Monday, 30 June 2008

Good morning, good morning

Mondays are great aren’t they? Today, the sun is shining and even my bus journey got me into work brighter and earlier than usual.

There are, as ever, many reasons for my morning optimism but one of the reasons I am smiling even at this ungodly hour, is that I finally got to watch Sex & The City with subtitles…
and, there may have been Minstrels!

What can I say, it was my kind of movie – I laughed so hard I cried, I cried so hard I laughed and, while it wasn’t the best film I have ever seen and there was a heck of a lot of product placement – it was like meeting up with old friends and having an amazing heart to heart.

Was it worth the wait? Absolutely!
Some things just are…

Friday, 27 June 2008

On my soapbox I stand...

Oh dear, there appears to be a bugbear that just won’t leave me alone at the moment. Everywhere I turn I am irked by it and it’s doing my head in. I posted about it yesterday in terms of TV but today it’s DVDs.

HMV has got a massive sale on at the moment and so I dashed in there hoping that there would be something nice that was cheap and would fit in with my gooey, chick-flick taste. There was plenty, but then two DVDs caught my eye: one with Jeremy Clarkson talking about cars (something terribly endearing about him, don’t you think?), and the film Withnail And I. Immediately I wanted them both – and they were super cheap.

I was especially excited about the latter as it is London Aunt’s favourite movie and, when I was 16, I promised never to watch it with anyone but her… and I still haven’t. I’m seeing her today so I thought I’d buy it as a treat.

But…

*squeak of rage

There are no subtitles!

On either of them actually, but now that Top Gear is back on TV I can cope without the DVD of JC.

Not sure if I should admit to this, but I once wrote to a DVD distribution company asking them why their DVD box sets of Dr Quinn Medicine Woman were not subtitled. They informed me it was an extra cost and there was no demand!

No demand?

Did they personally write to every deaf person in the world and ask if them if they were a fan? OK, in all honesty, if they had have done that, there would probably turned out to be no demand – but what about me?

So what if I have such bad taste in TV and films that there is no demand to spend a little more cash adding subtitles – I demand it. Why do I have to go with the masses and watch the mainstream, high demand films when episodes of Rainbow (you try and lipread Zippy) and old series of My Family – neither of which are subtitled – are what keep me entertained.

There’s one problem with today’s rant – it totally ruins my street cred!
Ho-hum…
After all, I am meant to be discussing the merits of art-house flicks over strong espressos in street caf├ęs, not sitting at home, eating Hobnobs and watching season 2 of Dawson’s Creek with French subtitles because it didn’t have English ones.

And that is where, rather bizarrely, the French and the Italians, and even the Spanish save me – with foreign movies. I’ve seen all manner of them, from BonBon El Pero – a shaggy dog story on varying levels, to All About My Mother (my first foreign movie with London Aunt and Uncle at The Gate) and they are always subtitled!
It means that when people start talking about movies on an intelligent level I can join in. Then I kiss them goodbye and tuck myself up in bed with a nice subtitled episode of Sex & The City.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Let's go to the movies

It’s true, finally! Sex & the City has come to London with subtitles and I am very excited! Finally I will get to stuff my face with Minstrels and cry into my popcorn as the plot unfolds. But in the midst of all this mad excitement I can’t help feeling a little bit disappointed that as usual I am having to make do with the delayed hype and, that while everyone else rides on the crest of the ‘hype’ wave, I’m paddling along behind.

This is true in a lot of things in my life especially when someone announces good news. The first I know of it is the squeals of excitement as I have usually missed half of it as I wasn’t tuned in to begin with and the premature screaming from someone else obscured the last bit.

I then spend the next five minutes trying to find someone calm enough to tell me what on earth is going on but by then, I can’t squeal with excitement as everyone else has calmed down. For this reason, I feel a bit like an echo.

Another time I suffer from delayed hype is watching the news, or Big Brother, or any live show on TV – the subtitles are slower than a tanked-up snail and more often than not wholly inaccurate, too. I can only imagine what a nightmare it is watching TV with me.

Take the other day, Fab Friend was in the studio audience of Graham Norton so I tuned in with Friend-Who-Knows-Big-Words to watch. Our evening went something like this – Dame Edna, Graham’s guest, made a joke, Friend-Who-Knows-Big-Words laughed. Two minutes later the subtitles caught up and didn’t make any sense. Friend-Who-Knows-Big-Words had to tell me the joke, I laughed. And so it went on…

*sigh

And then, what do you know – the total opposite happens, usually on game shows. Old-Housemate-Who-Now-Lives-In-Cornwall used to refuse point blank to watch The Weakest Link with me if the subtitles were on as the answers were usually up before the question had even been asked and it was my turn to be ahead of the game for once.

But, this as it turns out, is just as lonely as paddling along behind the crest as no one wants to join you. I wonder how it’s possible to create robots that can iron and space rockets to take you to, um, Space, but not possible to create subtitles that allow me to ride the crest – to join in the hype, not be forced either in front or behind.

There must be someone I can write and complain to – I’m off to find out.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Gigging girly

Today Deafinitely Girly has very bad hearing, although this is not why her post is late…

Last night I went to a gig where there was loud music played by cute boys with bad hair, people jumping and beer spilling in vast quantities. There may also have been rum… ho-hum

I did the responsible (and prematurely middle-aged) thing and dutifully wore earplugs throughout, to protect what little hearing I have left, and bopped about with the best of them. But they didn’t work and today everything sounds a bit flat and a lot quieter. Poor fragile ears…

*sniff

But it really was great, and I have to admit I was sceptical. After all, let’s not forget that the last gig I went to, not including the lovely Jose Gonzalez, was
Steps – in 2001 – when I was old enough to know better.

I remember the very first pop concert I ever went to was Boyzone at Cardiff Arena – I went with Best Friend and Girly with Squeaky Voice and I had no idea what to expect. I wasn’t expecting every single teenage girl in the place to scream the whole way through. Collectively I could hear them and I could also lipread them – they looked like a mass gathering of The Scream painting by Edvard Munch and not a whole lot prettier either as Shockwaves wet-look gel was very much in fashion at that time.

I wore earplugs to that too, but I was desperate to know how loud it really was so I took them out... and fell over – as I often do when I hear loud noises. I was so mortified that I have never removed my earplugs at a concert again just in case there’s a repeat. Had I done it last night, I would have been nicely Carling covered and probably jumped on.

Climbing Friend, who booked the tickets, took precautions anyway and ensured I had guys flanking me at all times to catch me if I fell… oh such a hard life I lead.
There were some quite cute ones there too, including Jason, Joe, Alex and Jack to name but a few.

*blush

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Glasses are the new hearing aids

Last night on my way home from work I got something in my eye so took off my glasses to try and get it out. And what a shock I got – I really am quite blind!

You see, I rarely spend a minute of the day without my contact lenses in or glasses on – I often sleep in the latter and very occasionally drunkenly pass out in the former.

I went into hospital once for an endoscopy and begged the consultant to let me keep my glasses on – I explained that without them I feel twice as deaf and he was very understanding. And, it meant that when I came round from the sedative speaking utter rubbish, I could at least see.

Sometimes I wonder what on earth I was doing when God was handing out the senses. It seemed I queued perfectly well for the smell, touch and taste senses and then maybe I got distracted by the ‘Have Impeccable And Expensive Taste In Handbags’ queue and forgot to get the sight and hearing until the last minute – when all the good ones were taken.

Although hearing aids benefit lots of people, they’re not like glasses – they don’t make things perfect. Rather annoyingly they don’t even help me a little bit, they just make me fall over because everything is loud. So in a way I guess my glasses are my hearing aids.

Put them on and I can lipread

Take them off… lips? What lips? I can’t even see faces!

At the moment my glasses are ancient clear-rimmed things that have survived a serious car accident and being packed up in tent… but they are not pink.

I have always wanted pink hearing aids... so I’m off to Specsavers at lunch to get some!

Monday, 23 June 2008

An ostrich went what?

I’ve still got that Friday feeling this morning, possible because I had a lovely relaxing weekend in the country with my Ma, Pa and French Aunt. It was great – there was champagne and great food and lots of relaxing and catching up.

French Aunt is fab but she lives quite far away – hopefully I will make the trip to see her soon…

*Sniff


Anyway, as you know, my Ma is also a bit aurally challenged and she’s also a Very Important Head Teacher. As well as being in charge of lots of little children and bigger people who are staff, she has a class to teach, too.

And, last week it was Grandparents day, where the children invite theirs in to see how brilliant they all are and to evoke lots of aaaaaahs and oooooohs as they showed off their reading skills.

For this occasion my Ma had taught her class a song with actions to sing to them. I’d never heard of it but apparently it’s called ‘Once An Austrian Went Yodelling’ and along the way he meets all sorts of things and people that get in his way.

Ma had taught this to her class with a CD and, as they all have great hearing, she didn’t print off the words. But for the concert she wanted the music teacher to play so they had a quick rehearsal.

So away they sang when suddenly the music teacher stopped and said…

‘What did you say this song was called?’

‘Once An Austrian Went Yodelling,’ my Ma replied.

‘I thought so,’ said the music teacher. ‘It’s just I wondered why your entire class was singing, “Once An Ostrich Went Yodelling”, that’s all.’

With that, my Ma fell about laughing doing the snorting sneezing thing that she does so well.

So a new song was born…

Once an Ostrich went yodelling
On a mountain so high
When he met with an avalanche
Interrupting his cry…

And, I guess to a 6 year old with an active imagination, this would be perfectly feasible.

Friday, 20 June 2008

SATC update

Fab Friend nearly had a heart attack yesterday morning when an email from Your Local Cinema announced that Sex & The City was finally subtitled.
With quivering fingers she clicked open the email and scrolled down, the anticipation causing her to squeak (or so I am told).

And there it was, in big bold letters, the subtitled London showing of Sex & The City is in…

…the Odeon in South Woodford on Tuesday 24th June.

Now, I pride myself on knowing where pretty much anything is (I secretly harbour dreams of passing The Knowledge exam but the book is very expensive), but where the heck is South Woodford?

I’ve checked, on a giant map, the sort needed to show anywhere outside zone 3 and, in short, it is flipping miles away.

*Sniff!

Am I ever going to get to stuff my face with those gigantic bags of Minstrels and watch Carrie on the big screen?

Now, when I woke up this morning I leapt out of bed happy that it was Friday, pleased that the sun was shining and the birds were probably singing, and even more glad that I didn’t have a hangover from FF’s birthday celebrations last night…

But this cinema business is threatening my good mood…

To counteract this, I have a bag of minstrels on my desk and am humming the tune to SATC rather badly – oh how my colleagues must love me…

And at lunch time I’m going to practise my 'Carrie run' in skyscraper heels and hope I bump into my own Mr Big and, that when I fall in Dior, someone else pays the bill

Dum-da-da-da-dum-dum-dum

Da-da-da-da…

Thursday, 19 June 2008

You drive me cra-a-azy...

It’s the ‘O2 drive me crazy’ time of year again as my phone contract comes up for renewal…

Don’t get me wrong, I love O2 and they have been very good to me over the years, giving me hundreds of free text messages and generally looking past my emotional outbursts to see what they can do to help me.

When I can get their attention that is.

Early last year I managed to break two phones in two months, not their fault admittedly, but what was their fault was that there was no reliable email service that I could use to sort out the replacement. So I was left having the weirdest phone conversations with some poor man with an accent I couldn’t understand. This one time I burst into tears of frustration and put the phone down after having spent most of my lunch hour on hold in the first place.

Then, last June my phone died of old age – for some reason all my phones seem to have the life-expectancy of a daddy long-legs – and so I was faced with the usual predicament of ritual humiliation by phone call or living with a crap mobile.

So I called O2 and got some poor guy I couldn’t understand. I explained I was deaf and he said ‘You go to shop and they help you.’ Really? I thought. Go to an O2 shop, even though I have an online contract. So I did, and they were amazing. They called O2 online on my behalf, spend hours on the phone to them, and then got told they couldn’t order the phone for me as they were not me!

ARRRRGGGGH!

Eventually, as tears of frustration once again threatened to flow quicker than the Thames at high tide, the manager took me out the back of the shop put the phone on speaker phone and mouthed everything that was said. Except, I couldn’t negotiate my contract and so ended up paying double what I used to for half the amount of privileges. This made me mad...

With this madness fuelling my fingers, I wrote a slightly acidic letter to every email address I could find on the O2 corporate website. Eventually this nice lady wrote to me and asked me what was making me so cross. So I politely told her and she politely wrote back and fixed it all!

Hurrah!

Except now, one year on, my lovely pink phone is on its last legs – it limps through the day before needing to be charged again and on the rare occasions I use it for making calls, it makes me sound like a robot with a 40-a-day smoking habit.

So this week, I decided to write to the nice lady who had reassured me that she would always be on email to help me…

No reply…

*Sniff

Must I spend the whole of my lunch hour for the next three weeks on the phone in a fruitless attempt to get a new mobile? I think not…

So this afternoon I am going to flipping well write to every email address on the O2 corporate website again and hope there’s another nice lady, or even better, a cute man, who can give me what I want…

…after all, it’s not like I’m asking for much, just acceptable customer services for deaf people and…

a custom-built pink iPhone!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Pato sandwich please

It’s Fab Friend’s birthday today, she’s perpetually 21 you know. How clever is that.

Something else you should know about Fab Friend is that she is off on an adventure soon to Peru – all by herself – so she’s learning Spanish. Many people with lots of hearing are rubbish at learning languages but, as you already know, Fab Friend is like me, except she actually wears her hearing aids.

Anyway, in the pub the other night she was spouting all these Spanish words, and, as far as my sub-standard ears could tell, her pronunciation was fantastic. I was intrigued to know how she had done all this and she let me know her secret…

…the most bizarre CD-rom tutorial on earth. It uses image association with words, so when learning the words Gatto, which is a cat, it tells you to imagine a cat eating cake. And for Perro, which is dog, it tells you to imagine a pirouetting dog! I jest you not, and what’s more remarkable is it really does work. And I know this because Fab Friend told me a good few days ago and I remember it all!

She also taught me Pato, which is duck and you have to imagine you are patting a duck on the head. Now, I met Friend-Who-Knows-Big-Words for a drink yesterday, and she is fluent in Spanish. I was telling her all this and she warned me, while sniggering into her Jamaican beer can, that Pato is also slang for homosexual!

Must warn Fab Friend! Don’t want her in some dark Peruvian Bar, asking for a duck sandwich and being enveloped into a gay threesome by two guys hissing enthusiastically – this is apparently the South American version of wolf whistling – wearing little more than PVC thongs.

But back to those words, and perhaps the best one is how to remember the word for pretty, which is bonito… you have to visualize a bonny toe!

Hahahahahhaha

Ahem, sorry but it still makes me chuckle and I think I am going to call my toes that from now on.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Shall we dance?

I love music and often dance with the kind of enthusiasm reserved for discovering you’ve won the lottery or that Brad Pitt wants your phone number. At uni, old-housemate-who-now-lives-in-Cornwall used to describe my movement to music as ‘Breakdancing’. Where there was music and me dancing, something always used to get broken.

But as I’ve got older and perhaps a teeny bit more deaf(er) I’ve become more sedate and the only things likely to get broken are at hip level as housemate has taught me the art of Shakira-style hip shaking.

I’ve also become less able to dance to things I don’t know, perhaps because the beat is less clear, or because dancing always feels better if you can at least belt out the chorus, even if the words are wrong, with the best of them.

Take last weekend when I went to a house party. It was a very civilised affair, there was a buffet, card tricks in the front room and in the back room, which was apparently the man of the house’s mid-life crisis room, there was dancing.

Ooh great, I thought to myself. Maybe they’ll play some Shakira and I can get people hip-breaking (I was the youngest person there!). Cue, The Beach Boys, who I guess were floor fillers from ooh God only knows…

This did not please me as I don’t know a single Beach Boys song and, because when dancing, I rely on familiar beats. As a result, this led me to demonstrate the dancing aptitude of a newborn foal born to a drug-dependant mare.

I wonder, when I am old enough to have a mid-life crisis room, or more to the point, rich enough to afford a spare room to have a mid-life crisis in, if I will throw parties with buffets, card tricks and dancing? I hope so – old-housemate-who-now-lives-in-Cornwall would most definitely be invited as she was also a fan of that classic, hit-producing, sensational band…. Um…
Steps.

And, at least we would have plenty of room to breakdance, as I doubt anyone else would turn up!

Monday, 16 June 2008

Starstruck Saturday

I hate total silence, it doesn’t suit me and sometimes I think it’s a frightening prophesy of what my life could be like one day. This goes for all kinds of silence, be it in my flat, my car or even, in a conversation.

The latter often sees me jibber-jabbering away to fill the air space, often being able to talk endless rubbish for hours…
Gosh, do you think I could be Prime Minister?

So, this rather unfortunate crap-talking trait emerged at the weekend and I am still cringing now. In fact, driving back from Gloucestershire last night saw me slapping my forehead whenever I remembered it, which got me some very odd looks off a cute boy in the adjacent car when we were stuck in a traffic jam. Dammit, am I ever going to get a date?

So there I was with Jenny M wandering around the local farmers’ market when I saw that Katie Fforde was signing books.

*Gasp

She’s one of my favourite authors you see, and right this minute I am devouring her latest book at breakneck speed. Trying to be cool, I dragged Jenny M to the area where the signing was taking place and casually loitered, wondering what the heck to do.

And then, as if by some hideous magic trick, I suddenly heard myself saying hello to Katie Fforde. It took me about five seconds to realize that I had bounded up to her like an enthusiastic golden Labrador puppy and she was looking at me trying to work out if she knew me or not.

Quicker than you can say, ‘I’m a scary stalker!’ I began to jabber and, this is no joke, I think I averaged about 60 words a second in which time I managed to tell her at least three times that I loved her book. In all, I think I allowed her about one second to get any sort of word in, and I am still not quite sure what that was.

I was so completely starstruck that even my pupils were star-shaped, which genuinely shocked me as I had always, perhaps rather foolishly, imagined that if I did meet someone I admired I would at least be able to hold a coherent conversation.

Evidently not…

So, in the light of this embarrassing mishap, I am going to learn to savour silences, to nod sagely in conversations instead of cracking all the jokes, and cover my mouth with masking tape whenever I am in Stroud, in case I ever meet poor Katie Fforde again!

Friday, 13 June 2008

The joy of text...

Did you know, there’s more chance of me becoming the next presenter of Top Gear than there is of you seeing me chatting on my phone… *sigh

Don’t get me wrong, I love my phone – it is pink after all, albeit with a rather big scratch on the screen. *sniff

I can often be spotted with my phone in my hand, when I am not rummaging in one of my bottomless handbags looking for it – convinced that I’ve lost it and feeling quite short of breath about this prospect. But it really is just for texting purposes – rarely do I make phone calls. And this suits me fine, as I am quite adept at texting.

The other day I was tap-tap-tapping away on the bus when a tourist with an enormous backpack, said to me in a foreign twang, ‘Are you texting?’ I nodded and he looked shocked, adding, ‘Gee, you are one fast texter.’

And I guess I am quite speedy, although I’m not going in for any world records any time soon. I’ve discovered there’s a Kiwi called Elliot Nicholls who can text a 160-character message blindfolded in 45 seconds. Nimble-fingered Elliot must be a hit with the ladies, for erm… being able to organise a date quickly and efficiently by text message.

So, back to the phone – as I said I use it mainly for texting and when it rings I often, quite bizarrely, feel very afraid. I hate not being able to hear what people are saying at the other end. It makes my face burn and go bright red, and I have the most amazing reflex that causes me to hit the hang-up button often mid-conversation.

Rude? Who cares!

But there is one person I never feel afraid about talking to, and that’s my friend The Writer. The first time I spoke to her, I hung up at the end, not in the middle, realising that I hadn’t said pardon for our whole conversation. She spoke so clearly and each word was enunciated so well that I completely forgot I was deaf.

When I saw her later that week, I told her how wonderful it was! That was when she confessed that as well as speaking the Queen’s English very clearly, she was also shouting very loudly.

So that means, whenever The Writer calls me, not only can I hear her, but the whole of the City of London can, too. You know what, she only works around the corner from me… perhaps we can get by without using the phone at all and just shout from our computers!

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Read-along radio

My pa emailed me other day about a fantastic new thing that’s been invented in America…

Subtitled radio!

Hurrah, I can finally ‘listen’ to the Archers!

*Gasp, did I just say that out loud?

(Mental note to self… must stop acting so prematurely middle aged)

Apparently National Public Radio in America is piloting the use of subtitles on digital radios and it was reported on Radio 4’s You and Yours programme. With enthusiasm I went on to their website to find out more, except you can only listen to the programme online, there is no transcript! GAH!

Seriously though, subtitled radio could potentially be amazing, although I think it would have its drawbacks, too.

Just imagine, there I am, zooming up the M1 in my beautiful Peugeot, Boo, when a traffic report comes on. As the M1 is often a perpetual car park I read along with interest, forgetting somehow that I am in charge of a fast-moving vehicle. Then…

SMASH!

Ooops, there’s the traffic jam I just read about!

Okay, so maybe driving and subtitled radio are not the best combination, and I also wonder how much I would actually use it. I mean, the whole point of radio is that you switch it on and potter about, getting on with making coffee, or breakfast, or weeding the garden. How many people, not counting those in the pre-WW2 era, actually sit around the radio to listen to it?

Would it just be like TV but without the pictures?
I am going to remain optimistic and open-minded about the idea, and hope that when it does come out, they create a pink subtitled radio to go with my pink bionic ears… perhaps I should get pink glasses, too.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Can you hear a secret?

I have exciting news – except it’s a secret! But I am sure you will find out in a later blog… if you keep reading.

I’m not very good at hearing secrets, or keeping them sometimes either

*blush

If there’s gossip going around it always misses me. Those furtive, hushed whispers aren’t suited to my aurally-challenged self and so, I am often found floating around on a cloud of ignorance… or – as I prefer to call it – innocence!

I would LOVE to be one of those people who sit on the bus, not-so-subtly listening in to other people’s conversations. And it's not just on the bus, it’s happening everywhere you look. Take the other day, there we all were, sat in the park, discussing boys and topping up our tans and in the process, we were entertaining three nearby couples who were all blatantly listening in!

I think this lack of real-life gossip is why I enjoy reading chick lit so much. I once wrote to one of my favourite authors, Katie Fforde, to tell her I loved her writing. It’s because when I read her books, I feel totally included in the everyday goings on. I ‘hear’ all the conversations between the characters, even the whispers, and I always have the full picture, which is something of a rarity in real life.

She, rather wonderfully, wrote back and said that a deaf friend of hers once told her that people will always make the effort to tell a deaf person when a building is burning down, but will rarely ensure they have heard their secrets.

In reality, I have to be content in the knowledge that people do tell me the important things and, that I have the wonderful skill of lipreading. So while I couldn’t overhear the couple bickering at the bus stop next to me this morning, I could pretend to stare into the distance and lipread the people at the bus stop on the other side of the road.

I would tell you what they were saying – but I’m trying to be better at keeping secrets.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

One tube mind...

I went on the tube yesterday – an every day occurrence for most – a rarity for me! I hate it you see. It’s hot, smelly and I never have a clue what’s going on especially when it stops for ages, in a tunnel, empty, except for some Greek tourists who don’t speak English. But that’s a whole other story.

Also on the tube, I can’t really hear much – so can't listen in on other people's conversations – and as a result I have developed a love of reading all the adverts that line the walls. Over the years I’ve read about impotency clinics and pregnancy vitamins, holidays for singles and ways to find romance – I thought I’d seen everything, until last night.

There I was reading away through instructions of what not to do on the tube: Don’t put feet on seats; Be considerate with your music; Don’t leave it until the last minute before trying to get out; Avoid pulling passengers between stations…

Huh!?…

At that point I burst out laughing, much to the disconcertion of the other passengers, and wild images of brief romantic trysts popped into my head (clothes were on – I’m not that filthy-minded!). Unable to believe my eyes I reread the sign again and was rather disappointed when I saw what it actually said:

Avoid pulling the passenger alarm between stations

I think I prefer the first interpretation myself.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Climb every... um indoor wall

Fab Friend and I went climbing at the weekend. She’s getting really rather good you know – she flits up the wall efficiently and sometimes rather effortlessly. I am best at coiling the rope… thanks to great tuition from ex-housemate’s boyfriend.

So anyway, I finally decided to lead a route, quite a long one but not a difficult grade, and set off grabbing green holds and hoping for the best. I was trying to project the same outward coolness that FF has, using an outside flank here, a drop knee there but it just wasn’t working… and two thirds of the route in, my feet and my hands started fighting each other. The hands would go up and the feet would drag me back down again and I was starting to wonder if I’d ever reach the top. *sniff

And this is where we realised how cool it is that we are both deaf. You see, hanging on a rope 20 metres up is normally quite an isolating experience but we could have a completely silent conversation and lipread each other with ease…even the swear words! (sorry Ma).
And so FF egged me on, told me not to give up and we were in fits of laughter at the randomness of it all, which really helped me complete the climb.

FF then tried a harder route and set off. It was all going swimmingly until she used a new sign to signal that I should pull the rope tight as she was going for a difficult move and couldn’t turn around to mouth it, except from where I was it looked she was asking me to give her move rope… so I let out loads…. whoopsee!

Bonuses of being deaf and climbing = long distance conversations

Downfalls = literally that… and um, getting dead!

Friday, 6 June 2008

Holiday...

ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-da
I have an unprecedented day off today because a wall is being knocked down in my office, and it's left me in a very good mood. In fact, if I knew the words I would be dancing around this internet cafe right now, hair bleached and backcombed, pixie boots on, doing that funny arm movement thing and singing Madonna's Holiday in my notably dulcet tones.

In fact, if everyone in this cafe knew what fate would befall them if I was hearing, I think they'd all be thanking their lucky stars that I am not. And today, I am too. And here's why...

I got to have a weekday lie-in without the rush hour traffic waking me up.

The children in the pool at my gym failed to annoy me with their whingey tones, caterwauling and general child-related noise even though it was blatantly obvious everyone else would have quite liked to drown them all.

I get to listen to my music as loud as I want when I get home because everyone in my block is at work. Ha-ha-haaa...

... and what's more, I get to sing MY words, too - without people thinking I have totally lost the plot.

The only thing I am sad about...

There is still no showing of SATC with subtitles... that I can find - if I am being dumb and there actually is one, that isn't in Ramsgate on a Tuesday afternoon at 4, please email me and let me know. You see, today is a perfect cinema day... the sun's not shining, it'd be nice and empty and I'd probably have my pick of the seats. *sniff...

Think I am going to go home and work my way through the box set instead, while eating the still-delicious flapjack from the other night.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Do you know the way to...

Last night I gave Nikki, who incidentally is Fab Friend’s sister, her second baking lesson. Having mastered the delights of lemon drizzle sponge cake and cupcakes with vanilla buttercream icing, we went down the oaty route and created flapjacks – my speciality – and oatcakes.

The flapjacks were an incredible success and are quite possibly responsible for the sugar high that I was still on at 4 o’clock this morning. The oatcakes were less of a success. The first batch, it has to be said, was absolutely revolting. We were so excited and took a massive bite and met each other with mirrored looks of disgust. Naturally, we had to get rid of the taste with a mouthful of flapjack.

Nikki, the eternal baking optimist embarked on the second batch. Not wanting the odd baked porridge taste of the last batch, we cooked them until they were dryer than the Sahara desert and harder than Grant from EastEnders, which rather bizarrely made them more palatable.

The third batch tasted delicious with Comte and chutney and, even though I had very little room, I soon polished off my share. Must go to gym today… although it’s been so long, I might have to ask directions.

And, while we’re on the subject of directions, I get asked them all the time. Which has pros and cons when you don’t hear very well. I was outside Liberty once when this group of painfully shy Japanese school boys came up to me and asked the way to… well that’s the problem – to this day I still have absolutely no idea where they wanted to go, not even an inkling! I tried so hard, but on the third go, they admitted defeat and despite my attempts to convey my deafness, they will probably return to Japan thinking English girls are rude.

Then, on my way back from lunch the other day this lady blocked my path with a rather pained look on her face. She was Russian, I discovered from the ancient dictionary she had in her hand. She pointed to the word Department Store and looked at me expectantly. I named all the famous ones, but not a flicker of recognition crossed her face. This went on, with her blurting out random English words that I couldn’t hear or understand and me trying to guess. After 10 minutes and a lot of thinking, I decided that she might need the toilet… and Bullseye that was it. But unable to say it in Russian, I decided it would just be easier to take her to the nearest one, which was 10 minutes away, and pray she wasn’t as desperate as she looked.

But, in a way, I rather like that people stop and ask me things and, even though I have trouble understanding, some of them are really interesting. The other day I met this elderly couple from Canada who were trying to get to Victoria Station and about to board a bus to Putney – I told them the correct way and we got chatting as I watched three of four of my buses sailed past but I really didn’t mind. And guess what, if I’m ever in the Lake Eerie area, I’ve now got a place to stay!

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

SATC obsession

Okay, okay, I know I’m starting to sound a bit like a broken record here but I REALLY want to see Sex & The City at the cinema and there are still no subtitled showings listed.

Despite the mixed reviews about it, ranging from utter crap with more product placements than Selfridges to ‘So amazing, *Sob*, I cried the whole way through!’ I feel the need to make up my own mind – and I want to do this with a life-sized Carrie staring back at me.

I love the cinema – squishing down in to those massive seats with the cup holders that no cups seem to fit in. I even love the smell of stale popcorn that lingers on from the last movie and the millions of adverts that you have to sit through before the movie starts.

The boy I was in love with, who took me for a crap in Hampstead (see Words aren’t all I have), understood my frustrated and unrequited affection for the cinema and tried his hardest to take me as often as possible. This one time we watched La Vie en Rose and, after four hours of seeing Edith Piaf lose the plot then finally die a hideous death, I was so traumatised I nearly passed out in China Town. He hadn’t quite got the grasp the Chick Flick genre being my favourite.

That said, he once took me on a surprise date to Streatham – the romantic capital of the capital – to watch a 1920s’ silent movie, which was brilliant. I think I fell in love with him on that date in spite of the fact we were the only people there who weren’t born in the 1920s and who had our own teeth.

When I can’t go to the cinema, it makes me very mad. About two years ago I went to the cinema for the first time in four years. My friend had triple-checked that the subtitled showing was happening and he bought me popcorn, nachos, a massive diet Coke and some pick & mix to make sure I had a real cinema experience. As we sat down and the movie started I was jigging with excitement. And then, nothing, no subtitles, just a bloody movie for hearing people. My gallant mate dashed off to complain and discovered that the man who knew how to work the machine was on holiday so there would be no subtitles.

Surrounded by my mountain of snacks I wanted to sit there and cry but my sniffing was disturbing the hearing people. So instead I wrote a letter complaining – I’m quite good at these, I once complained to Kettle Chips about their mango crisps not tasting of mango and they sent me a huge box of their mango crisps, which still didn’t taste of mango. The cinema people were equally crap and sent me enough free cinema tickets to last a hearing person a lifetime. Except, not being hearing and with a subtitled showing of a movie I want to see happening once every 4 years, I will probably be dead before I’ve even used half of them…

What a cheerful thought for the day…

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Fire, fire!

This morning I started work early as I had stuff to do so I bought my breakfast from a local health food store near my office. A creature of habit, when I shop there, I always have an Innocent Smoothie and a delicious wholemeal roll – and this morning I was starving and really looking forward to it.

So, there I was queuing and about to pay when all of a sudden the shop got a bit smoky and people started putting their fingers in their ears. I tuned in to see if I could hear anything and could feel the vibrations of something very loud.

Being of moderate intelligence I put two and two together and decided that the fire alarm must be going off! Smart huh!?
Now, I’d always imagined that in smoky atmospheres with an alarm blaring, people would leg it pretty quickly. But no, people continued to stack shelves, with one finger in one ear, queue for food and attempt to buy coffee. So, seeing as there were no flames licking at my ankles and the alarm wasn’t causing me any aural discomfort, I decided to stay and pay for my breakfast.

By the time I had paid, there was moderate panic and the manager was herding people out the door, the pavement had been cordoned off and I half expected my old pals in their fire engine to turn up, too. Needless to say, I looked both ways before crossing the street.

I was going to go there for lunch but can’t be sure that it’s still standing. Think I will brave the M&S crush instead.

Monday, 2 June 2008

It's electrifying

Well, I had an eventful weekend involving a hedge trimmer! I went round to my aunt’s house and we decided to tackle her garden. While she was sorting weeds, I got started on her front hedge with much enthusiasm, as I have never used a hedge trimmer before!

Call me a boy but I love tools – not that I am very good at using them. I inherited my uncle’s drill and on the few outings it’s had, it ended up making the wall look like Swiss cheese as it bounced around with gusto with me, yelping, and attached to the other end. Needless to say I am also very handy with filler!

So there I was trimming away, hitting my aunt’s newly-replaced but antique railings and trying to pretend I wasn’t, when she said something so I looked up to hear her and sliced straight into the trimmer cable.

My first thought was ‘Argh – how much does one of these things cost?’ as I saw the gaping hole in the wire. My aunt’s first thought, bless her, was, ‘Arrrgh, you could have died!’

*Gulp

It still didn’t really sink in as I dashed to get the electrical tape and hoped and prayed it would work again…

Nothing…

Luckily however, my mother has given me some practical genes and so I raided the toolbox, found a fuse and replaced the one in the plug. And thankfully, the trimmer came back to life. Although I was relegated to cutting the rest of the hedge with a small pair of secateurs. After I had finished I did have a quick contemplative think over a beer and thanked my lucky stars. Also made a mental note not to lip read while holding potential killing machines.

It’s not the first time my hearing has got me into risky situations, as you have read before. Perhaps the worst one was when I was about 5 and my mum said ‘no’ and I thought she said ‘go’ when we were trying to cross a busy road.

I wish I could say the car came off worse but it, unlike me, didn’t land on its head…

…which maybe explains a lot about me now!