Thursday, 22 December 2011

Deafinitely Girly's noisy morning

Last night I went to bed at 10.30, woke at 3am and woke at 5am. The 2nd time, I was so convinced it was time to get up that I switched on my bedside lamp and lay in the brightness, clearing the sleep from my eyes.

Then I put my glasses on and looked at the clock.

Hmm!

However, there's something lovely about being awake at that time of the morning. It's so peaceful and still. I played my old game of 'what can I hear?' and heard the howl of an early morning flight, departing from Heathrow, the rumble of another arriving.

It was so quiet. Until I actually decided to get up that is.

Once in the bathroom, I dropped the heavy metal loo roll holder on the floor.

Crash it went, in the very next room to where The Girl That Can't Help Knit was trying to sleep.

I picked it up, put it back together and dropped it again.

Crash it went… louder this time.

Once in the shower, I proceeded to drop everything.

Crash it all went, including a giant bottle of TIGI shampoo, which landed on my foot and caused me to stumble backwards over my bath edge and onto the floor with a...

Yep, you guessed it, CRASH!

All this has left me rather nervously anticipating an email of complaint from my neighbour, but seeing as she was crashing around herself yesterday evening, I'm hoping she'll think better and just scuttle back under her rock.

I don't know why it is, but whenever I try to be quiet, i am noisy. Just like if I try to diet I eat twice as much as usual, and if I try to be myself – especially on dates – I become this crazy woman.


Now I'm on the bus to work and I'm trying not to fall asleep, so naturally my eyes keep falling shut.

So I think today I am going to try to be noisy, try not to be myself and try to sleep at every opportunity. And if that all goes to plan, it should be a very good day indeed.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Thinking of Kristian Anderson

One of the people I follow on Twitter is dying.

I first wrote about him here, and since then he's done some amazing things. He's travelled to America, he's met Oprah, he's battled and battled to fight the cancer consuming his body.

A few months ago, he was told he wouldn't win his fight, and the fear and anguish on his Twitter feed was palpable.

Indeed, one morning when I awoke to a tweet about being frightened about dying, I cried all the way to work on the bus.

I have continued to follow his progress and gradually a shift has happened. His tweets have become calmer, he has appeared to accept what is going to happen to him. This morning he tweeted that he was ready to go home. Ready to die.

With Christmas nearly here, I can only hope that he gets to see one more Christmas with his gorgeous sons and wife.

Do you know what? If you do just one thing today, this week, this life, make it to have a thankful thought or be there for someone you really love. Don't sweat the small stuff and remember those facing the big stuff.

I for one, will never forget Kristian Anderson. Not while he's alive, and not after he's died.

And from the other side of the world, on this cold December day, I hope he feels the comfort of everyone's good wishes.

I wish you could get well soon Kristian, I really do.

Love DG
x

Monday, 19 December 2011

Deafinitely Girly's pre-Christmas clearout

Good morning from my freezing, unheated bus – the only glow coming from the amazing sunrise…

And what a brilliant weekend I had.

On Friday, I met up with Accent Man and I think we should both be congratulated for not falling asleep in our dinner. After we both had pretty mad nights out, we were more than a little tired, and this played havoc with me understanding what he was saying… and actually with him understanding me, too. As I face-planted my duvet for a full 10-hour kip, I couldn't help but curse the Christmas season for making us all so tired and busy.

Anyway on Saturday I was up bright and early to join the Singing Swede for a punishing gym class – it was so punishing that we both came out with faces redder than Santa's, but with stomachs considerably flatter.

On my way home from the gym I took a wrong turn and ended up at IKEA – surely a recipe for self harm on a Saturday morning, but surprisingly it was really rather empty and I whizzed around the market place picking up the things I needed, and of course the things I didn't, too.

And Sunday? Well after a half-hearted workout with the Singing Swede and a wholehearted catch up with her on the running machine, it was time for some life admin. To throw away the thousands of photographs that will never make the album cut, to clear out the crap I will never wear, read or use again and to sort my head out for 2012…

Sitting on my living room floor, surrounded by photos of my eight years in London, I couldn't help but feel my tired spirits lifted by the knowledge that, even with their challenges, they've been a good eight years.

And with an emptier, more organised flat, I know I've made room for the next eight years, too.

Friday, 16 December 2011

I've sponsored a Hearing Dog

When it comes to giving money to charity, I'm not sure I do enough.

I'm as guilty as the next person of dodging charity muggers 'chuggers' in the street – always being careful to be polite but at the same time being firm that, no, I don't want to give my bank details to a stranger on the street who's stalked me halfway to Boots in my lunch hour, when all I want is a sandwich and a packet of crisps.

It's these uncharitable feelings that have been sitting heavily on my mind these past few months and I've been trying to work out if I can find a middle ground – a happy medium where I can hold my head up and say to chuggers, 'No thanks, I already give money to my chosen charities.'

But then of course, there's the dilemma of who to support. When there are world disasters – the flooding in Pakistan, tsunamis, earthquakes etc, I will always give money through Oxfam or Unicef, but apart from that, I don't make a regular donation to anyone.

The other day, I got caught my a chugger who convinced me to part with £5 to fund 15 minutes of care with Marie Curie – I did not mind doing this, either. What I did mind though, was being hounded with phone calls for the next week from the charity wanting more money.

That pissed me off.

Anyway, today, in my hungover, post-Christmas party state, I've been sitting at my desk – working – and also wondering who I'd like to support in the new year. Which charity I'd like to donate to regularly, and make a difference to.

And suddenly it hit me, and I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it before: Hearing Dogs for the Deaf.

You see, one day, I would like a Hearing Dog. I would like to have that security of knowing that a bundle of fur would alert me if something out of my range was occurring, be it a child crying, an alarm going off, or my neighbour having a shrieking fit about my very existence.

But how can I possibly expect to ask for a Hearing Dog, if I don't support the charity that's responsible for training and caring for these life-changing animals? Quite frankly, I can't.

As a kid, I did loads of fundraising for Hearing Dogs. I went carol singing, I did sponsored silences, which those who know me vouch for is a very tricky thing indeed, and I once even did a sponsored famine.

But then I stopped and now it's time to start again.

So today, I started by sponsoring a puppy – a brown cocker spaniel called Coco, who looks so cute, it left me wishing I could be her owner…

But that puppy called Coco will go to someone who really needs her right now. She'll change their life, she'll be their ears, and what could be better than that?

And as I sit here, in my post-Christmas party hungover state, I can't think of a single thing.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Deafinitely Girly and the toys I can't hear

Today is a very special day. It's Mini Clog and Northern Boy's fifth birthdays.

The former is Big Bro's son – he should soon be opening a Spiderman costume that I posted to him – and the latter is Head Girl's first little boy.

I still remember the day I got a texts to say they'd both been born. I was in HMV in my lunch hour in Leicester Square and I promptly burst into tears while trying to buy a Goo Goo Dolls album – the till guy was a little disturbed.

I'm not sure quite why I had such an extreme reaction. I guess it just felt so surreal that at 26 I was an aunt and my best friend since i was 11 was now a mum.

Thankfully, I no longer have this extreme reaction to the arrival of my friends' children – and there are quite a few these days. Even better, I'm apparently balanced enough to be godmother to two of them, but I'll never forget the way I felt on that day – a mix of happiness but knowledge that everything was now changing.

Anyway, the countdown is now on for Christmas – the tree is up and looks like an explosion in a tat factory, the poinsettias are out and at some point there will be some mince pie making.

I love Christmas. I love walking down the street peeking through people's windows at night and seeing what they've done for decorations. I love the fact that all the Christmas lights make it so much easier to lipread in the dark, and I love that I get to go toy shopping for the little people in my life. Having a justifiable reason to be in Hamley's is never a bad thing.

As a kid, before I knew that I was deaf, I never really understood a lot of toys – the ones that spoke or beeped or chimed… I thought that half the challenge was guessing what they were doing. I thought the point of the mini keyboard I was given one year was so you could compose tunes without being able to hear them and then hold it up to your ear to play it back and see what you'd created.

One year I got a red walkman and the latest Kylie album and I remember wondering why it had a volume control when I could only hear it on the highest setting, and I also thought Kylie made up the words as she went along, so I did, too – to this day I reckon this helped me get my first at uni in writing poetry!

But what this does mean is that when I'm in Hamley's choosing Christmas presents for the little people in my life, I'm completely oblivious to just how noisy they could end up being…

So apologies to all my friends with children this year. I didn't know I'd bought the noisiest toys in the shop… honest!

Monday, 12 December 2011

A very Thankful Monday

Coo-eeee I'm back!

Last week's silence was due to a rather busy time in my day job, which left me very little spare brain power to blog.

But I have exciting news. I am one step closer to getting broadband, thanks to the helpful peeps at O2.

This means I am one step closer to being able to Skype Big Bro in Holland and SuperCathyFragileMystic in the Wild West Erm... Country.

How amazing is that?

But what's more amazing is the weekend I've just had.

Penthouse Flatmate and First Uni Flatmate came to stay for the weekend bringing with them my goddaughter, Miss D. She's five, and considering I was brought on board to teach her about the fun things in life, I think I'm doing a pretty good job – if you overlook the fact she's going back with a slightly more colorful vocabulary.

Sorry Penthouse Flatmate...

Anyway on the Saturday, after I'd given a guided tour of my flat, which consisted of standing in the hall and pointing at each room off it, we set off to watch The Snowman ballet at the Peacock Theatre.

As the lights went down and the music began, I snuck a look at Miss D, who was sat there, utterly captivated for the entire performance.

And who could blame her – it was truly amazing. A young child's dream scenario and still a great watch for the grown-ups, too.

Quite how a giant snowman melting caused me to tear up, I have no idea, in fact, ahem, I think I just had something in my eye.

Having my flat full of girls and giggling was so fantastic. Seeing London through Miss D's little eyes was so refreshing, and showing Penthouse and Uni Flatmate where I lived made me feel very proud of everything I've achieved.

Then yesterday evening, I went to toast the brilliance of French Boy and wish him Happy Birthday in a local pub. In short, I had a fantastic evening – amongst other things, I learnt how to say Power Shower with a Northern Irish accent. 

Perrrr Sherrrrr...

and I laughed more than I had done in ages.

So today you could say I'm having a very Thankful Monday.

Hope you are, too, peeps.

DG
x

Monday, 5 December 2011

Deafinitey Girly, the broadband and the Mac

Something amazing happened yesterday.

I finally got the point of Skype…

I finally saw the point of broadband…

And I finally realised that I need a new computer – and in an ideal money worry-free world, this would be a Mac Book Pro.

'What?' I hear the people who know me cry. 'Deafinitely Girly might get the internet at home? And hell hasn't frozen over?'

I know, it's mad isn't it. For many years I have resisted this piece of technology because I resent the fact that I have to pay for a phone line I will never use to get broadband, or that if I choose to go with fibre optic without a phone line then the deals aren't that great…

Nose.

Spite.

Face?

That's as maybe, but honestly, if I spend to long thinking about it, I risk combusting with rage.

Anyway, yesterday it turned out that with a combination of a shiny Mac Book, a great broadband speed and Skype, I had the longest, most-coherent chat I've had with Big Bro EVER… lipreading the whole thing.

It was amazing. It was an unbelievable feeling. I now see why other people have this.

I understand it. It's life changing.

It's also expensive. But what I experienced yesterday – the excellence of the picture, the clarity of the sound, the brilliance of the whole thing, made me realise that this is money well spent. This isn't the clichéd £500 a year I could save if I gave up my Pret Latte luxury (I've never bought a latte from Pret in my life), this is an investment worth making proper sacrifices for.

There's just one teeny tiny problem, what comes first? The Mac Book or the internet? If it's the former, then I should be online by this time next year even with a savings plan. If it's the latter, I will be online but without the proper tools to make the most of it.

Chicken or egg? Mac Book or broadband?

I want both of the latter. My neighbour would go mental if I  got the former.

Better get saving eh?

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The hear-changing iPad

Ah what a lovely weekend I had at home with the Rents, doing a spot of Christmas shopping, catching up and giving them iLessons, which were necessary after they became the proud owners of an iPhone and iPad!

It all started when Pa decided he wanted an upgrade on his Nokia, so we popped into their local O2 store.

There, he chose a free iPhone 3GS with 300 minutes, unlimited texts and 100mb data for just £18.50 a month.

While the data is not much, the Rents live in the middle of nowhere – luckily with WiFi – so the chances of him actually being able to get reception enough to use any data when out and about is highly unlikely. Plus, if you go over your data allowance with O2, all that simply happens is they slow it down.

Then there was Ma, who's been hankering after an iPad since she could say iPad. But then came the hunt for the one she wanted in white.

Eventually we tracked one down, and reserved it via my iPhone, in Argos and headed there to pick it up.

Ma completely exhausted from all this running around promptly fell asleep on the sofa after arriving home, so I took the iPad, installed the new iTunes on their computer and set it all up for her so when she woke up, she had a fully functioning iPad, complete with a home screen link to this very blog.

But this wasn't really what Ma wanted the iPad for...

Regular readers will know my lovely Ma is going deaf and this has been incredibly hard for her, especially when it comes to keeping in contact with Big Bro in Clogland.

But then on Sunday morning her iPad pinged as she was reading the news on it in bed.

It was FaceTime, and there on the screen was Big Bro and MicroClog wanting to say hello.

Ma was ecstatic at being able to chat to them with such ease.

Then, that evening, the iPad went off again and this time it was MiniClog wanting to say goodnight to Ma.

Then, two minutes later she was Skyping French Cousin 3 and yakking away to him.

When Pa bought Ma this iPad as an early Christmas present, I don't think he realised that what he was actually doing was giving her back a part of her life her deafness had taken away.

The iPad means she can have easy and regular contact with Big Bro and his family again without the struggle of wondering what's being said.

By just having that little bit of a visual clue to help her decipher the words, Ma can hear so much more than if she was on the phone alone. And even better still? It's free.

So what about me? Has this tempted me to get internet at home and buy an iPad?

Honestly? Yes.

Although I would need people to speak quite slowly on Skype or FaceTime so that the lips synced with the voice and I could follow the conversation.

What it has give me though is confidence for the future. Confidence that this way of communicating is only going to get better. That video calls will be the norm and that soon the internet will be so fast, there will be no lipreading delay.

The future is there if you're willing to spend a little bit of extra money.

Thank goodness for MasterCard!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

An iPhone noise alert

Yesterday I bought an app called Tap Tap, which alleges to notify you when sounds occur which you cannot hear.

Guess what?

It's rubbish!

I thought it would be a bit of a long shot but seriously it even goes off when I breathe, and even I draw the line about being notified about this.

Take yesterday evening when I tried it out with my microwave timer. It went off every 5 seconds, despite the fact I changed the sensitivity to low, and at one point it even refused to stop vibrating.

My poor iPhone battery didn't know what had hit it.

But wouldn't it be amazing if there was an iPhone app that would notify you of things? Even pre selected things that you could sound record into it so when they went off it recognised it.

I would choose my door buzzer, cooker alarm and carbon monoxide alarm.

To know for sure that these were going off in the form of a little pop up message would be amazing.

I mean, I know you can get pager systems that do this but to have it in the convenience of your phone would be amazing.

Is it possible?

If anyone knows, please let me know.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Deaf Girl learns to tap

Last week I missed my tap class. 

It was too cold, I was too tired, I had stuff to do.

The reality is that all of the above were just excuses as I'm actually finding tap quite hard now I'm six lessons in.

While this may be because I have the coordination of a drunk newborn foal, last night I went along to check, and actually it's not that.

During the class, I looked at what I was struggling at and what I could do. Anything with just toes was fine but whenever any heel tapping occurred I got hopelessly lost, despite the fact I was watching my teacher's feet like a hawk.

So then instead of staring at her feet, I decided to stare at her face so I might grasp what she was saying. Of course, to do this means I couldn't dance at the same time, but what I realised is that she's calling out a drill while our feet going. She's saying 'toe, heel, swish, heel, toe, heel, toe stamp' or whatever and so people are listening to that while copying her feet.

I can only have one or the other.

It was so frustrating. However, I persevered through the wanting-to-cry part and tried my hardest to be upbeat about the whole thing, and it kind of worked.

By pushing through the fug of failure, I realised that I will grasp it – but to do so, I will just have to learn what the teacher is saying so that while I'm looking at her feet, I can be saying it to myself in my head.

Even better, I've made a new friend – yes I'm 5 – and she's going to buy the biggest bit of wood she can find for her kitchen and we are going to practise together.

I won't give this up, because you see, if I can work out the method to learning tap when you're deaf, it will give me a valuable skill that I can apply to learning other kinds of dance, too.

The world will be my dance floor.

Well, let's take it one tap at a time, eh?

Monday, 21 November 2011

Deafinitly Girly and the Boris Bike

Wow! What a brilliant weekend I had with SouperLouper when she came to visit from the Wild West erm... Country.

On Saturday we woke to bright blue sky and sunshine so jumped on a bus to the nearest Boris Bike station and hired bikes. Having never done this before, it's surprisingly easy to work out what to do and soon we were pedalling through the streets of London bound for nowhere in particular.

This nowhere-in-particular route took us through Marylebone, up into Fitzrovia, across to Holborn, Farringdon, up to the Barbican and around to St Pauls where we stopped for lunch and a look at the Occupy London protest.

We then headed down the river bank to Blackfriars, along to Embankment and Westminster, up past Downing Street, waving at Nelson at Trafalgar Square before turning left up the Mall. There we cycled past the front of Buckingham Palace, up Constitution Hill, through Hyde park Corner and into Hyde Park.

This led us to the Albert Hall into High Street Kensington, up past the Palace, and around Notting Hill to a docking station by Portobello Road.

It was marvellous. I loved every minute of it, which surprised me because I've always been a bit nervous about cycling in London due to not being able to hear what's going on. However, throughout the day I just reminded myself to think like a car and not cycle in the gutter. And it seemed to work. 

Sure I experienced first hand the impatience of London drivers and their need to over take bikes even when it's not physically possible, and sure there were some scary white van man occurrences but on the whole I was complete inspired by the idea of cycling in London and due to the fact that I know all the quieter back roads, I'm actually thinking about cycling to work.

All I need is a nice bright fluorescent jacket to make me stand out as I go on my way – anyone know if they do these in pink?

Friday, 18 November 2011

Hearing at the opera

Today is Thankful Friday and my first post in a while.

I've been rather busy you see with my day job, with seeing Roxette in concert, with getting my Christmas copy into Hearing Times and reading books on my Kindle, and this means I've forgotten to blog.

However, I do have lots of things to be thankful for today, and one of the best is that SouperLouper is coming to stay this weekend. I'm so looking forward to seeing her – it's been 5 months – and we're going to explore the city on Boris bikes and take in an evening of opera.

Can't wait.

I'm especially excited about the opera, which I have decided is definitely the most accessible form of entertainment out there for deaf people like me, as it's almost always subtitled! Recently, I went to see an opera about the holocaust, and while the music was not really my cup of tea, it was marvellous to know what was going on. The only time I got lost was when I fell asleep – much to Jenny M's embarrassment.

I sometimes to marvel at my ability to fall asleep in the most unlikely places. It seems whenever there is loud ongoing noise, I want to sleep. I once fell asleep in the nightclub Bungalow 8 while being chatted up by a Spaniard, and then there was the time I actually kipped right through a Tangerine Dream concert.

To be fair though, apart from Pa – who was loving the whole electronic spectacle complete with a projection of the silent movie Dante's Inferno – I think a lot of the people at that Tangerine Dream concert would have loved to have my ability to sleep in noisy places...

So tomorrow, I am going to do everything possible not to fall asleep. I am going to take sugary sweets to give me a boost, a drink of water to keep me hydrated and matchsticks for my eyelids.

I will be cultured...
I will be cultured...
I will be cultured...

Have a lovely weekend peeps.

DG
x

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Eating out in New York

One of the things I loved about New York was the vast array of places you could choose to eat in each day.

And, although we did indeed eat in a different place for every meal, I felt as though we barely scratched the surface of the culinary delights on offer.

One of my biggest fears was ending up in the US equivalent of an Aberdeen Angus Steakhouse so Godmother, who met us in NY from Syracuse, gave us a great tip – ask the concierges and staff in shops where they'd recommend.

This method really works. It meant we had a delicious dinner at the Rock Centre Café overlooking the ice rink at the Rockerfeller Centre in what should have been, but wasn't, a touristy restaurant.

Our fabulous waiter brought me birthday apple pie, complete with candle, plus a delicious espresso martini, and the food was gorgeous.

The next night, by recommendation, we ended up at PJ Clarke's, an amazing burger bar on the corner of 55th and 3rd. With a queue out the door, a bar so narrow I got a bottle of beer knocked down my top and then napkin offers from an array of attentive men, and a buzzing post-work atmosphere, this place was a hit from the start. And the food was excellent, too, with burgers, string onions and skinny fries...

Then there were all the daytime places – the Starbucks in the lobby of the Waldorf Astoria, where we grabbed our coffee before going in search of breakfast. The Pershing Square Café opposite Grand Central Station, which served portions so big that breakfast on my first day lasted me ALL day. Then there was Blooms – an amazing bustling diner which served everything from gigantic hash browns to pancakes and maple syrup.

One place I loved for the atmosphere was Viand on Madison Avenue. This long, skinny restaurant with a seated bar and tables for two opposite had a kind of shut-up-and-eat atmosphere about it. Coffee was stronger than Popeye and food was cooked right there in front of you before being served up by gruff Italians.

I LOVED it.

For afternoon coffee, the Financier, just of 3rd Avenue and 59th st offered the best Florentines, while Starbucks in Union Square's Barnes & Noble provided a welcome respite from rush-hour madness.

Snacks came from Duane Reade pharmacies – a place that seemed to be more bad for your health than good and I may have consumed more than a couple of peanut butter m&ms.

And the weirdest thing? I lost 4lb during my trip to the Big Apple! All that walking and assuming that just because I could see the Chrysler Building from where I was meant it wasn't that far, cause me to walk off the bagels I ate that were as big as my head and the amazing burgers of PJ Clarke's.

In fact, next time I want to go on a diet, I'm off to New York...

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Deaf girly and the flashing fire alarm

I don't know about you, but sometimes the whole 'staying in hotels and wondering if I will hear the fire alarm thing' stresses me out.

But then I am a natural worrier. I don't get on a boat without first wondering where the lifeboats are, a plane without counting my seats to the emergency exit, and car without first making sure the driver isn't a complete nutter…

Anyway, back the the hotel thing… on the rare occasions that a flashing light alarm is available I still wonder whether this method will wake me in the event of an emergency, so as a result remain nervous.

Twenty-five floors up the Waldorf Astoria I was more than a little nervous , but the excitement of the view and the promise of a fun day ahead meant, on our first night in the city, I went off to sleep with ease until..

WAHOOWAAHOOO

*flash, flash, flash, flash

I woke up at 1am with my room being turned into a disco. The strobe light was going, the table lamps had come on and the fire alarm, which was low and loud enough for my ears to pick up was going off.

And so, no longer worried about whether the fire alarm would wake me, I instead to begin wonder how long it would take to get down 25 flights of stairs in a hurry if the building really is on fire? Particularly as I'd already seen the average age in the Waldorf Astoria was not all that spritely.

But I needn't have worried because soon, amid the still flashing strobe – yes, by this point it was causing me to see stars, too – a voice came over a tannoy and said something... And after a quick translation from my Rents, it was established that the whole thing was a false alarm and we could all go back to sleep.

As I lay there, the flashing of the strobe light indelibly imprinted on my now-shut eyelids, adrenalin coursing through my weary traveller body, I couldn't help grinning to myself.

I'd been woken by a flashing fire alarm. These things actually work for me.

And at least if mine ever goes off at home, I will have fewer stairs to head down – just several bikes to dodge and some flammable materials I hope don't explode in my neighbour's hallway.

Hmmm, I think I'll move back to the Waldorf Astoria.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Flying to New York

I had a very legitimate reason for not blogging last week, and here it is;

I was in New York!

*Squeal!

I've never been to the Big Apple before and having only seen it in the movies and of course Sex & the City, I didn't really know what I would make of it.

So let's start at the very beginning of the adventure shall we? In a week of NYC blogs.

So, it really started the day before we left when I tried to check us in to our flight, which we booked through BA but that was code shared with American Airlines. With BA you can log in and choose seats 24 hours before your flight. With AA, the seats are given over to the airport 24 hours in advance, and the gods of bad plane seating had allocated us seats at the back in the middle of a row of five.

Frustrated and slightly worried about how Pa and his new hip would cope being shoehorned into a tiny row, I rang the airline, armed with a list of yes/no questions so it didn't matter if I didn't hear. And they were very helpful.

Could I do anything about our allocated seating? Yes

Could they do anything about it? No

Would I have to fix it at the airport? Yes

Would this mean getting there early? Yes

And so we did. Embarrassingly early. But it worked. We were allocated bulkhead seats at the front of cattle class with room for Pa and also good for me as when the flight attendants spoke to me, they could crouch down to my level and make it easier to lipread.

What was even better is that even in economy there were plug sockets, so I was able to plug in my DVD player and watch subtitled movies the whole way. Subtitled New York-themed movies!

The service on the flight was also excellent. Our flight attendant was amazing. I explained to him I was deaf and every announcement that was made he came to check I knew what was going on. He even attempted to make me laugh right after he told me the flight crew were being seated 45 minutes early because it was going to be a very bumpy and snowy landing.

Not being a massive fan of turbulence, I ended up being brilliantly distracted by the Fab Family sat to our right.

The lovely guy told me all about the places where I should eat in New York, he explained why it was more bumpy at some times than others, and he told me how much he loved New York City.

It was amazing. I forgot about the turbulence and the fact that I had an amazing city to discover began to sink in.

We bade them farewell at JFK and hopped in a yellow taxi in the snow storm.

Three days later by the restrooms in the basement of Century 21 (which is basically TK Maxx on acid) I looked up to see the Fab Family right there in front of me.

On the big island that is Manhattan, I had bumped into the only people I knew of in the city, in the shadow of the former World Trade Centre. What a bizarre coincidence?

It was fabulous to see them again and share my experience of New York – although I never did get to go to the Brandy Library…  but there is always next time…

But what I did do was walk for miles and miles and miles and miles… but I will tell you all about that tomorrow.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Captions on plane flights

This morning I got up, got dressed and left my house 25 minutes earlier than usual simply because I neglected to look at my watch while getting ready.

Striding down my road – in the dark – it suddenly occurred to me that it was rather quiet… and dark, and sure enough the time was a good enough explanation for this.

To celebrate my stupidity, I treated myself to a cheese and Marmite panini in Starbucks and read my book. And now, I actually feel rested as I start my working day.

This week has been one of barely suppressed excitement, because next week I am going on holiday – and before any burglars get any ideas, I have a housesitter, a very marvellous one indeed.

In preparation for my holiday, which includes a long-haul flight, I emailed the airline – British Airways – to ask them about what provisions they made for deaf people with regards to in-flight entertainment.

I asked this because there is nothing worse than having a whole load of movies at your fingertips and not being able to watch them. And I know this because a few years ago, when flying to Istanbul, I watched a whole movie with the language channel on French and didn't notice.

So anyway, their customer services team got back to me incredibly quickly and informed me that the flight I was going on was a shared service with American Airlines. She also told me that  American Airlines have plug sockets – even in economy – so, as long as I bring an adaptor, I can take a portable DVD player with me and watch subtitled movies to my heart's content!

How about that?

I was also told that there has been a note added to my booking so that the crew will know that I can't hear.

I know that offering a plug socket  is not the same as offering accessible in-flight entertainment, but it's a start, isn't it?

But what I want to know, is why there isn't an accessible entertainment system available on planes. SouperLouper got in touch and told me that on a recent Malaysian Airline flight she took, all the films had English subtitles. And the few times I've flown with Turkish Airlines, there's always been some subtitled movies, too. But English-speaking airlines just don't seem to offer this.

Indeed, a guest blogger and Twitter mate, Caroline O'Neil also looked into this issue, and her experience can be found here.

Rather alarmingly, what she discovered was that air travel is exempt from the Equality Act 2010.

How the heck does that make sense?

A quick google reveals that Emirates is also now offering captioned films, so hopefully other airlines will soon follow. But in the meantime, I think the only solution is to travel on non-English speaking airlines. At least that way, SOMETHING will be subtitled other than the in-flight safety video, because as Caroline said in her post, watching that 109 times is not anyone's idea of fun!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Deafinitely Girly's broken her feeds

It would seem that I've somehow broken by feedburner  thingymagicwotsit... I have done my best to fix it, which means typing random things in random boxes and clicking yes and no indiscriminately and it seems to have worked... I THINK.

However, if you get my blog via a feedthingy, could you please let me know that you've got this so that I can stop stressing out about why I hardly get any hits on my blog at the mo and start blogging again.

Many thanks
DG

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Deaf girly loves O2!

This week I have praise for O2!

I know, I was shocked to be writing that sentence, too, but after yet another hideous iPhone bill due to my ability to go over the 500 free text messages included in my plan, I decided enough was enough.

I had a look online at the upgrade/downgrade options and got completely confused before emailing O2 for advice. Somehow my email must have gone twice as one person contacted me and said pop into a store to discuss things, and the other person, despite my email explaining my deafness, suggested I call customer services.

Hmmmm

So on Saturday I went to a central London O2 store and the god-of-reducing-your-phone-bill gave me Sam!

Now, I'm pretty sure my love for Sam is not mutual as I asked more questions in the 30 minutes I was there than he probably gets in a week, but he answered them all with charm and grace.

I explained to him my bill issue, and he saw it with his own shocked eyes when he called my details up. I then explained to him the 'dropping my phone down the loo' issue and that although I'm due an upgrade, my phone is not yet a year old so it would be a sheer indulgence to get another one – particularly having paid a £150 insurance excess on my first one.

Anyway, back to Sam. He was brilliant! He recommended I move to a rolling sim-only contract for just £10.50 with a data bolt on of £10 and the best thing? I get unlimited texts. I lamented about the lack of unlimited data but he showed me that this was something I actually didn't need and that if it was readily available to all O2 customers then everyone's network speed would be slower.

He also explained to me that as I am on a rolling contract, I can upgrade my phone any time to a shiny iPhone 4S but that this buys me some time to wear this phone out and for the newer model to go down in price.

I also cancelled my insurance (saving me another £15) because if I lose this phone, it will be cheaper to just upgrade than pay another £150 excess.

In all, the lovely Sam managed to shave £50 off my phone bill and while this isn't great news for O2 in terms of income in the short term, in the long term it has dramatically reduced the chances of me changing mobile providers.

What was even better was that Sam, noticing how slow my iPhone was showed me that if you double click the bottom button it brings up a base bar of all the apps that are open. I did not know about this. And that meant that my phone had all its apps open all the time – and had done for the last year.

I left that O2 shop very, very happy. Happy that the stress of the expense of my iPhone bill had been dramatically reduced. Happy that my faith in O2 had once again been restored, and happy that when I do decide to upgrade and get a calling plan to suit me, I know just the man to ask

Thanks O2. You did good!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

My bus journey of memories

Today, as I travelled through the crisp and bright London streets on my bus, I closed my eyes and conjured up memories from my past.

Memories that were formed in places that I pass by every day, but rarely stop to think about.

On my bus journey to work, there are many. And today, all the memories I'm seeing a specific to my fabulous London family. The first burger I had during a summer work placement in London at 15; the time we went rollerblading in Hyde Park and I 'accidentally' crashed into a gorgeous man; the dinner party behind Selfridges where we sat on upturned bins, and the tree planting there, too.

Thanks to my photographic memory, my eyes can put the people who are missing from the memory back in. My aural memory conjures up their laugh, and in a flash I can see a moment between us all, captured in time.

Back then, I took all that for granted. Now I don't. The memories you make today should last forever. More than 2,566 days have past since my last memory was made of my complete London family. Treasure your memories and keep them safe, because one day that is all you will have. And for me, these memories are what will keep me going today.

Deaf Girly: Finding the good in my deafness

Most regular readers of this blog will know that I'm pretty comfortable with my deafness in the workplace these days. I've got a...