Cough. Sniff. Wheeze.

The spouse has taken up residence in the spare room. A coughing fit which woke me on wednesday morning turned out not to be my lungs expelling the last of the toasted cheese I had choked on the previous lunchtime, as I thought, but the onset of a cold. The spouse hates coughing noises and sneezing noises and loud nose blowing noises unless he is making them himself, so he decided to ensure a nice quiet night by retreating to the spare room with his earplugs.

Well, it was all right for him. As I turned the hall lights out, I heard some distant snoring to indicate that he was already happily asleep. Half an hour later, as I tossed and turned feverishly in my bed of pain, the snoring had ceased. To my annoyance, it had been replaced by, what is to me, the ‘fingernails scraping on a blackboard’ of the bodily noises world: The Nasal Whistle.

In a cruel irony, my ears which are so insensitive to distant speech were picking up the spouse’s distant 10kHz nasal whistle as if he were right next to me, with his wheezing nostril in a megaphone. Typical.

Since sleep was not going to be forthcoming, I amused myself with a bit of speculation about how this sensitivity to irritating high pitched noises at the expense of speech had evolved. Perhaps this strange cochlear quirk had some biological advantage at one time? I imagined a documentary on the Discovery Channel about an ancient civilisation ruled by a tribe of cookie biters. They communicated over long distances when hunting by using a unique nasal whistling language, but were wiped out when they all caught a cold and had to resort to traditional speech.

“Watch out old chap, there’s a lion over there!”

“Eh? A what over where?”

“A LION. OVER THERE.”

“What?”

“Oh, never mind, it doesn’t matter.”

“ROARRR. Crunch.”

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