the worst band any of us had ever seen. Debate did rage as to whether they were actually a band or just a group of car thieves who happened to steal a van full of musical instruments. Ironically, my hearing was working perfectly the night we saw them, and the lead singer’s fake Jamaican accent (he was a skinny white guy who probably had a day job at his dad’s bank) is something I have never been able to shake. The point is that my failing hearing often allows me to appear as if I am involved in a conversation which I am actually studiously avoiding, and I am sure people my age and older have done the same to me, which is fair enough too. In closing, I want to note that this year I got my 25-year membership pin from the Society, something I thought would not happen because when I started work here I found out that I could not stay a member, and just three years shy of a pin. I had a whinge to just about everybody about that, but got nowhere until I told president Christine Smyth, who then requested Council pass a resolution recognising service with the Society as counting towards your pin; it meant a number of other people who would have missed out were also able to collect their pin. This sort of thing is typical of Christine’s member- focused, collegial leadership style and that sort of concern for members and staff puts a spring in your step on the way to work! It has been a genuine pleasure working with you, president – many thanks! Suburban cowboy by Shane Budden © Shane Budden 2017. Shane Budden is a Queensland Law Society ethics solicitor.