11 February

So finally we come to hearing. What sounds surround you? Do you choose them or are they inflicted upon you? Right now I can hear the gentle rumble of the heater, the chirruping of my daughter’s parrot and the flapping of her wings as she flies around me. There is the sound of the tapping of my keyboard and the solid clunk of my tea cup as it is returned to its saucer.

I used to have the radio on as I worked but recently I have discovered that I prefer to have the radio on when I actually want to listen to it and no longer like it in the background at other times. As our taste in radio programmes might change as we grow older so does our taste in sound.

I have an exercise for you. Turn off anything that is actively making a noise, radio, heater, fan, air conditioning. Close your eyes and listen to the outside world. What can you hear outside your building. If you are in a city, see if you can identify the difference between the sound of a car and a lorry, between a lorry and a bus. Can you hear people? Can you hear their voices? If you are in the countryside can you hear birds? Do you know what they are? There are not many birds around in the UK at this time of year but there are enough to be heard even if the dawn chorus has yet to be established. Is there any traffic? Perhaps there is a gate banging in the wind.

Now let the outside world go and concentrate on your room. What can you hear in here? Does the building creak? Is there somebody moving around somewhere else in the building? Do the pipes rattle when the water is turned on? Is there a dog snoring in the next room?

These sounds are part of your life, you hear them every day. Yet how often have you taken notice of them? Sometimes we are too busy filling our ears with noise to appreciate that silence has a sound all of its own and it too can be gentle and relaxing whether you live in the middle of a big city or alone at the top of a mountain.