Friday, 29 January 2010

Friday! Whoop!

Today, is Thankful Friday!

And I am especially thankful that I now have less than one week to wait for my sofa to arrive!

At the moment I have a lone armchair, donated kindly by London Aunt, but it's pretty hard to kick back and relax in, and I keep finding myself on the floor at the moment, either because I've slid out of it, or because it's just comfier.

Slowly but surely it's all coming together, and this morning when I woke up, I felt thankful that I have a whole weekend ahead in my lovely little flat.

Anyway, you've long-since been familiar with my rantings about the BBC subtitles and how rubbish they are on Breakfast News etc etc etc…

Well, this morning they were actually incredibly useful. There I was munching on my toasted crumpet when I heard Andy Murray's name. Oooh I thought, is this about who he's playing in the final of the Australian Open?

I looked at the screen for clues, and there was a cat, curled up on a blanket.

Bemused I read the subtitles, which of course were behind, being live, and sure enough, the story was about Andy Murray.

Was he playing a cat? As the first British player to get this far since 1977 or something, that would give him a sure-fire advantage.

But alas, for once the BBC had got the pictures wrong, not the subtitles.

It made a nice change…

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Happy anniversary Big Bro and Maxi Clog

Today is a very special day...

It's Big Bro and Maxi Clog's 4-year wedding anniversary!

This time 4 years ago, we were in Holland on a freezing Saturday... And when I say freezing, it was actually 5 degrees below. But the sky was the bluest blue and the sun was shining and it really was a brilliant day.

The next day wasn't so brilliant seeing as at breakfast, where I was crying into my coffee with the worst hangover known to man, Pa tripped and went flying headlong into the bar of the hotel.

It's a vision I will never forget – his plate one way, his glass another, the cutlery flying into the air, and my Pa, hurtling through my line of vision in a Superman pose.

Of course, there was blood, and a very broken nose and eye socket. I have the pictures but they're not really for general consumption.

So anyway, where was I? Ah yes, happy thoughts, weddings... kittens and the fact that tomorrow is Friday!

Bring

It

On!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Running to work?!

OK, so no blog yesterday…

Why? Well I decided to walk to work, for the first time since I moved to my new area, so instead of being able to write on the bus, I was stomping through Hyde Park.

It's just under 5 miles, but doesn't seem that far, with lots of interesting things to look at, people to watch and fresh-ish air to inhale, so I think I'll start doing it regularly.

Recently, both GBman and Tigger have been trying to convince me to take up running. So maybe eventually, if I get give in and give it a go, I can run to work...

Ha!

I'm still traumatised by memories of running at school. While I excelled at swimming, hockey and rounders, running just wasn't on my radar. I didn't get it! In fact, so slow was I, that a teacher, called Hairy Chap, used to give me a piggy back around the course so that he wasn't home late for dinner with his wife.

Seeing how much Tigger loves it though, has inspired me! So maybe I'll persevere, run through my two-second wall of pain that I seem to hit just running for the bus!

I'll let you know how I get on...

Monday, 25 January 2010

Reggae Reggae Sauce for Big Bro

Phew, where did the weekend go?

Seems like only yesterday I was excitedly heading for Heathrow airport to meet Big Bro. And now he's back in Holland.

*sniff

We had a great weekend though, catching up, walking around the city, eating a delicious curry, meeting up with GBman and Swedish Girly, and getting muddy along the river path looking for the bridge that was, ‘just around the corner!’

In the end Big Bro got out TomTom on his iPhone, which proved the bridge was anything but just around the corner!

Cue, lots of slipping and sliding back along the river the way we came, with me wondering how I have lived here for seven years and not worked out the lack of bridges yet!

In the light of him not having English food readily available, I stocked up on his arrival with his favourite things:

Sausages, bacon, HP sauce, peanut butter, muffins, crumpets...

…and erm, at his request, Reggae Reggae Sauce!!

I tried to make him eat as much of the food as possible as I don't really have sausages and bacon – or Reggae Reggae Sauce on a regular basis, but there's still a fair amount left!

Looks like I'm having Reggae Reggae Sauce sausage casserole tonight then!

Big Bro – COME BACK PLEASE!

Friday, 22 January 2010

Big Bro's visit

Whoop! Today is Thankful Friday and I am incredibly thankful that my No-Snow Dance seems to have worked and therefore hopefully Big Bro should arrive in London today!

I am ridiculously happy about this as I haven't seen him since August, and he's yet to see my new flat either.

Now I just have to count down the hours until I meet him at Heathrow, hope that 40 people don't suddenly want his flight – he's on standby and there are currently that many free seats – and keep my fingers crossed that a freak weather front doesn't suddenly surround the UK.

Positive thinking... I think.

I am also thankful for the fact that I've finally claimed my prize for being the Ultimate Summer Insider – my trip to Barcelona!

London Aunt and I are going and the prize value means we've got a 5* hotel in the best area, frilly flights with BA, and because that's all free, it'll mean we'll actually have the budget to enjoy ourselves, too.

I went to Barcelona last April with Miss K and loved it. Thanks to her expert knowledge of the city, I now feel as though I know my way around a bit, too.

Just gotta try and remember how to find the Absinthe bar...

*heehee

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Commuting frustration

My commute descended into hell this morning after some STOOPID utilities company really decided to put a spanner in the works and totally stuff up one of the busiest sections of road in west London.

Bus stops were closed and there were angry scenes where commuters, who couldn’t read the ‘bus stop closed’ sign, shook their fists at buses that weren’t stopping, but then, still continued to wait there. And, for some unknown reason, my bus decided to block the entire road for everyone, and caused an even bigger hold up, with horns honking, hands waving, fists shaking… and then, he drove into a tree!

It was bedlam!

Seriously, I couldn’t have made it up if I’d wanted to!

And the worst part?

This is going to go on for another 2 months!

*argggggghhhhhhhhhhh

Yesterday, while driving through the roadworks myself, four cars in front of me went through a red light. When our lights changed to green, we were faced with another four cars flying at us from the other direction who clearly couldn’t be bothered to wait at their red light.

The roadworks are so frustrating and the hold-ups are so big, that they are causing people to behave insanely irrationally – it really is an accident waiting to happen.

I can’t take it anymore, I need to complain to someone...

So if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find them...

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The pianist who made me forget I was deaf

Well, it is now Wednesday – and, as ordered by Big Bro, I am doing my anti Snow Dance at every available opportunity.

No SNOW I say! NO SNOW!

Anyway, last night Pa came down to London and we went to see Cedric Tiberghien in concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank.

Brilliant!

In fact, it was, without a doubt, one of the best piano recitals I have been to for quite some time – Sorry Imo (gen Cooper) – and I was clearly not alone in thinking that. Sat beside Pa and I was a group of screaming fans – at a piano recital!!!!

What struck me first of all about Cedric Tiberghien, was that in the last five years – since I last saw him play at the Wigmore Hall – how much he seems to have grown, in my eyes anyway! He dwarfed the Steinway Grand and once seated reminded me of Shroeder, the piano player and Lucy’s love interest, from Peanuts – knees bent right up and back arched over the keyboard.

The second thing that struck me was how he appeared to be slow dancing with the piano, right there on stage. He seemed to be caressing the keys – teasing out beautiful melodies with ease.

The opening piece – by Chopin – was undoubtably the best. But the programme, entirely made up of Polish composers and mostly Mazurkas was utterly captivating.

Pa was worried about how much of it I had heard, as Tiberghien’s touch really is light, but I felt as though I heard it all. My seat did indeed allow me to key-read the high bits but the jaunty left hand carried me through any out-of-frequency sections with such ease that I completely forgot I was deaf.

And if a pianist to make me forget that – well, he must have been good!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Key-reading the piano

Hurrah! Today us Tuesday! And that means Pa is coming to visit.

Being a super-clever music man, he's always interested in what's going on concert-wise in London... And now I've got a 2-bed flat, it means he can drive down and not have to drive back the same day.

We usually go and see Imogen Cooper, as she's his favourite, and fast becoming mine actually, but having seen her last month, we're going to see someone else tonight.

Pa always buys tickets with a view of the keyboard end of the piano, which is really good for me because it means I can key-read the music.

When it goes out of my frequency, I simple watch the fingers, how fast they're moving, what keys they're on, and that enables me to follow the music better.

I think that's why prefer piano music to anything else. I once went to see a load of violins playing Vivaldi, and there was no hope of string-reading them. It was like watching a silent movie – all action, no sound!

Never again!

I've learnt I simply have to be choosy about what I go and listen to now. It's either got to be low, or contain instruments I can read when they go out of my frequency, like the piano.

Anyone know of any double bass recitals coming up?

Monday, 18 January 2010

Hearing my heating

Well, I can officially say, if I never pull another staple out of a floorboard it'll be too soon.

This weekend was Operation Shut Heating Up and it was totally knackering.

Blanco did an amazing job, and there really aren't enough thank yous for him, for hammering in what must have been 200 tacks to secure my hardboard floor, at 7pm, after a day of ripping it all up.

And the result?

Well, it seems to be quiet.

And if anyone else dares complain about it, then they can pay the carpet man obscene amounts of money to pull my carpet up then return to put it down and be exceptionally rude at the same time. They can rip the skin off their knuckles pulling out staples, move the entire contents of my bedroom – and I have a lot of shoes – and have hips that feel like they've done a million can-can kicks, because I am not doing it again.

In all fairness, she was gushingly grateful when I saw her yesterday. This on-going problem with the noise has spanned a decade, and when you picture the timescale, you can kind of understand her desperation.

But then I can understand my desperation, too. My desperation to make it stop, the nagging – I mean.

So yesterday, I got up at 7am, when my heating was due to come on, and sat on my little IKEA stool, a long piece of wood attached to my ear, the other pressed against the flow pipe on my radiator, listening!

This, for all my deafness, was a very good conductor of sound. So good in fact, that I could actually hear the rushing of the water – and nothing else.

Amazing!

Anyway changing the subject slightly, today I am doing my ‘No Snow’ dance as Big Bro is going to try for a second time to visit me at the weekend!

When the forecaster started blabbering on about snow this morning, I was furious. To ruin one visit from Big Bro is bad enough, but to ruin two, well that's just plain rude.

So I guess I'm just going to have to watch this space and keep everything crossed not only for the weather to stay calm, but that Operation Shut Heating Up has been a success, too.

Friday, 15 January 2010

It's Friday!!!!!!

Today is Thankful Friday, and seeing as it's felt like Friday all week, it couldn't have come soon enough!

Today I am thankful for two things.

Firstly that it is my Big Boss's birthday tomorrow, as it meant I got to make cupcakes to celebrate. I'm working on a new design at the moment... so hopefully it'll go down well.

Secondly I am thankful that tomorrow I will hopefully fix the noisy pipes issue!

YAY!

If we manage it, it will change my life!

If we don't manage it...

Well, my neighbour is just going to have go deaf!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Waiting for Friday…

Every single day this week, I've woken up thinking it was Friday, and today's been no different.

But at least today it's almost Friday...

Almost the weekend...

Which looks set to be another one of DIY – to try and fix my heating.

And on Sunday, I have a date!

*blush

Must remember not to talk about the DIY too much or else he's gonna think I'm Wendy out of Bob The Builder, or erm, something.

So it looks set to be a varied weekend.

Hopefully snow free, and hopefully a success in all areas.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Not hearing at the pub quiz

Today I woke up to a thick blanket of white enveloping my little area of west London.

It was perfect, thick, white sticky snow.

All ideal conditions to wake up to on the weekend. But not on a Wednesday when work is a priority.

So anyway, I made my way to the bus stop, slipping and sliding with the other commuters and waited.

The traffic was busy, the snow was coming down and some poor lady's car decided now was the perfect time to break down. Right by our bus stop.

So a couple of us stepped in to push it to the side of the road for her. Except she got out to push, too.

And left the handbrake on. So it wouldn't move.

Then she took the handbrake off but didn't get back in. So we pushed it without anyone steering or being in control of the brakes!

*Eek

Anyway, it all turned out fine and I am now on my bus into town.

I have no idea what the weather is like at this very moment as the bus is so steamed up it's impossible to tell. But fingers crossed my journey will be trouble free.

Anyway last night, I ventured out to see Gingerbread Man and Swedish Girly. We just went to our local pub as I've not been feeling fabulous recently, and had a post-New-Year catch up.

While there, a guy came around asking people if they wanted to enter the quiz. Why not? We thought, with GBman promising to relay the questions to me.

Round 1 however was a complete disaster! It was excerpts from radio shows and by listening to the voice and subject matter, you had to guess who it was! Erm...

Well, as you can guess I was a whole lot of use! But then GBman went and spoke to the quiz master who offered to play it to me with headphones on the MP3 player.

I didn't have the heart to tell him it wouldn't help that much but did it anyway, with GBman sharing them to see if we could get a better idea. And he did, which was a relief.

And do you know what? We did OK in the quiz... we didn't win, but we were only 6 points behind the winner, partly due to our appalling knowledge of rap songs and English bands...

And in spite of me not being able to hear anything, we had a very successful relay of questions going on, and I think I may have even helped get a few of them right...

What's more, I had a great time, which I never normally associate with pub quizzes. I mean, I know a lot of useless information, but it's the hearing bit I fall down on.

So, bring on the next one I say!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

DG's Tuesday rant!

Today, I am sat on the bus being driven slightly insane by the man sat next to me.

He’s talking very loudly on his mobile phone, smells atrocious and keeps scratching himself in unmentionable places.

It’s making me wish I was hurtling along on the underground, and that’s quite something, as I bloomin’ hate the thing!

Another thing that’s making me wish I was on the underground is the number of New Year road works that have popped up around the capital – they are driving me insane, as nothing can actually drive.

It’s been in the news a lot lately how apparently this is all Thatcher’s fault...

Something to do with privatisation in the 80s and giving firms way too much power to just go digging up roads.

But what I don’t understand is why are people wasting time blaming someone who hasn’t been in charge for a good many years, instead of making changes. If Thatcher had the power to change stuff, doesn’t our current Government have the power to change stuff back?

London Aunt once said to me that in the time that you can moan about something, you can probably have fixed the thing you’re moaning about. And although when applying this to laws, Government and local authorities, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but surely it’s a start? No?

So Boris Johnson knows why the roads are being dug up, but what’s he doing about making it more organised and less disruptive? In last night’s Evening Standard, all he did was say how frustrating he was by the texts from his mates moaning about delays...

Well imagine my frustration that this is the only thing about the situation that seemingly bothers him! Right now, I am stuck in stationary traffic due to road works. I have a mad man who is shouting down the phone and still seems to have an unspeakable itch, and I have a headache from hearing his voice droning on and on and on. And I am deaf!

So Boris, while I don’t have your mobile number to text you direct, if you’re reading, please ban talking on mobiles on buses, road works during rush hour – or road works full stop (or at least get the utility companies to coordinate when they’re digging up the roads) – and this one just in, people who park in the bus lane.

Thank you, thank you very much!

Monday, 11 January 2010

Deafproofing my new flat

Today, is Monday...

Boo Hiss!

I wish it was the weekend already again, mostly so I could sleep and erm... sleep.

I've been really exhausted lately and not for any obvious reason either. I've never been a big fan of sleep but recently I find myself almost craving it.

This morning, as I write this on my bus journey to work, I just want to lie down on the seats and snooze, except I can't because it's full. How inconvenient!

Anyway, what is making me smile this week is my Digital Hard Drive thingymajig that The Rents gave me for Christmas. The idea that I can record stuff with the subtitles is AMAZING to me, and the novelty has yet to wear off.

Right now, I swear I get as much enjoyment pressing record as I do watching the stuff. In all honesty, I don't really have time to watch the stuff, but who cares... I have programmes recorded with subtitles on my Digital Hard Drive thingymajig.

It’s making me wonder why on earth I waited so long to buy one.

On another positive note, I've also set the wheels in motion to sorting out a flashing fire alarm for my flat. After the incident at my last place when my drunken neighbours set fire to their kitchen, I’m taking no chances and right now, my piddly smoke alarm would be wasted on me.

I’ve been looking at all the ones available and have decided I want one that involves the least drilling – as I’m still not very good at that. Having said that, this weekend I did have a DIY lesson with Blanco on how to plane doors – although I didn’t actually volunteer to do anything more complicated than hold the doors and swish them backwards and forwards in amazement once they were done.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of DIY – but I’m not always very good at it. Take the drilling for instance. When I first inherited London Uncle’s electric drill, I excitedly attempted to put up a curtain pole above my window. I pressed the drill button and the force almost knocked me off the step ladder, and then the drill proceeded to bounce it’s way across the wall, me in tow, making dent after dent, until I eventually engaged my brain and let go of the power button.

*blush

Then, take the time the washing machine stopped working properly. It wouldn’t drain, so when it went into a spin cycle, it sounded like there was a small person in there fighting to get out.

So I took it apart… and flooded the kitchen, three times in the process of trying to put it back together again.

The list actually goes on, but I’m going to stop there… for now.

I’ve actually emailed London Fire Brigade to see if they’ll come and fit my alarm, as I’ve read that sometimes they do.

Of course this has nothing to do with an big red fire engine of burly men turning up at my flat, or the uniform… or

Right, time to stop talking I think!

Friday, 8 January 2010

It's Thankful Friday

Hurrah! Today us Thankful Friday and today I am thankful quite simply that it is almost the weekend.

I've got a fun one planned with a little bit of practicality thrown in. Wise Friend is coming to see my flat before his impending move to Canada and Blanco is coming to plane my doors, off the hinges, as despite me thinking you could saw bits off them on the hinges, you can't!

DIY and I are fairly new friends you see!

Anyway, today's cold snap and a lovely email from a Norglish girl yesterday has got me thinking about the state we're in during this cold snap and whether the UK will evolve from this more able to cope...

But before I can answer that I guess I need to go away and find out what we need to cope...

How do snowy places keep their runways clear? Their roads de-iced OR their vehicles equipped to deal with ice?

How to trains run in 40inches of snow at minus 30 degrees without breaking?

And how much would it cost to fix this all in the UK and at the same time make sure they could also cope with the baking summers that also cause delays?!

Time to hit Google I think...

After I've warmed up my hands enough to type again!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Thinking about this cold spell

Yesterday, after watching the snowflakes hurtle down at quite an alarming rate in central London, our office was shut early and we got sent home.

Today, there are no snowflakes, but instead, an icy sheen on the pavements, empty gritters passing by my bus, and people taking baby steps as they make their way to work.

Today I am wearing socks with toes, to see if that makes a difference to my freezing feet and, as I dashed out the door, I thrust on a red fleecy neck gaiter that comes right up over my nose. I look a little bonkers but I don't care, I'm warm.

Throughout the UK, everything is broken because of the snow. Flights are cancelled, roads are closed, and schools are shut. And it got me thinking, how do they do it in countries that are always this cold? I mean, schools can't always be shut can they? And there are flights in and out of snowy places all the time.

If this cold Artic winter is set to be a trend over here for many years to come, or indeed as Pa say, the next Ice Age is coming, then perhaps we should have a rethink about who's in charge here. For the next general election, let's get a Canadian running, let's have an Icelandic Mayor (are we speaking to each other yet?) and let's have our train companies run by people from the Trans Siberian Railway.

Of course, I am purely speculating for fun and this probably isn't a very good idea.

But things can't get any worse, can they?

So surely anything's worth a try.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

All around the UK this morning there's chaos caused by snow...

Just up the M40, High Wycombe has seen 20cm of snow, and motorists were forced to sleep on the A3 after terrible weather there.

And here in our little micro climate of zone 2? Snow? What snow?! OK, so there's a small smattering on the ground, and the overland tube near me has stopped working, but apart from that, it's like any other normal day, except I left for work early as the BBC led me to believe conditions were apocalyptic.

And, I'm sure they are in some places, just not here.

Regular readers will remember that last time London has loads of snow, Jenny M and I ended up making tea and coffee for 26 stranded bus drivers on the Fulham Road. It was brilliant fun as apart from the frustrations of being stuck, the atmosphere was quite party like.

I know I wasn't alone in hoping for a similar scenario today, where the weather is so bad you can't get into work, not where the weather gets so bad during the day, you can't get home from work, which according to the BBC is a much more likely scenario.

And so, I'm equipped. As my fellow Blogger Miss Brodie says of herself, "I'm an Inuit", that's exactly the look I'm going for today, because if I do get stuck in London and am forced to walk home, I wanna be warm in the process.

So with 6 layers, a giant bobble hat, reindeer gloves and big boots, I'm on my way. Beside me is a woman wearing 3inch heels and a very fashionable coat...

I feel ridiculous, so it better jolly well snow now!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Hearing teeth chatter

OK, I know I talk about the weather a lot, but it's utterly freezing at the moment!

Friends in the Norf are already reporting the snow that's due to hit the capital later today, but all this cold weather is bothering me.

You see, if it continues, then Friend Who Knows Big Words might postpone her return from Vietnam, and that would be a disaster.

In fact, she's just this minute texted me to let me know it's 34 degrees and sunny in Ho Chi Minh City, and ordered me to sort out the weather and demanding a balmy spring. Here's hoping eh?!

Anyway, the noisy heating saga continues. The noise is apparently intolerable downstairs, but inaudible upstairs – even to non deaf people!

Blanco has very kindly offered to accompany downstairs this weekend to have a listen, so we can hear for ourselves if there's a newborn foal living in my pipes.

It's insanely frustrating to deal with, but in the grand scheme of things it could be worse!

I mean, I could have no heating rather than heating that's allegedly noisy – and that would not only be expensive but rather hideous, too...

And on the subject of no heating, my new bus route to work has just that!

When I went on it in the summer, after visiting London Aunt, it was boiling, with hot air streaming through the heating vents.

And today? Nothing!

I'm sure there's a logical explanation such as in summer the hot air is channelled away from the engine to keep it cool or something, but it seems a little bonkers that in summer we're baked, and in winter we're transported in something the resembles a supermarket chiller cabinet.

Seriously, there's a man next to me, and his teeth are chattering, audibly! And if I can hear it, it must be bad!!!!

Monday, 4 January 2010

Deaf hip hop!

Whoop, today I am going back to work after a rather long break, and I can't wait.

OK, so I would have liked to stay in bed longer, but with a welcoming blue sky and sunshine outside the window, I felt inspired to start the day with a spring in my step, which I certainly did when I stepped outside and realised it was more than just a little freezing!!!!

Anyway, yesterday I went to see a brilliant hip hop show at The Barbican called Pied Piper and I absolutely loved it. It was especially good because, being a dance show, I didn't need to hear anything, although I did hear the thumping bass quite a lot.

It helped cement my New Year's resolution to get out there and see more visual theatre, to make the arts work for me, rather than lament when things aren't subtitled.

There's another dance show taking place on the South Bank that I've heard about... I'll go there next I think!

Deaf Girly and subitled Mamma Mia: Here we go again

Regular readers and my followers on Twitter will know that recently I've been talking a lot about the lack of subtitled showings availab...