Last updated on 19 April 2012
We'd all like a time machine to go back and fix things, to make up with a loved one, to turn around a missed opportunity, and of course to visit a betting shop with a high limit credit card and the knowledge of who won...
I'd like to travel back in time to tell myself to look after my ears, so that I'd avoid the position I'm in now, which I've been in for nearly a decade, of never being able to hear silence again.
I thought that ringing in my ears was just part and parcel of going to a gig. Nobody told me I could actually permanently damage myself. The amount of time the ringing lasted for was almost a badge of honour. I remember proudly telling people, from 1979 onwards, how seeing Van Halen at Birmingham Civic Centre Colliseum in Alabama rendered me unable to hear for almost a week. I was proud. I thought it was cool. I thought it was just one of those things, like a hangover, that goes away eventually.
I was 13 at that Van Halen gig. More than two decades of loud music as a way of life later and an ear infection combined with using those horrid little yellow foam earplugs in bed was the last straw for my poor battered ears. I've had tinnitus ever since.
The best advice I ever had on how to deal with it sounds flippant: 'Just forget about it', said Peter Wheeler from the BTA. It is, in actual fact, the most brilliant advice. Taking your mind off it does wonders.
Now, as ambassador for the BTA, I’m on a mission to save as many ears as I possibly can. I've discovered so many colleagues that suffer from tinnitus, from DJ legends like Adam F and Rocky from X-Press 2, right through to James Theaker from NME Radio. The fact that veterans like Rocky and Adam have tinnitus is unsurprising, but James is 22 years old, and a reminder that if it’s Cupid's arrow that brings love, then whoever's poisoned dart brings tinnitus does not age discriminate.
Since a DJ colleague put me in touch with Harley Street Hearing, and I was fitted for proper earpugs, my life has got so much better. No more ringing after gigs, no more sleepless nights waiting for that infuriating high pitched tone to die down enough to release consciousness. My tinnitus has even improved a bit.
Back to that time machine. I wish I'd met somebody back then who'd told me the truth about all this. That's why I'm getting so evangelical now. It's why I'm telling as many people as I can, any way I can, what nobody told me. It's why I'm going to help the BTA persuade the government to do something about it, and it's why I've helped organise the press launch of Tinnitus Awareness Week and invited 25 DJs, each of whom has tinnitus, to play one record each in a non stop mix in one of London's coolest clubs. Watch this space.
I thought that ringing in my ears was just part and parcel of going to a gig. Nobody told me I could actually permanently damage myself.