It is a wet and rainy evening in Manchester. I love the sound of heavy rain hitting the window, it reminds me of the ocean as the waves come in over a shingle beach. It makes me grateful for my home that provides warmth and safe shelter for me and my family, I know there are many around the world that don’t have this basic privilege.
The reason why I grabbed my laptop this evening is to share my thoughts on audiobooks and how they have accompanied my sight loss journey.
I have just finished The Storyteller by Dave Grohl. Dave is the founder and lead singer of the Foo Fighters, one of my favourite bands. I saw them play a couple of times before I lost my sight, first in 2015 at the Old Trafford Cricket ground, then later at Glastonbury in 2018. I’ve been to festivals in the UK and abroad, but Glastonbury tops them all. So I couldn’t believe my luck when the two came together, my all-time band headlining Glastonbury! I was overwhelmed with excitement and nothing was going to stand in my way, well that is what I thought….
Yes you guessed it, or did you? No it wasn’t an eye situation, I’d come down with food poisoning. I COULDN’T BELIEVE IT! I spent the show in the safety of the disabled platform and very close to a porta loo! I was so disappointed that I wasn’t up for being in the thick of the crowd, so at the time I didn’t appreciate the experience. Of course I didn’t know then what life was going to throw at me next. When I reflect on it now, I know deep down that despite the upset tummy that memory has helped me.
I haven’t yet attended a Foo Fighters gig as a blind person, but I will and I am looking forward to it even more after reading Dave’s new book, The Storyteller. Audio books have become a great friend and a comfort over the last three years. I’ve spent most of my life struggling with reading but always refused audiobooks in the past. I thought, ‘why should I listen to a book when I can still read them?’. Reading could be quite straining on my eyes, but I was determined not to give up. I guess I thought it meant something more, that I would be admitting I was different, and I fought tooth and nail against this, making some questionable choices along the way.
I kept this up until I had no choice but to listen to an audiobook. I tell a lie, the choice I had was listen or never read again. The thought of never being submerged in a book was frightening so I dived in and have now listened to countless audiobooks. I’ve read everything from self-help titles to autobiographies, fiction, and research books. My eyes may not work but my brain still does! I don’t have any visual input any more so it is important to me that I nurture my imagination and memory, and audiobooks help me to do this.
To pass the train journey back from Birmingham where I had been to attend the Sight Loss Council, I listened to an episode of Fern Cotton’s podcast, Happy Place. Fern was interviewing Dave Grohl, I was enjoying the episode so much I laughed out loud a few times! Dave was talking about his new book. I thought, ‘he writes such powerful songs he is bound to be an amazing author’. I finished the episode and ordered The Story Teller on audible straight away.
I finished the book within a week, it usually takes me at least a month or two. It was the hearing equivalent of when you have a great book and you can’t put it down, I couldn’t stop listening. That partly could have been the fact that Dave himself read the audio version. 8 hours of his charming voice, plus he threw in some tunes too.
The book really is an insight into his life. Dave shares how his love affair with music begun, he recounts stories from his childhood and describes how he grew up with love, music, family, and friends. He tells us tales of his travels whilst touring with his first band Scream, how he joined Nirvana and that crazy journey as well as how he formed the Foo Fighters. There are so many, ‘laugh out loud’ moments and a couple of tears too. That man has had to date an amazing, rollercoaster journey of life.
There are also a few spiritual insights about the universe and how it worked with him. The thing I took most from the book was that he formed resilience, a strong network and determination for life. A ‘no matter what attitude’, I must get to the gig. These parts resonated with me so much. There have been many moments in my life where I have been faced with walls and thought ‘what now?’. Like Dave I knocked that wall down and continued to the gig we call life. Like him, I surrounded myself with people that support and share in the hard times as well as the good.
Thank you Dave for sharing your life’s stories so openly. It is great to hear I am not alone in the way I approach life. I’d like to help others like your book has helped me so maybe one day I’ll put my life stories and lessons together.
If anyone wants to read the storyteller it is available on Amazon as a paperback, kindle, and audiobook and I am sure in all good book shops. It would make a great Christmas gift for someone you love.
Thank you for reading.