Friday, 30 May 2008

Put your hand on your heart…

Before I knew I was deaf and around about the age of 7, I discovered Kylie and one Christmas my mum and dad gave me her album and my grandparents bought me a shiny red walkman to play it on.

I was so excited and wore the first set of batteries down before Christmas Day was out – I wanted to be Kylie and my favourite song was Hand On Your Heart.

I vividly remember listening along and thinking that there were no real sentences and that pop stars just mumbled or inserted random words here and there that I could hear. To this day, song words have no meaning to me and I only like songs for the melody. Does this cleanse me of my Westlife-liking sins?

So, back to Kylie – I think it was because of her that I got my first inkling that all might not be well in my world of hearing. There I was, aged 7, stood on the rounders pitch at third post. With hindsight I realise now that because I couldn’t hear, I clearly had no clue what was going on and was very bored. So I started to sing Kylie, only with my words and it went something like this

Put your hands on your heart and shell me
You’re a clover
I won’t be in it til you
Put your hands on your heart and shell me
That you’re blue, oooh, waaa-aaa-aah-aah-aaah

At which point the nasty girls in my class fell about laughing.

*sniff

This trend carried on and to this day I still have no clue about the words to Summer Nights from Grease, although to be fair the words ‘Summer dreams drift out to sea’ are not a bad shot at the line ‘Summer dreams ripped at the seams’.

My ex-boyfriend/brilliant writer once wrote about lyrics he misheard and it was nice to know that someone else has a quirky take on things…
Perhaps the best one was Madonna’s Like a Virgin, which he thought went something like this, ‘Like a bird king, plucked for the very first time’.

If, for whatever random reason, I become a pop star, I will only concentrate on the melody, the words will be a rambling mix of whatever rhymes and goes with the rhythm and when the nasty girls from my class want to see me play at Wembley, I will turn them away!

Thursday, 29 May 2008

I wish I may, I wish I might...

The sun was shining when I woke up this morning and as I floated to work on my little cloud of positivity, I started to wonder what I would wish to be different in my life right now.

As usual when I start thinking about things like this, I wonder if a genie came out of my bedside lamp, would I ask him for my hearing back… and actually I’m not sure I would.

You see, being deaf might be a right Royal pain in the posterior, but it’s kind of who I am, along with my blondeness and chatterbox tendencies.

If I wasn’t deaf, would I have worked so hard at school? Would I have done so well in my degree without all the fabulous angst I channelled into my writing? Would I appreciate the smaller things in life? In short, I believe the answer would be no.

Sure, deafness has its downfalls in that it gives you a sixth sense – body language becomes more like a neon sign, flashing above people so you instantly know when they’re lying, don’t like you or are in danger of falling in love with you – all things I don’t really like the look of…

But perhaps the biggest downfall of all is that I can’t go to the cinema with the same regularity of hearing people. Take last night for example… housemate went to see the new Sex & The City movie and I REALLY WANT TO SEE THAT FILM!

I have searched the Subtitled Cinema, the Odeon and Vue website and can’t find details of any showings at all – and it’s driving me crazy. I know that there will eventually be a showing somewhere, at 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon in Ramsgate but what’s the use of that, unless you’re a deaf old pensioner with a penchant for racy movies?

So tonight, I am going to go home and dust my bedside lamp in the hope that a genie will pop out and give me one wish…

And if he does, I will wish for hearing for 24 hours – so I can go and see Sex & the City with ease, listen to Sibelius’s violin concerto and hear the cadenza at the beginning, and go to Bird World and hear some birds sing. I may also try and have a phone conversation with an Irish person to see if it’s difficult for hearing people, too!

Yup, that’s my wish list for today.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Like a moth to a lightbulb

I never learn…

Have you ever sat and watched a moth bang its head repeatedly on bright lightbulb? Well, just sometimes that’s what I think I do with my hearing. I know I can’t hear in certain situations and yet I keep putting myself in them.
Why, oh why?

Pompey-Revision-And-Onion-Soup mate visited me the other week and I thought it would be wonderful to go and see Vivaldi by Candlelight at St Martin’s in the Fields. And it was… kind of. It was a special congratulations-on-your-new-job from me to her and luckily she loved it. And I loved that she loved it but after 20 minutes of near silence while two violins battled it out, I was contemplating poking my finger in my eye and swirling it around in my brain.

The seats were hard, with an overhang on the back so you couldn’t lean back – I guess because it’s a church and they don’t want you to get to comfy and fall asleep. Somehow I still managed to for a bit of the first half.

In the second half I realised that falling asleep was a tiny bit rude and my neck was starting to ache so I tried other ways to pass the time. Luckily, there was a double bass player playing quite a lot and as a bonus he was quite cute, so I focused on him… quite literally. I stared at him the whole time, watching his fingers fly up and down the fingerboard, pretending it was a double bass solo I was listening to, and it really helped. Although I think the poor chap thought I was some kind of lunatic for staring at him for a full 40 minutes and made quite a speedy exit at the end as if half expecting me to follow…

I guess I just love classical music so much that I forget I can’t hear it. One of my favourite ever pieces is a violin concerto by Sibelius… it’s quite exquisite in places but the first couple of minutes are almost completely silent for me as there’s a huge cadenza where all I can hear is the bow scraping on the strings.

I have a flute lesson once a fortnight now, to keep my fingers nimble and really do love it, most of the time – but last week I started banging my head against a hot lightbulb again and had to play pieces I couldn’t hear for the whole lesson. And, for the first time in ages it really upset me and, rather embarrassingly, I started to cry, big, fat silent tears, and being British I tried to keep on going. But trying to blow out while crying results in one big snotty mess and some rather interesting musical phrasing.

My flute teacher, bless him, finally noticed, shut the piano lid with a bang, handed me a tissue and left me to it before returning with a large glass of red wine and a promise of lower-pitched pieces.

It helped considerably and now, whenever I see a moth banging its head against a lightbulb I feel confident that I’ve learn my lesson for the time being and I’m not going to do it again for a while.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Mel's thought for the day

Well, I am back from my explorations of the fromage and forest, baguette and boulder variety and as well as waxing lyrical about the torrential downpours and the excellent standard of climbing, I can report one more very exciting thing! I got hit on the head by a tree… well a bit of a tree anyway.

You see, during one such lovely downpour, I was sheltering from the worst of it when mischievous ex-housemate’s boyfriend (the JAWS one) decided it would be hilarious to shake the tree so I got covered in water, which would have been OK, except when he did this the tree came with the water.

The rest is a bit of a blur, I vaguely heard exclamations but nothing of any clarity and then I saw a wide-eyed Mel backing away and saying something, which to me, through torrential rain-clouded eyes and a hood pulled down lower than Kenny from SouthPark lipread as 'whathkjdhkjghth!!!!'.

Then, THWACK, it hit me… and I lost a few more blonde cells, which is what probably caused me to think no more about it.

The next day in a different bit of forest, as we all sat munching on baguette and smelly Camembert, it became clear that Mel had not forgotten about it when she piped up ‘Okay listen to this, if a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, did it really happen?’ Familiar with this riddle, we all got ready to state our thoughts on this but then she added…

‘So, if a tree falls on Deafinitely Girly in a forest and she doesn’t hear it, did it really happen?’ And at that point I laughed so hard that baguette tried to come out of my nose – something I didn’t realise was biologically possible until then!

Luckily this time, I had lots of witnesses so it definitely happened… but next time I’m walking alone, in a forest and there are lots of tall trees around, I’m going to take a hard hat.

Friday, 23 May 2008

I’m taking a break…

…until Tuesday, and I probably will have a Kitkat – stuffed inside a bit of baguette – it’s absolutely delicious and could well be why I will always have a double-figures figure.

My online silence will be because I am going on holiday, and I am rather excited. But alas those with me will have anything but silence…

First there’s the car journey – I can’t really hear in cars so my fellow travelling companions are often subjected to my deaf tourette outbursts of things like, ‘I’m bored, are we nearly there yet?’ and ‘Look at that car/sheep/cute boy over there.’ Any intelligent conversation is out of the question so I have also baked a large batch of flapjack to keep my jaw busy.

We’re camping, and climbing boulders and I’m hoping I don’t fall off the latter…
Lipreading while hugging a gigantic rock and hoping you don’t fall bottom first into the person spotting you is quite difficult, but as I love climbing rocks, it’s a small price to pay. I will just listen before and after I climb and hope that I don’t need to hear anything crucial inbetween.

Camping is always an odd one for me as when it gets dark, I can’t hear. But this year, Tigger, my bouncy friend is going to be there and he’s come up with lots of ideas to help me – I love Tigger, he’s quite a clever thing. He’s bringing a lantern so I can hear in the dark! Hurrah! And, he’s going to make sure I know what’s going on – although I’m not sure how he’s going to tell the difference between my deaf gormlessness and my blonde gormlessness…

So, back to being excited… I really am– it’ll be fun – and an excellent way to get new material for Deafinitely Girly.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Love in the time of deafness

Today I am going to a wine tasting

*hic

So I thought I’d better update this before, not after, so I didn’t accidentally write a love confession to…
Actually, come to think of it, I think I am fairly safe on that front just now – there are no potential suitors in my midst.

But just thinking about it has got me reminiscing about my first crush… and do you know – I can thank my deafness for meeting him. Although at the time no one knew and I think he liked me as I came across as something of a rebel.

You see I was always in trouble when I was at school, in the days Before Hearing Loss Was Discovered (BHLWD)… and in the days after come to think of it.

At my first school I had this draconian teacher who wouldn’t explain what she had just said when I told her I didn’t understand. She scared me witless, so much so that I actually rubbed a hole in my maths book as I got a sum wrong so many times. And, at 6 years old, I thought rubbing a hole in my maths book was a cardinal sin. I nearly cried on parents’ evening as I thought my mum might shout at me. She did shout, but at the teacher for being so evil. However, it still got me lunch detention for a week…

After two years of seeing very little of the outside of my school and lots of time practising lines on the blackboard, I moved up to the big school – it was louder and therefore had lots more potential for me to get into trouble.

Bollockings became a regular occurence. Usually a teacher had said, ‘Quiet’ and I hadn’t heard them so carried on nattering – something I am very good at. I would then be hauled across the room and banned from break, or put on changing room duty. The former punishment saw me standing outside the staff room for most of the term’s break times – but it was OK as the headmaster’s wife took pity on me and gave me the pick of the best conkers. The latter, involved tidying up the girls’ changing rooms – a mass of jolly hockey sticks and mud.

One time I got told off in the lunch hall in front of the whole school and I was mortified. The whole school gawped at me, the brand new junior with blonde pigtails jutting out at mad angles (my dad had done my hair that day… I looked like a hybrid Pippy Longstocking) being shouted at public-school style by a very tall teacher. Placed in the corner facing the wall as the rest of the green-clad clones filed out I began to cry… the kind of snivelling you do when you don’t want anyone to know you’re crying but they can tell as your shoulders are shaking and there lots of snot.

I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder and there was the cutest boy in the year above and he handed me his hankerchief and told me he’d sort some of his friends to do my changing room duty. And I fell in love! I guess being naughty was an attractive trait to 11-year-old boys and he took a shine to me – and until I left that school I had a protector. Wonder what he’s like now…

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

I am not alone!

My mum, it seems, is joining me in the land of ‘What, what? Huh, huh?’
She was at a meeting last night when her boss announced the new furniture colours in the school library.

‘Leek and carrot?’ she exclaimed… probably losing her volume control like me and announcing it town-crier style.
And with that, 10 pairs of senior management eyes were upon her… as she visualised lurid green and orange leather sofas.

‘Ink and claret,’ her boss responded.

Apparently there was a wonderfully awkward silence and then my mum started to laugh, which often becomes a choke and soon turns into a sneeze if you’re my mum! Most strange!

Anyway, a good three hours later when I spoke to her, she was still laughing, choking and sneezing, so much so that I misheard her and didn’t even get the gist of what on earth she was talking about for a good five minutes!
But it was lovely to see her laughing about it. Especially as not being able to hear so well is something new to her.

I sometimes feel very grateful that I won’t have to encounter the stress of losing my hearing as I get older (Ma I am not saying you are old). At least by the time I reach old age I will have had a whole lifetime to get used to it and who knows, medicine may have advanced so much that I could have bionic ears by then. What a thought…

I wonder if they would make pink ones…

Monday, 19 May 2008

Back in the days…

Speaking to Jen, an old friend, last night, she reminded me of the days when I just started going very deaf. One of the most noticeable things was not being able to hear in the car anymore, that and not being able to decipher my beloved Secret Seven story tapes. (I really was very geeky in those days)

Anyway, one summer she came on holiday with my family to Dartmoor and, after the excruciatingly long journey of me not understanding anything, my father renamed me ‘What, what? Huh Huh!?’. Thankfully it hasn’t stuck, although a whole host of other nicknames have… guesses on a postcard please!

Jen was, and still is brilliant about being my ears – not only did she help me lots that holiday but she also used to teach me the words to pop songs with her own form of sign language – and, 14 years on, I still smile secretly to myself when I Swear by All-4-One comes on the radio as I remember Jen gesticulating wildly to illustrate moon, stars and sun!

She also came with me to a Hearing Fair not long after my hearing loss was discovered aged 10 and officially outed me! There was lots of equipment on display for me to look at and wonder if I needed and I think I resisted everything that day in a fit of tantrum and independence! Oh what a fun child I must have been.

The truth was I really didn’t care about my deafness – it was just how the world was, and always had been. I didn’t know what I was missing and saw my new disabled status as more of a mislabelled status.

Anyway, Jen and I looked like twins in those days and everyone assumed that we were both deaf – and, by the end of the day she was starting to get a bit sick of PEOOPLE SPEEEE-AAAKKIIING TOOO HEEEE-ER SLLLOOOO-WWWERLY and eventually she lost it and snapped, ‘I’m not the deaf one, she is!’ It opened my mouth to point out that I wasn’t deaf, but then remembered that I was… dammit!

And that was it, my coming out party, at a hearing fair in Birmingham!

Friday, 16 May 2008

Friday rant!

Straight to the point today…
I am very mad with my insurance company!

For the fourth year running I had the following phone conversation with them…

‘Hello’
‘Oh hello, I’m calling from your insurance company as your policy is up soon. Would you like to renew?’
Except I hear ‘Psg dkfjh kdsnk nkgnskdfdn gkjdkj kkjbkjdb kjbf renew?’
‘I’m deaf,’ I say. ‘and I’ve been telling you this every year you’ve called me for the last four years!’ My voice is normally quite shrill by this point as I ask them to email me and hang up. It was, with hindsight, dumb to let them have my mobile number – but the enquiry form wouldn’t send without it. Next time, I’m going to make one up.

Anyway…

Two days later – ‘Hello there… this is…’

and I hang up.

The next week, Boss answered my work phone with its strobe flasher when I was in the kitchen making tea. ‘Your insurance company rang,’ she said.
‘Arrrgh,’ I replied.

She’s used to this now – having been privy to two years of it so far.

Finally, after six ignored calls, two hang-ups and a very rude word… I reached the end of my tether and asked my mum to ring them. Except they didn’t want to talk to her because she’s not me. After some polite, gentle persuasion (I love my mum), she got them to renew my policy and they had almost redeemed and removed themselves from the top of my idiot pile.

Thoughtful mum ended the call by asking for an email address so that I could get in touch with them if I needed to. The guy gave her three phone numbers. Politely, but firmly, she reminded him that I couldn’t use the phone, which was why he was speaking to her and so he gave her another phone number.

By this point I had gone a puce colour and the steam from my ears was causing the paint to peel from the walls…

Hoping that the third time would be lucky, my mum tried again and he disappeared from the line for 10 minutes presumably to find his brain, which clearly wasn’t in his head and came back with an email address…

He’s called Kevin and I hope that I won’t have any need to email him as I feel the sort of affection for him that one reserves for giant sea slugs – but I’m sure his delightful, unintelligible voice will grace my voicemail next year…

I’ll keep you updated.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Deafness made me drunk!

A few years ago, I went to visit my friend in Birmingham for a night out with another uni mate. It was a very civilised affair – we had dinner in her lovely Jewellery-Quarter flat and a few glasses of wine. And then we hit the town…

Less than an hour later I was sat on the floor in a bar, vandalising a plant by pulling it’s leaves off, and generally being a deliquent, which for those of you who know me will know is quite out of character (honestly!!). Of that night, I remember little else…

The next morning I woke up, head crashing and convinced I’d done something terrible. With shaking hands, I checked my phone. No drunken texts to Boy-Who-Did-My-Head-In-But-Who-I-Still-Liked (I’m over him now), which was a relief. But, sat on a sofa, with my relatively unhungover friends, feeling like death, it lead me to question just why I had got drunk so much more quickly than them.

After much deliberation, it was Clever Katie who came up with the reason, apart from lack of self control, as to why I had gotten inebriated that night and guess what!?
I can blame it on my deafness!

You see, in the quietness of a living room I never get steaming drunk ahead of everyone else and, unless there is red wine around – which sets me off on the successful path to talking rubbish – I am the model of good behaviour.

But, once outside in the loud world of nightclubs and bars, I can’t hear anything so therefore I am often left stood there, nodding and smiling away pretending that I am following things, when in fact I am not. Bored and in need of something to do that makes me look less like the nodding Churchill Dog, I drink my drink. And, hey presto, I am on my fast-track journey to Pissedville.

And, so armed with this knowledge, I have spent the last two years trying to find other things to do in clubs, other than suck through a straw, when I can’t hear… it’s been a rocky journey of accidental kisses, dancing on tables and falling downstairs (actually it was Nikki that did that) – but the good news is, not all of this is done in the first half hour anymore and I remember nights out. Who would have thought that it was deafness getting me so steaming drunk in the olden days… naughty deafness – does that atone my behaviour at my Grandmother’s 80th birthday I wonder?

You know what the best news of all is though? I haven’t demolished any pot plants since either. Soil under the fingers nails is not a good look!

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

I’m not facetious… really!

I was eating dinner last night with Friend-Who-Knows-Big-Words when she reminded me of the time my hearing had her rolling around the floor with laughter… and me blacklisted from Tesco canteen forever more!

The Tesco canteen was the perfect venue for our A-level revision – skanky, sticky and rammed with junk food! We used to sit in there for hours discussing Charles II or the ‘merits’ of Mansfield Park – usually with me mumbling under my breath that Jane Austen should have been strangled at birth. (I’ve grown up a lot since then)

One day we arrived there, in my car (possibly the same day I nearly fractured Helena’s skull), all badly in need of coffee before our exams started for the day. The canteen was loud – machines buzzed, broad accents cut through the air and the sea of perms was making my head spin. I needed caffeine and I needed it now!

Suddenly, from behind the counter appeared a fierce looking woman, hair set solid, features to match and said, ‘Are you waiting for coffee?’ Except, I didn’t hear her over the rabble and gabble of OAPs so I just guessed and said, ‘No! I’m waiting for coffee.’ And, it was at this moment that I lost my volume control and accidentally bellowed it.

Thirty perms turned and stared at me, even the coffee machine seemed to slow to a hush and then I heard manic spluttering from in front of me as Hannah appeared to be fitting, frantically stuffing the sleeve of her jumper into her mouth.

The woman looked at me as if I was something nasty that had crawled out from under a stone and promptly served the person behind me. With no idea what I’d said wrong, I was ushered through the queue like a leper, my friends trying to keep the hysterical bouts of laughter from escaping, making them sound like manic kittens.

‘What did I do wrong?’ I asked as we sat down with our mineral waters – I’d unwittingly ruined our chance for caffeine…
‘Shite,’ was my response when I found out.

Another accidental smart-Alec moment came when I was temping in an office that was relocating. The boss was packing up and extremely stressed. ‘Could you get me a bowl,’ I thought he asked. So off I tottered in search of a bowl, which was quite difficult in a half-empty office block. After much searching I returned with a battered plastic flower pot in my hand, quite proud of my find and presented it to him.
‘Very clever,’ he said putting it down on the side and stalked off.
I stood there a while wondering what the hell I’d done wrong when the office angel sidled up to me and hissed, ‘What the hell was that? He asked you for a bulb, for a light – not a flower pot.’
He’d obviously been quicker than me…

Light – bulb – flower pot…

Gettit?

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

The art of walking... revised

Hahahahaha!

Ahem, sorry – I am still chuckling to myself after my antics with Fab Friend at the climbing wall last night. I encountered one of the most common pitfalls connected to being deaf – trying to lipread AND walk, and stumbled straight into a bent-over man’s bottom.

Fab Friend and I dissolved into fits of giggles much to the man’s bemusement and it seemed too difficult to explain quite why I hadn’t seen his hulk of a torso in my path… but I honestly didn’t because I was looking backwards hearing something FF was saying about a cute boy around the corner.

Walking into things when you’re deaf is something of an occupational hazard. I have honestly walked into more lampposts/walls/people/cars than I’ve walked around.

I do try and look where I’m going, but if I put more effort into that, then I can’t chat and I really do like chatting.
One time, on a school trip to the ballet I walked into a lamppost with such ferocity that I honestly thought I’d managed to reverse the direction of my nose.

But, when things like this happen to me, and I can feel the burning eyes and guess that bystanders are sniggering, I console myself that hearing people walk into things, too.

Perhaps the best one I’ve ever witnessed was at Notting Hill Carnival – cool people, cool music and lots of TV cameras. There was one filming on Westbourne Park Road and the two people ahead of me spotted it and started to try and walk cooler, look cooler, dance cooler but actually looked like total dicks.

This was amusing enough until one of them, putting all his effort into coolness, failed to notice a massive lamppost – wider than average and festooned with streamers and balloons, I have no idea how he managed it. But he hit it, front on and bounced of it with the ease of a bouncy ball and the finesse of a newborn foal.

The camera captured it all, including my beaming face – not happy about his misfortune, but happy that for once it wasn’t me!

Monday, 12 May 2008

Me and my hearing aids

I own hearing aids but I am not a hearing aid wearer – if the NHS ordered me some pink hearing aids, I might possibly become a hearing aid wearer… they’d match my phone then…

Is that shallow? Who cares!

My hearing aids currently sit in a box by my bed and rarely come out of it – sure sometimes I wear them for the novelty factor, for when I want people to look at me, see them and look away really quickly… or for when I’m having an EDD (Extra-Deaf Day) after a particularly loud night out with housemate.

Although my most recent pair are more tolerable, one of the reasons I hate wearing my hearing aids so much is they make everything so loud – so loud in
fact that I fall over! But then, even without my hearing aids, certain things still make me fall over!

I first discovered my knack of falling over to loud noises when I was in a nightclub during Freshers’ week – it was of those fabulous 90s places with fabric flames that billowed unrealistically and lashings of Woody’s and WKD…

It also had podiums, which were situated on top of giant speakers – and it was these speakers that were my downfall literally! There I was slinking along in my giant flares and platform trainers (so, so cool) when suddenly, as I walked past the speaker, music thumping, I found myself flat on the floor… looking like a complete idiot… and I learnt something

Loud music + me = no balance

That learnt, I moved on and was quite happy knowing that should a fighter jet fly over, a police van (I can hear those klaxon-sounding sirens) or a big motorbike come flying past, I should brace myself like that scene in Mary Poppins, where everyone holds on to bits of the house – only in my case, I hold a lamppost, person, my brains and occasionally if I am not quick enough, the floor! Oh the shame!

And then, I got new hearing aids – with promise of being able to watch TV without subtitles and birds singing – the latter I was really excited about as I have never heard a bird sing…
However, my hearing aids were so loud that, on coming out of the clinic, a bus went past and I fell over…

Trying to give them a chance I went to the park to hear birds… and a police car went by and I fell over. So I went home and tried to listen to the TV but I had to have it on so quietly, because my hearing aids made it so loud, that even housemate would have struggled to understand what Paul Robinson was saying.

So I put them in the box and accepted that life has pros and cons – the pros of being hearing-aidless by far outweight the cons…

I fall over less, I fall over less, and um… I fall over less.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Please leave a message after the foghorn

If you are ever unlucky enough to hear an answer phone message left by me, it will go something like this…
‘Er… dammit, can’t hear the beep – has the beep happened? Er… Hello, this is Mo-‘

And that’s as far as I get before the time limit cuts me off…

Why are beeps so high on answer phones?

Come to think of it where the heck did the idea of beeps come from in the first place?
Why not a big, low booming foghorn? When I lived in Pompey, I could always hear the ships honking away as I lay in bed at night and if everything that beeped honked instead my life would be so much easier.

The beeps that I can’t hear fall in to two categories – those which are helpful to people, and those that stop people getting dead…

The ones in the helpful category, I find mildly inconvenient – like the time I got distracted watching the Neighbours Omnibus and let my flapjack bake for two hours because I couldn’t hear the oven timer (mental note to self to get Miele to design a vibrating oven).

Then, there are the beeps that signal that tube doors are closing. I don’t like tubes at the best of times but I have this amazingly dumb habit of sticking my head into or out of the doors just as they close and… BANG… that’s another few brain cells gone! What’s worse is the looks of pity that people give me, as if I’m some idiot who ignored the beeps. ‘I DIDN’T HEAR THEM!’ I want to shout, nursing my sore bonse and going bright red with embarrassment.
But I don’t, I just sit there and ignore everyone, like everyone does on the tube.

Now, onto the dead ones. These include Level Crossing alarms on train tracks – I really cannot hear these and living in the sticks growing up, there were quite a few. One time, when I was skiving off RE and going to the pub I almost got hit by a train – I looked both ways and stepped out to hear a ROOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR
PAAAARRRRRRRRRP!!!! (at least the horns are those wonderful low booming noises).

Head-girl-and-best-friend saved my life – she grabbed my rucksack and pulled me backwards.

I bought her some chips and mayonnaise in the pub to say thanks…

…generous as I am!

Thursday, 8 May 2008

I'm going a Deaf/Blind date

Right now, I’m sat at work waiting to go on a date… a blind date!
Why why why and HOW do I get myself into these situations? that is really what I would like to know.
The positive side of me is speaking up in soft tones akin to an earth mother wafting incense around a mud hut and saying that it’s good to broaden my horizons, meet new people and blah blah blah – actually right now I can’t be bothered to listen to her so I’m pretending I can’t hear her – a handy deaf trick.

Now, I could start my millions of reasons why I hate first and blind dates so much with a deaf-related reason – but actually there’s a far simpler reason that is top of my list, lit in neon and filling me with dread.
I hate waiting in the bar for the guy to turn up and then trying to say hello…

It’s a near impossible task for me. For starters, when I am nervous I go blind to faces, I doubt I could recognise my own mother, so I am usually frantically scanning the bar wondering if that’s him… or maybe it’s him (and sometimes even) Oh no, that’s actually a girl!

Another thing I do when I am nervous is forget to breathe – so by the time they have showed up, I’m normally seeing stars, have pins and needles in my hands and am about to keel over – this does not go hand in hand with eloquent conversation so I normally greet them with, ‘Helllurgh…’ start shaking and take a huge gulp of air.

Ironically, the thing I mind least is telling them that I can’t hear – they normally go a bit crazed at first and the one who I fell asleep in a bar listening too actually guffawed like a country gent and exclaimed, ‘Golly! Don’t you do marvellously!’ Bit of an odd reaction but it’s a wonderful way of showing how someone works up there… and it gives you a great insight into whether you could actually like them.

One guy was so unbelievably sweet about it I could have married him on the spot and one time a guy acted like I had told him something about the weather – it just went in one ear and out the other, speeding through the door – with me close behind.

But back to tonight’s date – I wonder when I will tell him or if I will even tell him at all – I didn’t tell one guy once and he just thought I was blonde and pissed!
Tonight I plan to tell him, and be blonde and pissed, too.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Air on a D-eaf String

When I was 6 years old, I announced I wanted to be a concert violinist, hoicked my mum’s guitar under my chin and tried to play it with a pencil!
After much begging, I got the real thing and it really did sound like a cat being strangled under water – but it was okay because I was going to be a world-famous violinist so I had to improve… right?

But then, bugger it, I found out I was going deaf and the violin gradually faded from my grasp. I so wanted to be a female version of Nigel Kennedy (but with better hair), and it used to make me very mad – one time so mad I actually headbutted my violin and ended up in casualty. I had quite a temper in those days!

So then I thought I would beat my hearing at its own game and took up the viola, which is one clef lower, but I was soon outwitted and after a time could once again only hear the bow scraping on the strings.

Then, one day in a fit of defiance I spotted a double bass languishing in the corner of our music room at school. ‘I’ll play that,’ I thought to myself and soon enough I was having a weekly lesson with Big Bird from Sesame Street – she really did look and sound like her, so much so that I have totally forgotten her real name.

I loved the double bass, it spat and heaved out great big throaty notes and was by far the loudest instrument in our feeble flute- and ego-heavy orchestra.
Just my cup of tea. Until one day I came in for my weekly lesson to find my double bass was gone… poof! Just like that… it had vanished into thin air. Well, not quite thin air, someone had nicked it. Not the double bass case, or the bow, just the bass!!!!

On reporting it to the police in the sleepy little town I lived in, the plod behind the counter said, ‘Oooh yars, I do believe we had a drunken sod in last night saying he’d seen a man running across a field with a giant cello. Thought he was just pissed to be honest, dear.’ And that was the end of that!

Anyone got a tuba I could borrow?

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Apres ski

Sat on the bus last night, in my own quiet world minus the guy who kept moaning in a very disturbing way (did I mention I can hear low noises), I got reminiscing about my car.
Jennifer was my only lesbian crush – and I think as she was a green Mini – it doesn’t really count. She was everything I could wish for in a car and came into my life when I was 16 and couldn’t even drive.
My friend Jenny and I used to sit in her where she was parked outside my house and listen to Roxette on the very shonky cassette recorder.
Now, Minis are perfectly suited to not being able to hear very well, because they are so loud that your passengers can’t hear very well either, so we were all in the same boat. My Mini was also very good at making extremely loud noises when something was about to go wrong. I think everyone within a five-mile radius knew when her exhaust had fallen off.
I had her for 10 years and during that time she saw more than her fair share of dramas, break-ups and general girly gossip. She learnt to fly over cattle grids at break neck speeds, park on pavements and even coped when some ridiculously stupid chav from Pompey reversed into her. When she died, from a head injury, I was broken hearted.
Now I have a quiet purring Peugeot called Boo, which I love and that I can hear surprisingly well in – but I still look back at my years in Jennifer the Mini fondly.
There was the time I nearly fractured Helena’s skull going over a speed bump in Tesco car park – she was sat in the middle of the back seat so I could lip read her in the rear view mirror and I approached the speed bump with such gusto that she took off vertically into the motor for my electric sunroof.
Then there was the time I was driving to school with my friend Kate, discussing our forthcoming skiing trip. ‘Of course you don’t need one,’ I said in answer to her question. ‘But my parents would really like me to have one,’ she replied.
Incredulously I looked at her and said, ‘Why on earth do your parents want you to take a cocktail dress skiing?’
There was a roll of eyes as I pulled into the car park at school, and a pause as I yanked the handbrake up. Then, Kate looked at me and said, ‘Cocktail dress? What are you on about? I said contact address!’
For embarrassment’s sake, I took my fist cocktail dress skiing that year!

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Life gets cheaper every day

As you know, I saw Fab-Friend-Who-Actually-Wears-Her-Hearing-Aids last night and, after reading yesterday’s rant, she reminded me positively of all the great things about being deaf…

We can sleep through practically anything – except 5-year-old boys playing Spiderman at 7am on a Saturday morning and bin men, who from the noise they make outside my flat, also appear to be playing Spiderman…
We can ignore people without them thinking we’re rude – so when you spot the ex-boyfriend across the street, it’s fine to walk on by oblivious to his calls of ‘I still love you, you know!’ Fab friend and I always find that boys shout this after us.

But here’s the best bit…

Life Costs Less

I’m not kidding, it really does. We get free local travel, discounted national rail travel and as I discovered last night, even climbing is cheaper!
As we were paying I noticed that Fab Friend’s bill came to quite a lot less than mine and as this had happened before I asked the till man why.
He looked up Fab Friend’s details and said, rather confused, ‘Eet says sheee ees dis-abled.’ Being deaf is not the most obvious disability so people don’t really believe us a lot of the time.

‘But I am too,’ I exclaimed with glee. ‘Can I have a discount as well?’
I could feel him eyeing me somewhat warily so I jumped to action and pulled out all the proof I could find – much to Fab Friend’s amusement.

There was my free travel card, my disabled rail card and here’s the best one, which I’d totally forgotten about, my Sympathetic Hearing Card!
I think this was the clincher as one look at that and he was tapping away faster than you can say disability discrimination and BOOM, as if by magic, climbing now costs less.

I love my Sympathetic Hearing Card – it’s more kitsch than a 70s lampshade and Afghan coat with it’s off-white appearance and retro imagery – goodness knows which ignorant beige-wearing person thought up the design but it’s function is actually quite vital. Say I had got run over by that fire engine – the cute boys in uniform could have checked my wallet and realised I was deaf and not stupid. But err…

probably dead.

Subtitled Cinema: Daydreaming of a better deaf world

Sometimes, just sometimes, I allow myself the chance to daydream about all the things on my deaf wishlist coming true... It's a bit li...