Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Excuses, excuses…

The reason for my late blog today is my new haircut! Hurrah!
Now, don’t get too excited – it’s much the same as before just without the straggly ratty ends.
I thought about going brunnette but Shakira-Shakira said NO! I thought about getting a bob but I think it would make my
already-round face look about 10ft wide! So instead I just got a trim, but now when I turn my head my hair goes swish, swoosh
over my shoulders as though I'm in a Timotei advert!
However, as a result of using my lunch hour for a haircut, I now have lots of very important work to do!
So it's hair today and blog tomorrow…

Monday, 29 September 2008

My cider-drinking weekend

I had a lovely weekend in Devon with Onion-Soup Mate and FSA Boy and drank ever such a lot of cider! I didn’t even think that I liked cider, but then the last time I had it was in my friend’s bedroom in the late 90s and the brand was White Lightening!

My journey down was uneventful except for my change in Bristol where the Platform Person’s whistle nearly made me fall over. To cut a long story short, there I was, stood on the platform, a train to Cardiff waiting to depart, when suddenly a whistle blew, and I found myself crouched down gripping a railing, one hand clasped around my head, suitcase thrown one way, handbag the other. Seriously, this whistle was so loud I expected to see the Four Horsemen come riding in.

The woman with the whistle thought it was hilarious and I think a lot of the people on the train did, too!

*blush

Anyway, once there, we certainly packed a lot into the weekend. On Saturday morning we went to see the most haunted castle in England – there was an audio guide so Onion-Soup-Mate translated for me and together we learnt about Berry Pommeroy and it’s fairly tragic history. In the bottom of a turret that was dark, damp and eerie, we learnt of Margaret, who was imprisoned there and starved to death by her jealous sister – I tried to do a runner but OSM stopped me and we sat for a while wondering where her ghost was.

Growing impatient, I kind of ruined the mood by yelling ‘Margaret, Margaret!’ like Matt Lucas does in Little Britain!

*tut tut!

There was also apparently a Blue Lady ghost whose presence meant death –so I kept my eyes shut when hearing about her!

On Sunday, we went to see Big Top and Little Top for lunch, which was lovely and delicious and I was very sad to leave for my train home. Had I known what lay ahead, I would have refused to leave.

I had booked a seat in the Quiet Coach, thinking I could have a nap, read and enjoy a restful atmosphere on my return to London.

*ha bloody ha

The quiet coach was rammed, with people who were sat in other people’s reserved seats – so there were shouting matches at every station. In the gangway stood a Spanish boy of about 10 who sang badly throughout the journey and to my left sat a 3 year old who had the loudest learning toy ever that kept emitting tinny music. Opposite her, sat her brother who was playing on a Nintendo DS and kept shrieking at it. Beside him sat their mother who didn’t seem to think there was any problem with the ruckus her children were making… in the QUIET COACH! I had to bite my tongue to prevent myself from standing up and screaming ‘SILENCE’ like some sort of demented newly-qualified teacher.

Across the gangway sat an man, whose expression of horror mirrored mine for much of the journey. If anything, I feel more sympathy for him, because I am deaf – and if the racket was that bad for me, I hate to imagine what it was like for him.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Thankful Friday strikes again…

Thankful Friday has come around awfully quickly this week! Where does the time go?

Well, as usual I have a host of things to be thankful for – one is my wonderful Pa who spent the morning packing up my room at home for the decorators. He’s not been well recently and did it in spite of that… and my lack of minimalism meant that this was probably a stressful and time consuming event for him.

*Guilty pause…

Moving on, I am also thankful for the sunshine! I am off to see Onion-Soup Mate in Devon this weekend and the sun is due to shine all weekend. She’s married to FSA Boy and they have a lovely house, which I have yet to see. I am most excited about seeing it and also about the cream tea that I have been promised.

We are also going to see Big Top and Little Top, Onion-Soup Mate’s mum and dad – they are fabulous and over the years put up with the entire university climbing club pitching tents in their garden, drinking their tea supplies dry and talking during the Grand Prix… actually it was just me doing the latter as it’s soooooooo boring.

I have just checked and there is a Grand Prix this weekend…

*Harrumph

I just don’t really get it that’s all – the cars go round and round and round and round until someone, usually Lewis Hamilton, wins. Sometimes drivers are ordered not to win and there’s lots of scandals and spilled champagne. Hmmmmm!

However, this particular race, which is in Singapore, actually sounds quite exciting though as it’s the first night race in Formula-One history and the first street race in Asia, too…

Maybe I will watch it after all…

Thursday, 25 September 2008

It's pink and fabulous

Yesterday my credit card took a hammering! But when the reason for the plundering of my savings arrived my smile was so wide that even my bank manager would have forgiven me. Thankfully he doesn’t need to know as I had kind of been saving especially.

I am now the proud new owner of the smallest pink laptop I have ever seen… it’s actually called a notebook but it kind of looks like a laptop that never grew.
I am completely and utterly in love with it actually and, after much exploring last night, with the help of Big Bro, I think it and me are going to be good friends.

Now, I do have another laptop but it’s so old that it wheezes when you switch it on and the battery has long since given up so it needs to be constantly connected to the power supply. It was an emergency replacement laptop after the demise of my three previous ones.

Actually thinking back to all their grizzly ends, I am a little bit nervous about my new one. To be fair the first one wasn’t my fault – it was at Uni in my first year and a naughty man broke into my room and made off with it.

*sniff

Number 2 met a sticky end while I was writing my dissertation as I poured a pint of water over it. It hiccupped for months before I finally replaced it.

Number 3 met the stickiest end of all… I dropped a lever arch file on it and shattered the screen. I remember calling up my boyfriend at the time, Rock Boy who worked for IBM, and asking him if it was repairable as I had three urgent articles due in for my post grad. It as 2am and like every knight-in-shining-armour would, he came over with a spare laptop of his that I could use and gently broke it to me that my own laptop was um… broke

Mental note to self, must keep my new one away from heavy things that fall, burglars and pint glasses of water…

My main reason for buying my mini pink laptop is that my paper notebooks are getting full. I always carry one with me for scribbling new ideas in – I start from one end with stories I am working on and from the other with ideas for Deafinitely Girly… but just recently I have been meeting in the middle with the most alarming frequency.

So I had the idea of getting an ultra-portable laptop that I can fish out of my bag on the bus and tap-tap away whenever I get inspiration. It’s also got wireless internet and whatnot so now, wherever I am I can do the blog…

No more posts of ‘Yah, I’m jetting off to Monaco/Paris/Istanbul so won’t be writing today…’

No, no, no, no, no – Deafinitely Girly is going mobile and she’s hoping you’ll follow her!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Hear the world…

…make it a better place!?

That’s what Bryan Adams wants to do with his photographs at the Hear the World Ambassadors Photography Collection in Zurich this week. He’s the official photographer for Hear the World, although I must confess I thought he was the guy who sang at the end of Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. Apparently though, he does both!

It turns out that Hear the World is a global Phonak (Hearing aid peeps for those of you who don’t know) initiative to raise awareness about the importance of good hearing and the impact of hearing loss. The press release I found also said that 500 million people suffer from hearing loss, the discovery of which prompted me to break into another Michael Jackson song You Are Not Alone – as according to this, I am not.

I checked out Mr Adams’s photos on the Hear the World website and there are loads of famous music-related faces jumping on the bandwagon including Annie Lennox, Kelly Osbourne and Amy Winehouse… although I think the latter has a bit more to worry about health wise than going deaf.

I don’t really know what to say about this initiative to be honest – I don’t really think it’s meant to excite already-deaf people like me – more impress the importance of not damaging your hearing on peeps who as yet don’t have a hearing loss.

What did make me chuckle was the Facts About Hearing section, which was subtitled as ‘Our ears never sleep’. What part of our body, when considered individually, does sleep? If a sciencey person knows the answer please let me know, but my non-sciencey self has had a think and the brain doesn’t sleep – it’s still working away when we’re snoring, none of our vital organs sleep – well at least I hope they don’t or we’d all be dead.

For all you hearies out there though, there’s a rather interesting section called Hear the World with different ears, which allows you to listen to how people with hearing loss hear music. You can check it out at http://www.hear-the-world.com/hoeren_und_hoerverlust/hoeren_mit_hoerschwierigkeit.htm

Please let me know what you think. I am going to have a listen too – then I will be a deaf person listening to how a deaf person hears music…

Hmmmmm

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Tree, little, milk, egg, book – hearing test I took…

A look in my diary this morning has shown that I am due for a hearing test soon. I haven’t minded the last few visits I’ve made to the audiology clinic as I have a great new audiologist who is determined to find hearing aids that will help me.

She hasn’t succeeded yet, but she has the patience of a saint and the most incredible determination. Last time I visited she told me that she’d been researching on the internet and had come across a company that are creating hearing aid that can change the pitch of sounds. This would be amazing for me as I could make all the high noises I can’t hear, lower.

Thinking about it though, it could be a little weird, too. A cat walks past me and meows – to everyone else this is a fragile high-pitched bleat… to me it sounds like a lion on acid.

But do you know, on my first visit to the audiology clinic they didn’t believe I was deaf. It was shortly after meeting Fab Friend, nearly four years ago. Her success with digital aids convinced me to make get a referral – which involved my GP checking my ears for wax, just in case that had been making me deaf all these years.

*Hah, I wish!

As I hadn’t had a hearing test for over eight years due to moving house and university, no one at the clinic seemed to know the whereabouts of my notes and all they had to go on was a GP referral to confirm my ears were wax free.

So, they shut me in a box, but I got Goldilocks syndrome – the first one was too small and made me very claustophobic, the second was occupied and the third one was just right. Headphones on, finger poised over the button, I waited for the test to begin…

SILENCE

The lady testing me came into the room. ‘Press the button when you hear the sounds,’ she said.
‘I will,’ I replied as she shut the metre-thick door.

Again, I readied myself for the beeps.

SILENCE

Again she came back in and fiddled around with the machine. ‘It’s not broken,’ she said. ‘Why aren’t you pressing the button?’
‘Because there aren’t any beeps,’ I replied before biting down hard on my tongue to prevent any sarcastic follow-ups.

She went out again and after a few moments some low beeps started playing, so I pressed the button and then it went silent again for quite a while until she came back in – a grave look on her face.

‘I’d like you to see a consultant,’ she said and after a few minutes I was ushered through to meet the bespectacled little man.
‘We have found you are very very deaf,’ he said.

‘Yes, I know I am very deaf,’ I told him, wondering if he was going to say anything more enlightening than that. ‘I did let the others know, but I don’t think they believed me.’

‘Have you always had blue eyes?’ he asked. ‘Any heart, liver or kidney problems?’ he added quickly.

‘Um, yes and no – not that I know of.’ At this, my heart began beating very fast as I imagined all sorts of worse-case scenarios and wondered how crap ears could affect my vital organs.

‘OK, you are free to go,’ he said.

And that was that…

I thought about hitting Google to see what I could find out, but I have a pact with myself never to type medical symptoms in and hit search. The reason for this is that you will always have cancer. If you have a sore toe, it will be toe cancer, a sore tongue – tongue cancer, a sore head – a brain tumour.

If I Google this I will be scared forever…

*Squeak

Can you get ear cancer?

Monday, 22 September 2008

My friend Pete…

This weekend I saw Big Bro and his wife, Maxi Clog and their son, Mini Clog. Mini Clog is quite the most gorgeous thing in the whole world and it was lovely to meet him again after so long. When he called me aunty I almost fainted with shock, having quite forgotten that I am one.

*note to self – must try and act a little more responsibly…

I got to see Nottnum Cousin 2 and Nottnum Uncle too, and it was so nice to see so many of the important men in my life in one weekend! Men I find are classed in several categories… there are those who I love, those who I really really like, and those who I wish would take life-long sabbaticals to Timbuktu… and then, there’s Pete.

Now, the reason I’m on first-name terms with the ticket officer at the Rents’ station is that quite simply, he seems to think his sole purpose in his life is to make my life miserable… and I’m not just being my usual egocentrical self either. He’d let a ticketless vagrant through those barriers sooner than he’d allow me through.

So let’s set the scene…

In order to enjoy a full weekend at the rents, I often choose to return at stupid o’clock on a Monday morning and, due to rail fares being half my monthly salary, I choose the cheapest option available, which allows me to take one of two trains an hour.

Now, this is all well and good – and in an organised country like Switzerland, I would have no concerns with this. But, unfortunately, this is England and both those trains are owned by Richard Branson.

To be fair, I’ve got nothing against him personally, but I do have a problem with a company that thinks its trains are running OK if they turn up at some point that week.

So anyway, I usually turn up at the station with a few minutes to spare and to subtly waft my ticket in Pete's direction. The first time I did this, he told me it wasn’t valid and, even though the exact time was printed on it and Mr Branson had posted it to me, he tried to make me buy a new one – the cost of which would clear a small country of its debt.

*Pah

I tried very hard to contain my tantrum and even resorted to my Cat-from-Shrek look, but nothing worked. However, eventually, when it became clear that he was WRONG and I was RIGHT, he let me through and, with about 2 seconds to spare, I hurled myself on the train.

Pete and I have come to blows no less than six times in our short ‘friendship’ – one time it cost me £18 – but to be fair, that was partly Mr B’s fault as his company decided to reschedule all of its trains to arrive the following week and that was too late for me.

One time he made me cry as I watched my train come… and go…

This morning he was there and recognised me instantly. The Spaghetti Western music started up as we squared up across the ticket barrier and he hmmmed and aaahed over my ticket, inspecting it this way and that. Eventually he said, ‘Have you got a young person’s railcard?’
‘Do I look like I should have?’ I snapped impatiently, cross with him as in big bold letters it says ‘Only valid with disabled adult’ on my ticket. In the end I said to him slowly and carefully with an edge of irate pit bull in my voice, ‘I am disabled’ and it was then I realised I had said the magic word.

He waved me through, in a flurry of DDA panic and I made my train. But I have a feeling this sorry saga is not over. I will be seeing him again in just under two weeks and I bet this time he asks to see my wooden leg as proof.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Thank crunchie* it's Friday

OK, OK, I know, it’s a poor show that the blog went up so late today but if I said it’s because I was out partying with Kate Moss last night, would you believe me?

I was actually in the same place as Kate Moss and she was right beside me… but we didn’t speak… does that constitute as partying!?

But enough of that – today is Thankful Friday so here goes…

Firstly, I am thankful for Diet Coke as it’s helping me feel a little bit better at this exact moment in time. Secondly, I am thankful for airplanes. These marvellous contraptions mean that Big Bro has come over from Clogland for a visit with his wife and my nephew Mini Clog.

Mini Clog is very clever, he’s only little and can already speak two languages. He speaks English with Big Bro and Dutch with his Ma. Apparently there are some words that he only knows in English and some he only knows in Dutch so Big Bro and his wife, Maxi Clog are often called on for different things!.

I am very excited as I haven’t seen Big Bro and his family since December, which seems and is a very long time ago. He emailed me this week to let me know that he has got me a jar of the spectacular Speculoos, which I am also thankful for and I am planning to eat it with a spoon as soon as I arrive at the Rents.

I will also be exceptionally thankful for home time tonight, as I need a nice sit down and a cup of tea.

*©Beeb Boy

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Trio, triiii-o…

Last night I went to the most fabulous concert at the Wigmore Hall, which is one of my favourite concert venues in London. The inside is quite exquisite and it’s also small so you feel like you really get to ‘see’ the concert.

The Royal Festival Hall comes a close second, mainly because of the fabulously retro carpet, which is oh-so-me. Onion-Soup-Mate might not agree with me on the latter though as she was once left traumatised by a particularly long and unusual Tangerine Dream concert that my Pa and I dragged her to. Had she not have been so polite, I think she would have run, screaming from the building.

Anyway, I’m on the mailing list for the Wigmore Hall and a few weeks ago I got an email informing me that for the next two hours tickets were half price. Fabulous, I thought and visited their website immediately.

And this is where I must confess to having a rather blonde moment…

*blush

I’m not even sure I should admit to it actually – only The Writer and The Rents know about it – but in all truth, I still think it was an easy thing to misunderstand.

If I say Piano Trio what do you visualise? If like me, you thought it was three pianos, you’re wrong. But, in the short time that I thought it was three pianos, I got really excited. Three pianos I could deafinitely hear and how unique that would be, too. Wasn’t Beethoven forward-thinking for his time, I thought to myself…

and that’s where alarm bells started to ring. A quick Google revealed that a Piano Trio is usually a piano, violin and cello… So why’s it called a piano trio then?

This was still good enough for me – I always like to see things by fellow deafy Beethoven and I reckoned that it would only be the violin I wouldn’t be able to hear. So I booked my ticket.

And, it was absolutely marvellous! I couldn’t hear the violin at all, but the cello was beautiful and there was such a wonderful mix of soulful slow movements and lively and loud quick movements that I honestly felt as though I had heard the whole thing and I almost forgot I was deaf.

In the interval I got chatting to an American lady who comes to London for two months every year just to go to concerts – she’d already been to six this week and happily reeled off her forthcoming ones.

It was quite inspiring – if a little bonkers – that this woman spends her whole life at concerts… perhaps I should stop hankering after a holiday in the sun and take a holiday in London instead.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

While I'm on a roll…

Oh dear, oh dear, I am having a moany week. Perhaps it’s the weather getting me down, or perhaps I need a holiday in the sun. Whatever it is though, I am going to try and get it all out of the way so I can have a Thankful Friday at the end of the week.

So what’s on my mind today then? Pah… the lack of subtitles on the BBC iPlayer. I first discovered this brilliant online service during the Olympics. I wanted to watch things like diving and gymnastics but it was all on when I was at work. But the iPlayer meant I could catch up on the latest action while munching on my M&S salad over lunch. It was great but quiet…

…the reason for this is that virtually none of the programmes on the iPlayer is subtitled. Sure, there’s a little bit in iPlayer help about how to switch subtitles on but this is totally pointless as for most programmes, there are none.

I would love to watch back episodes on Mock The Week, a programme I love, but always miss, and it would also be a great way to pass rainy lunchtimes now there is no Olympics but alas it is not meant to be.

As I have said in the past, I just don’t get the lack of subtitles when it comes to the BBC. I am a licence payer and deaf people aren’t offered reductions on their fees. Why should we pay the full whack when we have a substandard service? Granted, I am not sure the licence fee funds the iPlayer and have yet to hit Google to find out, but if these programmes are subtitled on TV, why can’t they do the same on the iPlayer? If the technology does not exist then why can’t they get someone to invent it?

And, don’t even get me started on their other products…

Jeremy Clarkson’s latest DVD? Unsubtitled. Every single Top Gear DVD ever? Unsubtitled.

I have written to the Beeb about this before but my complaint seems to be falling on deaf ears – haha – no, I didn’t laugh either…

I think for now, I am done complaining – I am sick and tired of writing emails to bigwig companies asking for better services only to be told that there’s no budget, no demand, or worse just to be ignored. And I know that if someone from the BBC explained to me why it is so rubbish, I just might see it from the Beeb’s point of view…

But for the time being, I am going to marvel at the fact that my bus has better subtitles than the BBC – this morning for example, scrolling text informed me the next bus stop was not in use… Granted, it’s not as entertaining as a subtitled iPlayer would be but for now, it’s all I have…

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Two's company, four's a great expense…

After a long year of waiting, Billy Elliot is finally being shown with subtitles this evening. When I found out about it, I was so excited.

I have actually already seen it twice before – but never with subtitles and, although the music is great, I’d really love to know what people are saying that has the audience either laughing or crying the whole way through.

I told London Aunt as I know that London Cousins 1 and 2 would both love to see it and suggested that I bought them tickets as an early Christmas present. And, what’s more, the website said that subtitled tickets were £25, which seemed very reasonable.

All good so far?

I thought so. So I rattled off an excited email to the box office peeps asking for four tickets and stating that I was the deaf one. Someone duly emailed me back and told me that my companion and I would get tickets for £25, but that the seats were in the stalls so I could see the captions and that additional tickets were £60. She said it would be cheaper to get a family ticket, which cost £152.50. ‘Cheaper than what?’ I thought… a weekend away? Two trips on the Eurostar?

OK, so I know that going to the theatre is not cheap, but I thought that the whole point of subtitled theatre was to make it accessible to all. The National Theatre manage OK – I went recently and you could see the subtitles from every seat. But apparently, to see Billy Elliot with subtitles, you either have to be very rich or have only one friend.

I wrote back and politely explained that I felt it was unfair that deaf people going to the theatre with their families should have to pay the price needing to sit in expensive seats to view the subtitles and hoped to appeal to her kind side… no chance – she simply commented on the fact I had made a typo in my email to her.

In fact, I don’t even know if it is the case that you need to sit in Premium seats to see the captions – Fab Friend is unsure as she has been before and didn’t get ripped off – but I do know that the box office lady wasn’t budging at offering me a more affordable option.

I thought about lying and making my cousin deaf for the night but I don’t like lying… I thought about arguing more, but to be honest I don’t think I would have got anywhere. So tonight, I am not going to see Billy Elliot – I am going home to eat salad and baked beans and watch crap telly…

*sniff

I will take London Cousins 1 & 2 later in the year for less money, without subtitles – it is, after all, their present… perhaps someone could send me the script…

Monday, 15 September 2008

Some sciencey stuff

Here we are, another weekend over, another week beginning and a scan of the day’s news – overlooking the bankruptcy and financial despair – has revealed something very interesting a bunch of Canadian scientists have been working on.

They carried out an experiment to look at why deaf people are still able to speak coherently, sometimes years after losing their hearing!
Me! Me! Me! Me!

Except after rum… ho hum!

Anyway, they recruited five middle-aged, and now profoundly deaf, adults and got them to repeat specific sounds while their lower jaws were pulled forwards by a small device attached to their teeth – to distort their speech.

Upon reading this article this morning, my first thought was, ‘Where on earth did they find the volunteers for this in the first place?’ But, it seems they did and, if there was money involved and I lived in Canada, who knows, I may have been up for it, too. Although I’m not sure they’d class me as deaf enough as I am still able to hear my own voice – well either it’s that or I have another voice in my head!

Now, where was I? Ah yes… what the science peeps discovered was that even though the volunteers were unable to hear what they were saying, they learnt to fix the errors in their pronunciation as they ran through the words 300 times. In fact, they learned as fast as a group of normal hearing people who did the same experiment.

Apparently they could correct their speech thanks to the adaptive power of the nerves and soft tissues in their vocal tract – these remember how they should feel when a word is pronounced correctly. So basically we remember not only what a word sounds like but what it feels like, too.

I often get asked how my speech is so good when my hearing is so bad and it’s quite nice to have the scientific explanation for this now. I remember going to an audition once and singing higher than I could hear – even I was a bit taken aback by this but it’s true – you learn how something feels.

And this got me thinking about how I manage to play the flute and in many ways I guess, it too is based on remembering how something feels. I know the body tension required to get higher notes and visualise them in my head and hey presto they come out. This took quite a lot of practising however and although the hours were silent to me, they weren’t to everyone else – and now they’re probably wishing that I lived in Canada, too!

Friday, 12 September 2008

This is your bank calling…

Hurrah! I’ve got that Friday feeling again! And, as usual I’ve got something to be thankful for apart from the impending weekend.

This week I have been especially thankful for my bank’s fraud department. You see I got a text from my Pa this week saying, ‘Call bank on this number – they say it’s urgent and about fraud.’

Now, as you know, I don’t normally make phone calls, but the volume on my Pinkberry is quite astounding and the thought that someone was plundering my account was enough to make me dial and hope for the best.

‘’allo,’ said a voice at the other end. ‘pnfa aaah ooheiii ghiaaah, please’

Ummmmmm…

While thinking, ‘Oh crap,’ I took a deep breath and quite simply said, ‘I’m hard of hearing, I have had a call about fraud on my account and I was hoping I could sort it out on the phone as I can’t get to the bank right now.’

‘OooooooooKKKKKKKKKK,’ a voice replied, loud and clear as a bell. ‘Lee-eeet meeeeeee haaaaa-aaaave yoooooo-oour acccoooouuunt nummmmmmmmber pleeee-aaaaase.’

WOW!

Seriously, this guy was good – he slowed down and shouted so loudly that every other bank customer calling that centre could probably hear him and quite a few more besides. But most importantly, I could hear him.

Anyway, it transpired that there had been some unusual activity on my card and was I by any chance in the Dominican Republic?

‘Ha! I wish,’ I replied before realising that this probably wasn’t the time for jokes and informing him that I was not, had never, and had no plans to visit the Dominican Republic – particularly as they seem to be having a few weather problems right now.

Teehee, ahem hmmm… again not the time for jokes…

It then transpired that someone was in the Dominican Republic with a clone of my bank card have a jolly good time with it! But thanks to the vigilance of the fraud peeps this was cut a lot shorter than the thieving little gits might have hoped for.

Indeed, I have spoken to lots of people since and it seems I got off lightly with the amount just within three figures… one of my friends had a four figure sum swiped from under her nose, and The Writer had quite a large amount spent on carpets in Tunisia. It seems the thieves have far more exotic ideas about what to do with our money than we do!

I cannot, as yet, say I am thankful that I got the money back, as I haven’t. Let’s hope I’ll be able to be thankful for that next Friday…

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Talking buses

Every day there are two buses that I can take to and from work. As I mentioned in Subtitled Travel (July 08) one of those buses now has a shrill talking voice announcing the next stop, accompanied by some rather nifty subtitles. And, I discovered on my way home from work yesterday that the other bus is at it now, too.

But this one really freaked me out and here’s why…

As a teenager I used to have to go for fairly regular hearing tests on account of my every decreasing hearing. This involved being shut in a soundproof room the size of a small cupboard and having headphones clamped to my head, which then emitted a series of sounds to which I had to respond to by pressing a button.

I used to hate these tests – not even the promise of missing the afternoon of school was enough to want to make me go and there were often tears of frustration as my tinnitus kicked in, I failed to hear any of the beeps and I was told yet again that my hearing was going. They’d then pack me off with my newly-adjusted hearing aids, which were always so loud I fell over.

Now, because my ability to understand speech is one of the main problems that I have (consonants are pretty unheard of these days), I used to have to do a word test, which involved sitting on the most uncomfortable chair opposite a giant speaker out of which a voice came spouting words, which I then had to repeat back. You could get up to three points for each word if you got the beginning, middle and end sounds correct.

Ha!

So the word test went something like this:

Word list one
Book… took… look… hive… thrive…five… duck… luck… truck…

I was terrible at these tests and most of the time my responses sounded like a caveman’s alphabet. Unsurprisingly too, the last words in the above list were my favourite as I always managed to hear an ‘f’ really clearly at the beginning of every single one. It was a fantastic way to let off steam.

Now, I haven’t had one of these word tests in a really long time – I had buried them in the back of my mind labelled ‘Unpleasant Experiences Not To Be Repeated’ along with double maths at school and the performance section of my degree! I had almost completely forgotten about the taunting voice of the word test woman

until yesterday…

…when she started talking on my bus. I actually broke into a cold sweat when the bus number and location were announced – all these memories came flooding back and at every single bus stop I half expected her to blurt out, ‘luck… tuck… duck’

Aarrrrrrgh!

I walked to work this morning…

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Dans Le Noir

On a rare quiet evening in the other night I decided to watch Freaky Eaters – a BBC programme that sorts out eating disorders of a less common kind. This particular episode featured a BBC DJ who was so afraid of fruit and veg that he couldn’t even say the words.

It was astonishing, but his cheekiness and determination, which eventually saw him not only cooking but eating a vegetable-laden meal, were incredibly endearing.

One of the treatments that his psychologist tried on him was taking him to a restaurant called Dans Le Noir, which is in Clerkenwell Green. The name translates literally as ‘In the dark’ and that’s exactly where you eat! I think the thinking behind it was that if this guy couldn’t see what he was eating, then he wouldn’t be able to freak out about it and might actually enjoy it. And that was exactly what happened. He even said something nice about the Savoy cabbage!

The idea behind the restaurant however, was not to cure freaky eaters but to instead give people some idea what it’s like to be blind – a concept that dates back to the 18th century when charitable foundations organised dinners in the dark to promote awareness about blindness.

The waiting staff at Dans Le Noir are all visually impaired and you are guided into the dark dining room by them. They actually have the advantage of knowing their way around the restaurant and the tables are turned from their experience in the outside world.

I do think this is a brilliant concept actually and if I wasn’t deaf, I would deafinitely be up for a visit. As it is, I think a visit there would be downright disasterous. Apart from for all the obvious reasons being that I wouldn’t be able to hear anything, I have an incredible fear of the absolute dark.

I can do nearly dark, street lit dark, eyes-will-get-used-to-it-in-five-minutes dark, but just not absolute dark. On the few occasions I have been faced with it, I have totally freaked out and found light again as quickly as possible.

Losing my sight has always been my biggest fear. When I was 16 and going steadily deafer, I used to pray every night that I would never go blind, too.

Well, perhaps I should face that fear and try out Dans Le Noir and see what it’s seeing nothing and hearing very little – it could be interesting to see, if without sight, my hearing improves…

Perhaps I’ll ask Fab Friend and we can try it out together.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Visitor from t'norf

I had the pleasure of a wonderful dinner with Nottnum Cousin 2 the other evening. He’s a bar manager don’t you know for a posh hotel oop norf and was down at a London to talk about wine. It was lovely to see him as I rarely do usually – in fact I have never ever met him in London before – if I am going to terrorise him, it’s on his own turf.

Anyway off we went out for a drink, or three in my case, and every so often I had to ask him to repeat what he was saying about five times. First of all he said Ch’got to me when my meal arrived. ‘Um,’ I replied, looking at him like a rabbit caught in headlights. ‘Ch’got,’ he repeated.
‘Um, what?’ I replied.
So he slowed it down, ‘Ch Got’
‘Aaaaah,’ I said, ‘veggie curry.’

Halfway through the meal and probably with a mouthful of veggie curry – which had banana and snow peas in and was quite delicious – I asked him how his dad was – my Fab Uncle who is going to be on TV soon.
‘Zaying,’ he said to me.
‘Here we go again,’ I thought to myself. ‘In English please,’ I said instead.
By this time he was finding all this very funny and reverted to the Queen’s English so that we might actually hold a conversation.

Intrigued by this whole new, and unintelligible, language he seemed to be speaking, I emailed him the next day to ask him for more strange colloquialisms so that I could include them on this blog. He gave me one more – Art Twoker, which allegedly means beautiful girl – but I am unsure about this as both Nottnum Cousin 1 and 2 have a mean old habit of pulling my leg quite a lot.

Did you know that Nottnum Cousin 1 managed to convince me that he was in fact born the year after me, not in the same year. I tried my hardest not to fall for that one but in the end he was so convincing I rang my Pa to ask him if I had really got it wrong for 27 whole years. Cue, my whole family realising just how deafinitely blonde I really am.

So, if anyone knows if Art Twoker really does mean a beautiful girl in Nottinghamshire-ese please can they let me know? That way I can email Nottnum Cousin 2 and demand to know why he’s never called me that before!

Monday, 8 September 2008

Lashings of lycra

Swiss Boy was visiting this weekend – he’d been in the country for important drug business and I met up with him yesterday for a spot of gentle sightseeing.

We started at the Tate Modern – where I would happily live, if it was possible – and ambled our way from room to room taking in amazing works from Monet and Miró to Matisse and Mondrian – plus a whole lot of other artists whose names did not begin with M.

Perhaps my favourite, and it has been for some time, is The Snail by Matisse, which was created in 1953. I love it because it was Matisse’s last work before he died in 1954 – and although he had cancer and probably wasn’t feeling too great, he still carried on.

OK, so he didn’t paint much anymore – he had people paint paper, which he then cut out and arranged on a massive board – but the point is, he didn’t just give up when he couldn’t do what he wanted… he found another way to do it. Quite inspirational I thought.

After the Tate Modern, we crossed the river to carry out some important chocolate raisin-buying duties that Swiss Boy had to fulfil for my First Ever Friend, who just happens to be his sister.

As we walked over the Millennium Bridge, I was suddenly aware that I couldn’t hear Swiss Boy talking anymore as there was incredible din going on right above my head. Looking up, there were two helicopters hovering. They were so loud that I was concerned I might fall over.

Anyway, once we got to the other side, the reason became apparent – the Tour of Britain was doing its London section. People lined the streets awaiting the cyclists, men with camera lenses as long as my arm crouched poised ready to snap, snap away and I have to say I got quite excited.

I’m not what you would call a cycling fan but the atmosphere was great – so we waited by a cordon for the pack to appear. Six police bikes later, they came in a whoosh of vibrant lycra. I thought the noise was amazing – but remember I am deaf. It sounded like a soft whirring noise and I found it slightly hypnotic.

It turned out that we had stumbled on some sort of circuit so we were able to see them whirr by not once but four times and each time is was equally thrilling. But why hadn’t I heard of the Tour of Britain before? The Tour de France gets massive publicity – hell it even had a section in the UK.

I’m off to do some research about this racey thing and see where I can next catch a glimpse of the lashings of lycra I saw yesterday…

Friday, 5 September 2008

A pain in the neck

Now, as usual on a Friday, I find things to be thankful for…
Today I woke up and it really hurts to turn my head to the right – so, in my haze of neck pain, I am thankful that I can still move my head to the left.

It will definitely make lip reading interesting – anyone on my right won’t have a cat in hells chance of getting themselves heard, and anyone on my left will have a wonderful picture of me gurning at them in the effort to make my head actually move.

Now, of all the pains to have, neck pain worries me the most. The neck is quite important really – it’s the connecting bit between the head and the body – without we are, quite simply screwed. As well as impairing my hearing further, neck pain also impairs my sight – so walking to work this morning I had to hope that nothing was coming from the right as I couldn’t turn my head to look or hear either!

Actually that reminds me, I am also thankful to be alive! I had a very near miss with a motorbike the other day. It was so close in fact that the woman behind me actually screamed! How embarrassing for her!

There I was at Hyde Park Corner, walking home as I often do. The lights turned red, the green man started his flashing and I stepped out… into the path of a very large courier bike. He swerved, I stepped back and watched as he nearly crashed into a group of cyclists! There was such a mass tutting at him from the crowd behind me waiting to cross that even I heard them.

The screaming woman by this point was clutching her chest and had gone white and looked such a sight that I burst out laughing. An odd reaction I know, but I am so used to nearly being run over that it is almost normal for me. Hmmm, now is that something to be thankful for… or something to worry about?

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Your daily dose of Deafinitely?

As well as talking about weird recipes with NikNak the other night, we also talked about Deafinitely Girly – NikNak is one of my dedicated readers and if I am mentioning them, then Pompey-Revision-And-Onion-Soup mate deafinitely deserves a mention… and everyone else for that matter.

Some of you may already know but NikNak is a hotshot in the PR world – she has her own successful company and so she was letting me know how I could get Deafinitely Girly so big that I could take over the world! Well, if George Bush can have a shot at it, so can I!

Anyway, she suggested doing a mailout every day once my update was online so that readers got a nice unobtrusive email in their inbox from Deafinitely Girly telling them to check out the blog – and I rather liked this idea.

So, I have forsaken about ranting about Billy Elliot, praising Jessica Fellowes and finally telling the story of the Tabasco Sauce Incident to ask you to join my mailing list! And also to let anyone else you know who would like a Deafinitely Girly Daily Dose in their inbox to email me, too.

For want of sounding like a dodgy TV advert, it couldn’t be simpler, just copy and paste deafinitelygirly@googlemail.com into an email and wing it off to me.

Now, I am going to sit and wait nervously and wonder if I do have any readers after all!

*nervous chuckle

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Everything tastes supreme with Heinz Salad Cream

I’m not a great believer of adverts – I rarely see things on TV and think, ‘Oooh must buy that immediately.’ But, if there’s one advertising slogan I do believe, it’s ‘Everything tastes supreme with Heinz Salad Cream’. Because it really is true!

So great is my love for this food stuff that I always have a reserve bottle tucked away, just in case I run out, and I used to keep a bottle at work too, but somebody stole it!

Now, as you may already know, Shakira-Shakira was always very fond of trying out my new salad cream combinations when we lived together, and a particularly nice one that I discovered was mixing it with marmite and using it as a dip for oatcakes and crudités. Deeelicious!

So, it was this rather wonderful dip that we took to NikNak’s flat for pre-night out drinks and nibbles. The Writer and Fab Friend were also there and we were all tucking in to the nibbly feast. NikNak dived in and tried my wonderful dip and before we knew it she was gesticulating wildly and pulling faces worth of Shakira-Shakira’s Ma’s facial aerobics. In short, I don’t think she liked it that much.

So anyway, last night I went to dinner with NikNak and Country Boy and it was lovely. She cooked baked fish with mozzarella, Parmesan and cherry tomatoes, which make a very good combination. We got chatting about food combinations and Country Boy got to hear about NikNak and the marmite and Salad Cream incident. Intrigued he asked me what else I liked and I told him enthusiastically about how well salad cream went with marmite on toast, hot French bread and added to sweetcorn and baked beans. I also mentioned my love of adding marmalade to sausages and also to marmite on toast. At the end of the evening I invited them to dinner the following week – the look on their faces said it all!

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Bother boo

Due to a technical fault, Deafinitely Girly can’t post today!
But please hit on her tomorrow…
It will make her smile!

Monday, 1 September 2008

Ver-*sigh

Deafinitely Girly is almost too embarrassed to write today’s post. Remember the post I did on being afraid to say words in case I mispronounced them? (see Words Aren't All I Have – April 08)

Now, do you also remember that I visited Versailles recently? Well ,it turns out that my way of saying Versailles is different from the whole World’s way of saying it and I never realised.

So let’s start at the beginning. I tottered off home this weekend to see the Rents with London Aunt and London Cousins. It was excellent fun – we cycled round the lake, watched a canal boat run aground and I ripped my hands to shreds on some wooden monkey bars.

I also told Ma and Pa about my weekend in France. They listened and eventually after the 20th time I said the word Versailles, Ma could clearly stand it no longer and corrected me.

Apparently the ‘lles’ are silent so you just say Ver-sigh…

WHY DID I NOT KNOW THIS? And that means that all the people inbetween visiting Versigh and seeing the Rents must have thought I was a fruit loop!

My Ma said initially that she thought I was joking when I said it as Versailles but once I had said it repeatedly to her without any hint of laughter, she realised I just hadn’t heard it right – to be fair, I hadn’t heard it at all – you see, the letters ‘L’ and ‘S’ are not only hard to lipread, they are hard to hear, too.

So, to all those people who have heard me talking about the non-existent Palace of Versaaaaiiiilllllles, sorry about that – I wasn’t taking the piss, I genuinely thought that as those letters were there, they weren’t silent.

I guess in a way it’s ironic that the word Versailles has so many useless letters – the palace itself is too big to be seen in one day, the grounds are so big, you could walk all day and not hit the boundary fence, and my embarrassment is so big, it will take a long, long time before I utter its name again.

Deaf Girly and subitled Mamma Mia: Here we go again

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