Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

24 August 2009

Hard of Hearing? Buy a New Telly

‘What are “genital au pairs”?’ I asked my wife. (I, having lived a sheltered existence, thought something exciting might be passing me by).


‘“Genital au pairs”, they just said it on the telly.’

‘Jennifer Lopez.’ She interpreted, shaking her head in disbelief.

That’s when I realized that my hearing was packing up and that if I wasn’t careful I might innocently get into big trouble.

So I called in at my doctor’s rooms and he got one of his practice nurses to do a hearing test.

‘What do you reckon?’

‘Were you an artilleryman by any chance?’

She explained that I had the hearing of a 70-ish year-old whose ear drums might have been modified by the percussion of gunfire. Interesting: I told her that I’d never actually fired a howitzer but I had been in a Royal Air Force rifle team when I was about nineteen.

She then informed me that if my hearing had been impaired while serving in the British armed forces I might qualify for assistance with the cost of hearing aids. Subsequent investigations via an audiologist led me to fill in form WPA0001 to submit to a remote department of UK War Pensions in which I described a time over fifty years ago…

‘… I served in the Royal Air Force from 1951 to 1953 (Service number 2513297). I did quite a lot of .303 Lee Enfield rifle and bren gun shooting… Specifically, I shot for a Technical Training Command rifle team… Every time I fired a rifle I experienced not only short term deafness (improving over about three or four hours) caused by explosions but also pain; the percussion of explosion caused actual pain in my ears. We were neither issued with protective ear muffs nor allowed to stuff wadding or cotton wool into our ears…’

To give them their due, without much delay they shouted me a hearing test from a top Auckland audiologist who, completing the examination, confirmed that I was suffering typical delayed gunfire symptoms. ‘However, I have to tell you that your hearing is not bad enough for the Brits to pay for hearing aids.’ And he went on: ‘What’s more, as you age and as your hearing deteriorates further you will still not qualify because the goal-posts move inexorably beyond any extension of charity to your case.’

Well, of course. Don’t they always?

He then asked me if I wanted to have hearing aids.

I’d already given this some thought. Asking around I had gained the impression that those of my friends who use them often find them more nuisance than they’re worth; especially when among groups, at a party, or in the ambient babble of a restaurant. I had been warned, too, that they could cost big bucks - indeed, up to several thousand dollars. Thus, even before I learned that any UK-funded instruments were a forlorn hope, I had decided to take an alternative course of action.

I bought a new TV set. This big silver monster, at a price well below half of a pair of hearing aids, has a big flat screen, brilliant pictures, and above all the facility to manipulate its sound tone. Where my old telly had had no tone controls, the new one not only has settings for speech, music, movies and multi-media but also a graphic equalizer that allows me to minimize the duller and sharpen the upper frequencies. I can hear it - perfectly

‘What a good idea.’ the audiologist enthused when I told him about it. ‘Money well spent, I’d say. So, no hearing aids then?’

‘Not yet.’ (I didn’t tell him that a mate of mine who’s quite a bit older than I has agreed to leave his to me in his will.)

Meanwhile, with my shiny new TV I’ve now got a real handle on Jennifer Lopez: she not only looks good but sounds right, too - and that goes for her name. ‘Genital au-pairs’, I must have been mad.



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By Don Donovan

About Me

My photo

Don Donovan: Biography

I was born on 20 January 1933, nine days before Hitler came to power in Germany, I grew up in south London. Although evacuated during the phoney war and the quieter times I lived in and out of air raid shelters during the blitz and experienced both V1 and V2 attacks on London. Left grammar school in 1948 aged 15 substantially undereducated. I wanted to go to art school but because of family ‘poverty’ joined a commercial art studio in the West End. I was, thereafter, variously a messenger boy, commercial artist and typographer. I was in the Royal Air Force from 1951 to 1953 when the only useful thing I did was to take part in King George VI’s funeral parade.

In 1955 I married Patricia O’Donnell, a RADA graduate, at that time playing opposite Derek Nimmo, they were juvenile leads in a touring repertory company. He went on to great success because he had a funny voice.

We came to New Zealand in 1960 where I worked in advertising. At length I became managing director of one of the companies of whose holding company (the largest domestic advertising complex in New Zealand) I was also a proprietor and shareholder. I left the industry in 1990 when my company was bought out by American interests. My timing was brilliant, at that point my first book had been published and the next was on its way.

We have two daughters and four grand-children.

Now, apart from writing, I function as a self-educated grumpy old man.

Books & Writings

‘New Zealand Odyssey’, with Euan Sarginson, Heinemann-Reed, 1989.

‘One Man’s Heart Attack’, New House, 1990. (A special edition of this book was purchased by CIBA-Geigy for distribution to NZ doctors).

‘Open 7 Days’, Random Century, October 1991.

‘The Good Old Kiwi Pub’ by Saint Publishing in 1995 followed by:
‘New Zealand House & Cottage’ in 1997. (Saint Publishing have also published calendars for the years 1994 to 2004 using my watercolour illustrations).

‘The Wastings’, my first novel was published in July 1999 by Hazard Press. Although an international subject it had very limited distribution, only in New Zealand, and the rights have reverted to me. (Colin Dexter read 'The Wastings' and wrote to me: 'I enjoyed and admired "The Wastings"... a beautifully written work... a splendid debut in crime fiction... More please!'.)

Also the texts of photographic books:
‘Colourful New Zealand’
‘New Zealand in Colour’
‘Top of the South’
‘Above Auckland’
‘Hauraki Gulf Destinations’
‘Bay of Plenty’
and a compilation of photographs and quotations titled ‘Anzac Memories’ 2004 all published by New Holland.

My written and illustrated book, ‘Country Churches of New Zealand’ was published in October 2002 by New Holland, who also published ‘Rural New Zealand’ 2004 (photographs and text), and a series of four humorous books of photographs and quotations in 2004 and 2005 titled ‘Woolly Wisdom’, ‘Chewing the Cud’, ‘Fowl Play’, and ‘Pig Tales’. My most recent book was published in August 2006 by New Holland, titled ‘Political Animals’.

Over the years I have written for NZ Herald, Heritage Magazine, Next Magazine and various local and overseas travel and general interest media.