Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas from Deafinitely Girly

Today is Thankful Friday. It is also Christmas Eve and this blog should be coming from the snowy mountains of France. But it is not because I am not in France for Christmas, I am at The Rents’ house.

After trying and failing to leave the country twice, and watching in amazement as the other London airports shipped happy Christmas travellers out with little delay, I have absolutely nothing but scathing criticism of Heathrow and British Airways.

Both companies, are in my opinion, utterly rubbish, and the way the snow fiasco was handled was atrocious. I was so vocal about this on Twitter that I nearly ended up on the BBC Breakfast sofa with Sian and Bill to talk about my failed Christmas plans, but honestly, not going skiing pales into insignificance compared with the people who have children stuck in America on choir tours, or those in limbo in the UK with no family at all and just a yellow plastic cot for company on the floor of the airport terminal. The main sad thing was that Big Bro and French Aunt were meant to be meeting us there and obviously that didn’t happen.

*sniff

So with no holiday, that we’d spent a year planning, it was time to think positive. London Aunt and Cousins had lots of parties and Christmas offers in their street, so it was decided that we’d have an early Christmas dinner together on Wednesday and then The Rents and I would return home and spend Christmas Day with Gma and Nottnum Uncle. Hurrah!

Being in my Rents’ tiny snowed-in village also means I get to go to the village Church talent contest, a yearly event held on Christmas Eve. It’s not really a talent contest, it’s actually meant to be a carol service, but it’s usually filled with local kids singing hopelessly out of tune who are secretly thinking they’re at an X Factor audition not a tiny church service. It’s the most unreligious thing I’ve ever been to, and every year I promise myself I won’t go back. But, just as I watch the X Factor auditions with a strange curiosity, so once again am I lured back to the village Christmas talent show.

What we also have planned is drinks with my Rents lovely neighbours, who, on hearing that we wouldn’t be going away for Christmas snuck into our house and put up a fully-decorated Christmas tree. Ma was quite sad that the house wasn’t going to be decorated so it was a lovely surprise for her to find a tree sat in the living room!

So this year Christmas isn’t quite what I was expecting, but it’s still going to be fab. Now all that’s left to do is wish you a very Merry Christmas from Deafinitely Girly; I’m just off to raid the Quality Street tin.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Today, I'm thankful for Muddle

Today is Thankful Friday. It is also my last working day before Christmas.

Today I am thankful that I had a woman named Muddle in my life. I knew her for 24 years this month. Today is her funeral – Ma and Pa are going, but as it’s my last day of work, I cannot be there to say goodbye.

I will miss her, but I’m very grateful she got to see my lovely flat earlier in October – ‘You’ve done well!’ she told me as I gave her the guided tour – and that we shared the fabulous adventure of Big Bro’s wedding, where I commandeered The Rent’s Renault Espace home from the airport after Pa demolished his face on the bar over breakfast and had to have his nose put back together in Clogland.

She was amazing then, and she was amazing right from when I was 6 years old. I remember I used to help her plant the new bulbs in her incredible garden, share endless chats over cups of tea, take walks on the common, and there’s no forgetting the foggy drive up the hill from the school disco with Jenny M. She was also amazing at offering me her kitchen table for exam revision, keeping me fed and watered as I worked in the quiet peace of her house. It became something of a tradition – yearly exams, GCSEs, A-levels, I often found myself at Muddle's house.

For two years or there abouts, she used to collect Big Bro and me from school, bombing up the hills in her little red Peugeot, yelling at drivers who she felt were in the wrong and zooming this way and that. Whenever I find myself refusing to give way on a narrow road, I always think of Muddle, and her gung-ho driving – it was incredible.

It’s strange when someone who had such a big part in your life leaves it. I mean, I didn’t see her as much after I moved to London as she was in the Wild West erm… Country, but she still rang me on my birthday every year and we kept in touch through The Rents, as I found her tricky to hear on the phone.

But then there are the moments when I think, I should have popped in to see her more often on the way back from Jenny M’s, or, if only I had sent out my birthday thank you cards sooner – she died the week I wrote and stamped, but forgot to post her letter. There are so many what ifs, that you could tie yourself in knots.

But then I just remind myself that Muddle was not one for what ifs. She was one for now. She did 20 years without the love of her life and died right beside the little urn she kept his ashes in while trying to break to ice on her pond to let the fish breathe. She died as eccentrically as she lived. And if she knew I was feeling sad today, she’d chide me, give me a stale Jammy Dodger and weak tea and a waist hug, as I outgrew her when I was about 10 years old.

What I wouldn’t give for one more hug from Muddle. One more batty road trip. One more reminisce with her.

Life is short when you meet someone who is already 60 years older than you. So grab those people you love and tell them today. Make that phone call, post that letter, take that road trip, be the person with no regrets.

Be like Muddle, for as far as I can tell, she had none.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Deafinitely Girly and the coatstand part 2

I have sad news. Last night my coat stand took matters into its own hands and threw it’s broken body on the floor, causing irreparable damage.

It was with a heavy heart that I found it lifeless on my hall carpet this morning, its shattered limbs lying beside it, veiled in a cloak of coats. ‘No more,’ it seemed to plead, ‘no more gaffer tape!’

So now I am stuck with what to do with this sentimentally-special coat stand that Pa bought for me from a strange little shop in Uxbridge nine years ago. To throw it out seems a tragedy, but perhaps it’s the coat stand that has decided its fate, not me.

This time, thankfully, I did not hear the bang as it fell, but I can assure you that the coat carnage that followed, means it definitely happened.

Perhaps I need fewer coats, less hats, and less scarves…

But with the weather like it is right now, I need all the layers I can get; even if at times I resemble a badly-wrapped pass the parcel.

Cold weather does other strange things to me – it makes me drink Lemsip instead of tea, chaps my bottom lip to what seems like beyond repair, and makes me anxious about travelling anywhere. One look The Daily Mail website today and I’d be sent flying over the edge into a chasm of insecurity about impending snow storms, terrorist attacks and doom with a capital D spreading throughout the country.

So today I will not be reading that website. Instead, I will be reading Damnyouautocorrect.com to cheer myself up, and chortling and chuckling away to myself at the wonderful text messages created by the naughty iPhone auto dictionary. Take a look yourself. From a dad telling his daughter he and her mother were going to divorce next month (the iPhone changed it from Disney) to a guy telling his mom he got arrested – instead of a rescue dog.

It’s the opposite of doom. It’s the perfect place for a spot of winter denial.

I’ll see you there, yeah? Otherwise, I’ll be on Habitat’s website looking for a new coat stand!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Not hearing song words

These days I tend to buy songs I like in dribs and drabs from iTunes, rather than purchasing whole albums.

It's the modern-day equivalent of rummaging in the singles bin in Woolworths hoping to find the one track you'd fallen in love with but was playing on the Top-40 countdown on the radio as you were recording it and your tape ran out.

I remember those days. I remember buying Fast Forward magazine and Smash Hits so I could learn the lyrics to Kylie songs, and my first ever favourite song: I Am The One Only by Chesney Hawkes. The latter lyrics were pinned up on my bedroom cupboard door for weeks as I learnt them off by heart.

Now I rarely go in search of lyrics. However, I do have a handy iPhone application that finds the lyrics of the song that is currently playing on my iPod. This is great because when I like a new song, I can discover whether I like the lyrics as well as the melody.

But recently, something very odd has been occurring. I keep liking songs for the melody and then discover that they actually have relevant lyrics, too.

Take last night for example, when I downloaded The Only Exception by Paramore and discovered that I liked the lyrics more than the tune. To put it fluffily: they spoke to me.

Is this how it has always been for hearing peeps?

Until modern technology made lyrics readily available to me, I had no idea that lyrics were relevant at all. I used to make up my own – especially to Kylie – or just hum along to the base line of the music.

Being moderately musical when I was at school, my music teacher gave me the job one term of choosing songs for assemblies. But like I said, at that age, I had no real concept of lyrics, it was all about the music. So I happily played the strangest songs infront of the whole school and teaching staff, with some including swear words (my brother’s INXS album) and goodness knows what else.

Needless to say, this job did not last the term and I was relegated to putting the hymn numbers up on the board. And after a very unsuccessful day where they all fell down one by one during the assembly leaving everyone desperately thumbing through their hymn books looking for One More Step Along The World I Go, I was further relegated to cataloguing the music departments CD collection – something that I actually, in all my geeky splendour, enjoyed.

People who write lyrics I like are still few and far between. Regina Spektor is one of my favourites – her dry take on the world, coupled with her fabulously throaty voice is quite something to behold. While Manu Chao, on translation, gives me lyrics that befuddle my brain!

And then, not long ago I found a recording of a song that I had written as part of a week-long drama project I took part in when I was about 16. It was about a blind optician. It was terrible. It was also slightly bizarre that as a deaf person I wrote a song about a blind optician – an optician who cannot see, that’s surely as strange as a deaf songwriter isn’t it?!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The best deaf table in the house

Last night Fab Friend came to stay with me and we had a pre-Christmas catch up over a Tunisian supper. It was brilliant to see her, and I miss her lots now she doesn't live in London anymore.

As I said, we decided to try a Tunisian place for dinner that has very good reviews online. We got there and it was already quite busy and we were asked if we had a reservation. We didn't but were seated at a table in the candle-lit section at the front of the restaurant.

Five minutes later the owner came over and said that two people with a reservation had specifically requested a table at the front of the restaurant, and would we mind moving to the back.

We duly did and found ourselves in a better lit, quieter area, right by a radiator! This was perfect for us, as it meant we could both hear a lot better as there was little or no background noise. We then got to feast on tagine with chicken and apricots (Fab Friend) and a lentil one for me while nattering away in peace and quiet.

Hurrah!

It’s funny how what most people love for a night out – dimly lit, intimate places – can be tricky for deaf peeps like Fab Friend and I who rely largely on lipreading. As a result, we both have an impeccable knowledge of well-lit bars and restaurants in London and are adding to it all the time.

And the next time I go to this Tunisian restaurant? Well, I'm requesting a table at the back! It's the best deaf table in the house as far as I'm concerned!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Deafinitely Girly's (un)smashing time

Deafinitely Girly had an even scarier awakening this morning when I found that during the night, someone had thrown a potato though my window, smashing it to smithereens. Naturally, I heard nothing!

Bleery eyed, I walked into the lounge to find the offending spud sat on the carpet, in several pieces and glass everywhere.

*sniff

But the weirdest thing was, in my morning haze, I had no idea what to do. Was this a matter for the police? Who mends windows? Was there an intruder in my house? With a little help from texting people in the know, I answered these questions – the last one by looking at the size of the hole and realising that if there was a burglar that size then I could surely take him on, with or without my hot water bottle – and got to work sorting out the mess.

This unsurprisingly required a whole bunch of phone calls. The first one saw me hanging up in horror at a quote of £220, to simply board up my window. The second saw me hanging up when I couldn’t understand a word the person at the other end was saying, and the third, well that saw me speaking to a lovely man who came around 15 minutes later and fixed the whole thing in under an hour for £100.

OK, so that’s £100 I really could have done with spending on something else, but at least I sorted it out – I just hope they don’t come back tonight with the rest of the sack of spuds.

It’s amazing how one bout of thoughtlessness has led to me being out of pocket isn’t it? I wonder what the person was thinking as they sent the potato hurtling towards my house – was it intended to smash the window, or just wake me up?

All pointless questions in the grand scheme of things, but it’s something I can’t help wondering.

But onto bigger things – tomorrow I have another day off as Jenny M is coming to stay. Chic Chick is getting married and Jenny M asked me to go as her plus one! It should be a fabulously chic affair and I can’t wait.

The wedding is in central London, too, which I think is great. The last London wedding I went to was London Aunt and Uncle’s and we all went from the church to the reception on a double-decker bus! I’m very excited to see what Chic Chick has planned for her big day.

But for now, it’s time for lunch. And I quite fancy a jacket potato with tuna, rather than a side portion of shattered living room window this time!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Deafinitely Girly and the coatstand

Deafinitely Girly had a very scary awakening this morning. While lying in bed, hitting snooze on my alarm clock for the 30th time, I heard a thud, and my bedroom door flew open.

Naturally I jumped out of bed and grabbed the first weapon I could find to defend myself – a hot water bottle – and saw the assailant peering around the door: my beloved antique bentwood coat stand.

Ok so hot water bottle versus coat stand, who would win?!

Seriously though, I have got to get better at this DIY lark, because I fix and fix that coat stand and still it breaks, falling over, coats akimbo, like a drunken idiot.

This latest repair job, I admit is not one of my better ones. After it broke last week – on me, while I was vacuuming under it – I lost patience. Once I had scrambled out from under a snood or three, I kind of taped it together with some extra-strong grey tape Blanco had bought when we ripped up my floor, and added some metal brackets for what I now realise was pointless measure.

This repair job on my coatstand, as I discovered when it rudely burst into my bedroom this morning – possibly in protest to being taped together with wall brackets – was not going to work very well.

Anyway, today is part of a very short working week for me. I had Monday off and I have Friday off, too. My last long weekend was a wonderful mixture of lots of my favourite people including SuperCathyFragileMystic and The Photographer who came to tea with my favourite dog in the whole world, Blackberry, and then Gingerbread Man and the Singing Swede, who came for roast dinner on Sunday night.

This was coupled with celebrating London Cousin 1’s 11th birthday and buying a Christmas tree. It all got a bit Little Women as the five of us: London Aunt, London Cousins 1 and 2, Miss C and me marched down the street with our tree, before decorating it to the sound of Christmas carols.

And then on Monday, after a busy day of writing for Superdrug and doing not very much, I saw BIL (MPA boy) whose blog name is still work in progress. Suffering from the effects of a very energetic stag weekend, he was in a bit of pain, but we had a most fabulous catch up. And I’m very much looking forward to the next one.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

One giant leap for Deafinitely Girly

Yay! Snow has descended on west London with gusto, and I was greeted by a winter wonderland scene on peeping through my blinds this morning.

So far, everything seems to be working too. My bus worked this morning, the main roads are clear and even the underground is chug chug chugging along.

I do love snow – for me, it is the visual equivilent of silence. OK, maybe not London snow, but country snow seems to mute everything visually. There are no cars to see, no birds to watch, people are huddled indoors, and right now, very few planes are in the sky either. It’s visually silent.

That’s one of the reasons I love the mountains. They are quiet too – both visually and aurally. I am not missing out on anything. And when I need to hear things, I can, because they’re not drowned out by anything.

I also have a very exciting update – my day of stressful phone calls paid off yesterday and I have sorted out my travel insurance/endoscopy issue, all by myself. Well, nearly by myself anyway. When the hospital phoned back last night, I had to hand them over the Gym Buddy so she could take down a phone number I need to call – yes another phone call – but I nearly did something completely on the phone.

This is a massive achievement for me, and it’s proof that my ‘Be brave and use the phone when you absolutely have to’ resolution is actually working. While I know that the phone is not something I can use all the time, it is nice to know that I can get better at using it. And because I am panicking less, I am able to piece together the sounds I can hear more calmly and therefore take a better guess at may be occurring at the other end.

It’s like I used to be doing a jigsaw puzzle blindfolded, but now I am doing a jigsaw puzzle without my glasses on… does that make sense?

Hmmm probably not. But to me it does.

It also makes me happy. Making a successful phone call might be a tiny step for hearing peeps, but it’s a giant step for Deafinitely Girly, and I feel quite proud of myself.

*hums happily and heads out to lunch

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

My day of phone calls

Phew, what a compulsory phone call headache today has been.

You see, I need to buy some travel insurance for my Christmas holidays, and until last year, this was as easy as 1-2-3 on Boots.com and hello Advantage Cards points.

Throw Crohn’s into the mix as well as (gasp) surgery and suddenly I’m more expensive to insure than a prize racehorse travelling by land from England to Australia, unrestrained in the back of a pick-up truck, via every war-torn country possible.

I kid you not – it costs more to insure me for my holiday than it does to insure my house for the whole year. And my house is over 200 years old!

This does not seem fair.

So anyway, I tried doing it online, but in the end, I had to bite the bullet and lift the phone. This was alright, until the complicated questions, when the poor lady at the other end literally had to say each word in her sentence 20 times until I got the gist of what she was saying.

And then, I made the mistake of declaring that I had not had the results of my capsule endoscopy.

*Ping

That’ll be another £40 please.

So, to try and get rid of this, I had to lift the phone and ring my hospital. This involved lots of options and a recorded voice so high it left my frequency frequently. But honestly, I think only dogs could hear her at the point anyway.

Eventually I got through to the probably very busy endoscopy department and had to sheepishly ask them to find the results of my capsule endoscopy so I could go skiing. Honestly, I felt like such a princess, but they were absolutely lovely about it, had no clue what the results are, and are calling me back… I hope.

I honestly do not know how people make phone calls all the time – it is so stressful and half the time I come off the phone with little or no idea about what just happened, which when it comes to insurance, is never a good thing.

In an ideal world, one day, all these companies would have an instant messenger service for people like me, so that we could chat easily about what I wanted and it would all be there as instantly as a phone call would be for hearing peeps. But then you have fraud issues and what not, so I can understand why this doesn’t exist yet.

It seems however, that the obvious thing is to simply not get anything else wrong with me – especially not something that causes those online health questionnaires to crash the moment I type my condition into them. So, Body, if you’re listening, ‘Crohn’s and deafness are quite enough for the moment, thank you. That will be all.’

DG

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