Two places to my left, P was conducting an animated conversation about immigration with M, two places to my right. P is M's father, so they compete - in this case, in volume. Meanwhile, C was explaining, to A seated opposite her, how a random Scotsman, forty years ago, had transformed somebody or other's life with some unasked-for advice. C is married to P, so has learnt about volume over the years. Meanwhile, behind me on the iPod docker, Prince was tearing through 'Let's Go Crazy' from Purple Rain. Music always drives everything else out of my ears at the best of times. Meanwhile, I was having a quiet conversation with R and D, to my immediate right and left (P and C's daughter and granddaughter), about my trip to Jersey last weekend. D said something I didn't catch (it turned out to be 'Guernsey'), so I said "What?" C looked across at me. "Are you sure you're not going a bit deaf?" she said.
A bit later, someone said "Stuff an old pillow up the chimney." I definitely heard that.