I was on BBC TV! And for a good reason, too...
Preface: a while back, I wrote a case study about damage to my own hearing after prolonged exposure to loud noise over a period of years (musician, drummer, listen to loud music etc... I'm sure you're the same or similar, or you know someone like me).
Anyway, on Monday, I was contacted by someone from the RNID, who said they were launching a new campaign called "Practice Safe Decks" (groan) to raise awareness of hearing protection - and would I like to take part in a BBC Breakfast article to be featured on Wednesday morning? So, although I consider myself to have a great face for radio, of course I said 'definitely!' (Wouldn't you?) I also drafted in my coursemate Ciarán Jordan (it made for better TV, and he was interviewed too. Brucey Bonus.)
...And here I am, on BBC News! They managed to get the most unflattering angle of me possible (says Christopher, to shouts of 'who ate all the pies, who ate all the pies'), and a lot of what I said in the interview was cut for reasons of time - but it was still great fun, and I'm glad I jumped at the opportunity to do it. It was all very quick too - agreed on Monday, filmed on Tuesday, broadcast on Wednesday! How's that for JIT production. (boom boom!)
I fully support the RNID's Don't Lose The Music campaign - I've already donated a fair amount to charity and I always wear earplugs. The ones I wear out at the moment are filtering earplugs, so they don't just muffle the sound, they filter out the most harmful, high-range frequencies which do the most damage to your sensitive inner ear (cochlea, timpanic membrane etc). They fit right inside your ear canal - like a glove - and are really quite comfortable once you get used to the slightly odd sensation of something in your ear canal. They're Elacin ER20s (made by Etymotic, a reknowned maker of ear protection for professional musicians and industrial workers alike. Even better, they only cost £8.50 from London-based I Never Knew I Needed One, about £10 including postage. Considering music shops like Chemical Records or Juno are trying to flog these for £15 plus postage, it's a no-brainer.
Let me put it this way - you are a fool to not own a pair of these filter-based earplugs if you go to any kind of gig where there's prolonged levels of loud music. You wouldn't stand next to a pneumatic drill in the street without your fingers in your ears, so why do it at a gig? The added benefit of filter-based earplugs is that you can still hear the full range of sound, but you can also hear it more clearly - it's like turning the volume down a few of notches, not just stuffing your fingers in your ears (which is the general effect you get if you use cheaper, foam-based earplugs). Foam earplugs are good temporary substitutes, but you're only kidding yourself if you think £10 is too much to spend on earplugs.
I'm about to spend £160 on custom-moulded earplugs that are made from impressions of your ear canals (and use the same filter technology) to achieve the best (and most discreet) level of hearing protection. If you rely on your ears to work, or to just survive the day at work by listening to music, get them a treat for their birthday: buy some good earplugs.