I am trying to wean myself off reading non fiction, but somehow I keep drifting back to it. I have just started reading ‘The Train in the Night’ by music journalist Nick Coleman, an account of him going deaf in one ear, and how he copes with it.
Despite the subject matter, it is a very thoughtful and at times uplifting story of not just deafness, but also our senses, and life. And I love this from his description of growing up in The fens, the low lying area round Cambridge:
“In 1971, the year in which I turned eleven, the fens of East Anglia were an empty place. They still are relatively empty, but only relatively. They were really empty then. then, you could lie in bed and hear for miles. The emptiness could be felt almost as sound can be heard. It had a presence, a slightly obtrusive one. There was a level crossing half a mile down the road from our house and whenever a small fen train went over it, it was possible to hear the motion of every nut, bolt and bearing in its trundling over bogeys.There have never been whippoorwills in East Anglia but you did get trains – little ones going to Peterborough – and they made the silence come alive. Otherwise, the quiet was sprung only by the tooting of wood pigeons against the rustle of chestnut trees, and by church bells, cockerels and the whine, skitter and thwack of teenagers crashing their Hondas into ditches.”
When I grow up I want to be able to write like this man.