FOR A few days over the last few weeks I have not been the only member of the Hextol family with aural issues.

Number two son came on the phone the other day to bellow “Fatha, I’ve gone completely deef!”

But while my hardness of hearing is down to old age and possibly playing records a shade too loudly in my youth, his appeared to be due to a build up of wax in his aural passages. I could hear his wife and children roaring at him in the background and suggested he got his ears syringed at the local surgery.

He stood the world of fuzzy noises and exasperated harrumphs from the rest of the household as long as he could, but finally decided to do the job himself, with the benefit of a little instruction from the internet.

So, armed with a bowl of warm, salty water and a syringe, which was supposed to be used for administering Calpol, he started scooshing out his tubes with gusto.

And before long, great gobbets of cerumen started emerging from his ears like little brown icebergs, accompanied by a triumphant howl of “I can hear a spider breaking wind in the next room!”

His seven year old daughter Elise watched the exercise with mesmeric fascination, and afterwards told me: “It was absolutely horrible Granda; it looked as though bits of his brain were coming out! I hope he doesn’t use the same syringe to give me Calpol the next time I’m poorly!”

Hopefully, my boy will retain his aural faculties for many years to come, for being hard of hearing is no laughing matter.

I have been wearing hearing aids for some years now, but few people realise that wearing the devices does not give you back the hearing you enjoyed as a youngster.

As the audiologist told me: “We cannot restore your lost hearing; all we can do is make the most of what bit you have left.” But Mrs Hextol still fails to appreciate that I am unable to pick up every pearl of wisdom which drops from her lips when I am two rooms away, possibly listening to the radio.

She will ask: “Have the batteries gone in those things again, because I have been talking away to you for the past five minutes. I think you need to go and get them changed for something more powerful.”

Watching the television is another tricky business, especially when she has gone to bed and I am watching a recording of Match of the Day or some other sporting endeavour.

The internal house telephone will ring – she’s probably been shouting since the opening credits lit up the screen – and will say with icy irony: “Do you think you should turn the sound up a bit, because they can’t quite hear it down at the Rose and Crown.”

Wearing hearing aids is a complicated business for a cack-handed saoul like me, and it takes me some time to work out which plugs into which ear. There’s a blue dot on the receiver for the left ear, and a red one for the right, but on more than one occasion, I have contrived to put both in the same ear at the same time, which takes a lot of doing.

The batteries last about a fortnight, and when they are running down, the hearing aid plays a jolly little descending tune, over and over again, just in case you didn’t hear it the first time.

The little round batteries are quite tricky to fit, and there’s nothing to indicate which way up they go, so it’s very much a case of trial and error. They are so small, shiny and slippery they occasionally shoot out of my grasp and roll away to who knows where.

Often, I replace a battery and still cannot hear anything, but I am never sure whether the battery has been inserted correctly, or the little tube which connects device to lughole is blocked by a miniscule blob of wax.

The only way to clear it is by using a little NHS-issued piece of blue wire, about the diameter of a human hair, to poke out any offending detritus, but it is so bendy, it is almost impossible to hit the hole. My lip reading is coming on a treat though.