have two great fears – one of them is going blind, closely followed by going deaf. Obviously for a conductor the second option isn’t very good, how could you direct an orchestra when you can’t hear them? I had a scare recently, I was finding it hard to hear what players were saying from the back of the orchestra. It was a bit like “maestro … is it F sharp in … (inaudible) … or … (inaudible)?” I had to ask them to repeat the question.

Guy Noble 

This is partly due to the fact that musicians don’t like to project their voices in rehearsals. They seem to think that you can mumble 30 feet away and the conductor will hear everything, across all the other extraneous noises of rehearsal. But I was sufficiently concerned to go to the doctor. Fortunately he found that both were blocked with wax to the tune of about 90 percent, and after a few days of drops to loosen the build-up, syringed out enough to make about three household candles. I felt like Shrek. Truly disgusting.

Once my ears were clean I...