What a quirky coincidence!

Just as the hearing  in my left ear goes on the blink, people queue up to talk to me exclusively on that side and then reduce wake-up calls to confidential whispers.

I mention this mild affliction not just to underline my continuing popularity as a Norfolk receiver of unconsidered trifles, but also to serve as a contrite apology to all those who might have collected mixed messages recently.

My mother always told me “no” should mean “no” and “yes” should mean “yes”. I have tried to live up to that homely advice although its impact faded somewhat during my ill-starred career as a club cricketer.

A number of Caister colleagues  lost the will to live while I was batting at the other end. Heavy smoking, short legs and stud-free boots rendered me less than reliable between the wickets.

A call for a run could descend into a prolonged cause for careful negotiation or a distinctly one-sided suicide pact.

On one heart-rending occasion my partner, seemingly on the way to a deserved century, clipped a pitched-up delivery towards the buttercup patch near the long-on boundary and yelled “three!” He kept his side of the bargain. I surrendered after one and a puffing bit and the innings ended with me in an undignified heap in the middle of the track and him tortured by the ton that got away.

The most generous suggestion to follow that notorious escapade was for a revival in the pub afterwards of the “yes-no interlude” as featured in the 1950s television show Take Your Pick.. I had to win. Contestants had to avoid saying either word for a minute or  the gong would sound to seal their fate. How we chortled when they fell into  the old trap: “”Do you have any brothers or sisters?”

“I have no brothers or sisters.” BONG!

Well, we had to make our own entertainment in those days before the glories of red buttons, high definition and other must-have marvels demanding a degree in electronics.

Where was I? Oh, yes, hoping I’ve given reasonable response to folk who will insist on having a quiet word in my left ear. Thank goodness my disco-haunting days are done and  dusted.

I  blush even now on recalling an incident in an Ibiza nightclub when Whiter Shade  of Pale was top of the charts. My one concession to raving it up in the1960s when I had some hair, energy and money, set back my romantic career at least 10 years..

Bopping and shuffling in designer dungarees and cheesecloth shirt slashed to the waist seemed to be working its magic as a young lady with half a beehive hairstyle suddenly materialised at my animated side.

I smiled my coolest smile and wondered if I had enough pesetas left to buy the rum and Cokes she clearly craved and deserved. My gyrations eased to a frenzy as she moved closer with a bunch of sweet nothings for my ears only. “You lead me on the floor” I thought she purred as music matched the melody of her bewitching local accent.

I took her by the arm for a swift introduction to the Fred Astaire of Norfolk.

“No, No!” she cried, thrusting her hands into a deep pocket. “You leave your key in the door!”

She worked in the hotel over the road  where I was staying and had dropped in to report my misdemeanour.

I turned a redder shade of scarlet as Procul Harum lured a fresh bunch of holiday dreamers into action.

I resisted any temptation to skip the light fandango or turn cartwheels ‘cross the floor and retired hurt for an early night.

Of course, a little bit of diplomatic deafness can go a long way.

I perfected that art while appearing as Count de Moret in Rackheath Players’ production of The Noble Spaniard in the 1970s.

My aristocratic mind went blank in mid-sentence. A tasteful pirouette edged me towards the stage-side prompt. He proffered the next line. It didn’t ring a bell. I bought a few seconds by pretending not to hear, leaning over and uttering in a wildly exaggerated French accent: “Parr – don?”

The audience chuckled and applauded. They seemed convinced this interlude flowed naturally from the script. I bowed, winked at the prompt and recovered my place in dramatic history.

A decade or so later, Dick Condon, the Irish showman who turned Norwich Theatre Royal into one of the most successful in Europe, offered me a “never-to-be-repeated opportunity” to make my professional stage debut as a Norfolk Compo in the pantomime Mother Goose, starring formidable Kathy Staff.

She was well known as cantankerous Nora Batty in the television comedy Last of he Summer Wine, complete with curlers, pinny and broomstick.

It was my job to lead her a merry dance with choice comments in a broad local accent.

I fared slightly better with Mother Goose than the Ibiza nightclub temptress.