My short trip to Cornwall was notable for all the usual things - variable weather, good food, late nights, lazy mornings but in addition twice being attacked by animals was added to the list.
The first completely unprovoked assault was being stung by a wasp while walking the South Coast Way from Helford Passage to Rosemullion Head. Wasp stings are always surprisingly in the ferocity. It zapped me on my left forearm and the resultant swelling made me look like a lopsided Popeye. I will survive. The wasp did not.
The second was altogether a more exotic affair. In a vain effort to shift some of the Cornish excesses I took my short, fat body for a run around the lanes. Why is almost every road uphill and the occasional downhill does nothing to compensate for the near death experience of gaining height? The lanes are also ridiculously narrow and every passing car forced me into a hedgerow-entanglement with stinging nettles and thorny briars. Relaxing run - I think not. Things were about to get worse. I rounded a bend and ahead was a 300m straight stretch of lane, of reasonable width and with a slight downhill incline. Perfect, I can see cars coming, the slope will partially offset my appalling lack of fitness and I was on the homeward leg. To top off this relatively benign stint a buzzard swooped low over the field to my right. I was as happy as I can get while in the midst of the purgatory of a run. The buzzard swooped again, this time even closer and with a screeching wail - all very entertaining and quite an impressive bird seen from such close range. Another swoop before alighting on the telegraph pole just ahead of me. As I ran below it maintained a cacophony of screeches that were definitely bordering on the aggressive.
I stumbled past watching the bird until it disappeared over my shoulder. Seconds later its talons parted my hair as it dived from its pole and launched its attack. Now before anyone starts to think how sweet, think again, think five foot wingspan and talons like grappling hooks. I have had some bad hair styles, some would argue that I still do but a centre parting from a buzzard was an entirely new experience. I was actually quite relived that its talons did go through my hair as had it become entangled I would have been jogging the Cornish lanes wearing a buzzard fascinator, thereby setting a whole new trend amongst this season's early tourists.
It circled ready to launch the next wave and being armed with nothing more than my iPod, I was defenceless against this continued mobbing. I ran along clapping my hands above my head and shouting in order to dissuade further adjustments to my scalp. I was in this mode and totally distracted when a car drove slowly by. The occupants stared at a short fat man stumbling along the lane applauding the heavens and shouting at the sky. They stared with a mixture of sympathy for a simpleton and relief that they were safely inside their car. I was labelled as something between a village idiot and a raving lunatic. To be fair without the explanatory buzzard on my head I may have looked a little strange but had they understood my predicament then I feel certain that they would have had no issue with my behaviour.
This bizarre experience gave me a brief insight into the world of the hearing impaired as all to often we hear the fear of our customers voiced that they are being classified as "stupid" caused by their inability to comprehend and understand a conversation. They do not justify such a label whereas I probably did. Collectively we must do all that we can to combat this attitude towards the hearing impaired. Clear, slow speech directed towards the person's face is infinitely easier to follow and of course for the vast majority hearing aids can help too. So rather than feel that using a hearing aid could compound the "stupid" label we should celebrate the technology within these tiny devices and the benefit they provide. Hearing aids will never be fashionable or desirable but their ability to enjoin the wearer in conversation is a wonderful outcome.