Recently I found myself woken by the raucous sounds of a hospital ward; the gentle squeak of trolleys and the mummer of subdued conversations deafened me. My short-lived, bat-like sense of hearing was not a dream for analysis, but the successful outcome of a grommet insertion in my ear. A simultaneous nasal procedure also led to the strengthening of my sense of taste and of smell, which has at times had seemed all but gone.
Now almost all aromas are welcome, often giving me a feeling best described as quiet enjoyment. I now understand that the previously irritating, ever-present smell of coffee in offices and shops is a triumphant attempt to render the Hallelujah Chorus though the medium of fragrance. It was a moment of delight and relief when my nose suddenly worked. In no other circumstances could the aroma of a simmering chicken stock compel me to dance a private jig. Off-key aromas quicken my senses too: the incomplete smells of food preparation from a cafe kitchen, or even the faint reek of a greengrocer’s. I find I am a creature of my senses, or maybe I just had to be reminded.
Rediscovering subtle flavours made me purr like a spoilt cat. Breakfast of a simple soft-boiled egg (this perfectly cooked by Prof. Edible) became a completely absorbing experience. Surely it is impossible to fabricate something so perfect? I had a nascent eco-system poised on the end of my spoon; the primordial briny yolk together with the untainted white mantle promising a new world.
The vividness of these newly sharpened senses is already fading. If it had continued I would have always been constantly lost in revelry and awe, getting nothing done. Even so I do not think I can ever take my everyday senses completely for granted again; you can still catch me bending over, sniffing at a pot of basil a little longer than is strictly necessary.
Egg via Neil Evans’ smallholding stall (Thurs-Sat) Swansea Market.