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!