John Gibson: Barbara is still with us, you hear?

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The name should ring a bell. Barbara Dickson is making a headline saying her hearing is dodgy. She is partially deaf in one ear and suffers from tinnitus.

What comes of exposure to loud music most of her life, unprotected, no earplugs. I’ve known Dunfermline-born Barbara, 64, since she was a teenage civil servant in Register House, singing with a guitar round the Edinburgh folk clubs for two pounds and ten shillings a night.

The tinnitus is a bind. So bad in the left ear that she can’t hear the sound of a clock but she can still tune a guitar.

She lives in Lincolnshire with husband Oliver Cookson, who specialises in studio management, and sons Colm and Gabriel.

“When I was pregnant with Colm,” Barbara recalls, “I said I have to be a candidate for a record – as the fattest woman from Dunfermline in history.”

Water waste

Coming from a tap near you, drinking water from recycled sewage. Don’t panic. It’s happened in England’s drought-ravaged south-east, long before it gets here.

Hard to swallow, yes, but Dr David Lloyd-Owen, who advises governments and corporate clients about water, isn’t joking when he tells us: “Sewage isn’t a problem, it’s a fantastic resource of embedded energy, nutrients and water.”

An acquired taste, I’m thinking. Shuddering.

Afterwords . .

. . .garbled by the sinking-fast Nick Clegg: “I believe we should be asking millonaire pensioners to perhaps make a little sacrifice on their free TV licence or their free bus passes.” Yes, Deputy Prime Minister, and that will of course include yourself, worth two million at the last count.