Thursday, 31 March 2011

The not-so fabulous 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee

Ok, so a production that gets great reviews in national papers… should be good, right?

Anything that comes out of the Donmar Warehouse… should be good right?

A comedy musical about a spelling bee… should be intriguing and vaguely amusing at the very least, right?

Wrong, wrong and wrong!

My viewing of the 25th Annual Spelling Bee was spent wondering if there was an interval so that I could escape as soon as possible. When it became apparent there wasn't an interval, my expression became one of faint desperation, and looking around the audience, it became clear that I was not alone in feeling this way.

I would say that around 30% of my fellow viewers looked as though they'd have been happier sticking pins under their toenails than sitting through what can only be described as High School Musical on acid... and I actually quite liked High School Musical!

Now, what I do want to get straight is that the level of talent of the actors in this musical was excellent. They sang well, they acted well, they danced well, and they made the best of a bad thing…

I guess you're hoping I'm going to get to the point here, list the flaws, say what went wrong, but it's taken me three days to digest the thing enough to write this blog at all.

Two hours after it had finished, I was still jabbering in disbelief at the fact I'd actually witnessed such rubbish at the Donmar Warehouse. The same Donmar Warehouse that I had sobbed my way through King Lear two months earlier, declaring it amazing, and Derek Jacobi, incredible. It just doesn't make sense.

And for this reason, I think the 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee is a bit like the Emperor’s New Clothes. It should be brilliant, because it's at the Donmar Warehouse, so people feel obliged to enjoy it. Even I felt myself getting sucked in to that mindset, until Jesus came on stage and there was a song about an erection.

A quick Google reveals this strange musical has won plenty of awards and acclaim, so maybe it has an Emperor’s New Clothes’ effect wherever it goes.

I just can’t find any redeeming features… it’s all just so wrong. It's a walking cliché, a run of bad, obvious, embarrassing dad jokes, with Jesus in it, and one black cast member who is an ex-criminal on probation.

It was a pantomime in a thinly veiled disguise of sugar-coated drivel.

But it was subtitled, faultlessly, by the lovely Stagetext, which definitely redeems it to a five-star performance in my book!

Monday, 28 March 2011

Dancing at the Silent Disco

It is through bleary eyes, as a result of the 'Spring forward' that I am going to tell you what a marvellous weekend I had!

On Friday night, London cousins 1 & 2 came to stay. They've never stayed at my place before and so we had a DVD fest with Percy Pigs on the side as they filled me in on what they're getting up to.

At 9 and 11, they're growing up fast and it reminded me of how London Aunt and I used to hang out when I was their age.

Saturday was a little busy with a netball tournament to get London Cousin 2 to followed by rugby match of Harlequins versus Gloucester... it was not pretty and saw Gloucester get thrashed 53-15!

*sniff

Jumping on the train afterwards, I vowed to support the winning Boat Race team when I arrived at the river, which meant that when Oxford crossed the line, I was very happy.

Also at the Boat Race festivities were the Singing Swede, GBman and two more singing swedes, and an excited GBman discovered that the pub we were in was holding a silent disco that night.

Intrigued, we decided to go along and for £10 – £5 of which was a refundable deposit – we got some wireless headphones with two channels and a volume control.

Walking into a largely silent marquee of dancing people was the most surreal experience, so we quickly donned our headphones and found that Don't Stop Me Now by Queen was blaring out. Cranking up the volume, we all got dancing, and it was fabulous fun.

What was even better was that when I took my headphones off, I could hear! So that means that when I got chatting to a guy called George, it all went very well...

*blush

In fact, I didn't even need to tell George about my deafness because it just wasn’t an issue.

Honestly, it was the best night out I've had in ages. I felt like me again. The old, sociable, chatting to guys, not feeling like the ugly one on the sidelines me!

It was both uplifting and overwhelming as I realized how much I'd been missing out on these last few years as I've shied away from bars and meeting new people...

So it seems silent discos are the way forward. Expect to see me throwing some shapes at the next one soon!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Make mine a mead

Last night I had the most marvelous dinner with London Aunt, the Scientific Chef and Event Whizz. It was six courses long and included a blowtorched steak.

Up until last night, I had never had blowtorched steak. Nor had I had duck cooked in a water bath at the perfect temperature for the protein bonding or something scientificky.

There was also a spicy pumpkin soup, some sort of amazing paté and poached pears with crème fraiche and chilli chocolate to finish.

The Scientific Chef excelled himself. He whipped up dishes quicker than a flash, served up wine to complement each course and finally, from the bees that reside in his back garden, we had mead.

I LOVE MEAD! And with the BBC recently reporting that it’s making a come back, we were right on trend, too!

Seriously, you can see why people got so blotto on it in the olden days. It’s a sweet tasting liquid that kicks like a mule as it goes down.

*hic

I’d heartily recommend that you try some as soon as possible…

And on that note, I’m off to meet the Singing Swede and GBman for a night of revelry. The absence of mead shall be dealt with by the presence of wine.

Hurrah!

Have a sunshiny evening, peeps.

DG
x

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

'Hearing' in Switzerland

And it’s Tuesday already!

The week is flying by, especially as I had such a wonderful weekend in Switzerland visiting First Ever Friend.

As I’ve mentioned many times, she’s getting married to Basel Boy this summer and I am the bridesmaid/witness thing, which involves wearing a nice dress and having a party, so I went out for a weekend of chatting about what she wants and what my role is going to be.

It sounds great to be honest – I have got to make the cake, ensure First Ever Friend and Basel Boy eat as well as drink on the day, so they don’t get totally plastered before the sun goes down, and I’ve also got to make sure that we all enjoy a gin & tonic together.

All this, I can do…

My dress has pockets, so if necessary, I will fill them with biscuits to ensure that none of us gets too sloshed before the evening’s out.

On Saturday evening, we went for dinner with Mr and Mrs Hug – First Ever Friend’s Ma and Pa – which was lovely, and the Swiss Man in Japan was there, too, as he’s not in Japan right now.

By Sunday however, First Ever Friend had had enough of wedding stuff, plus the sun came out, so we took off up a hill in a cable car and went for the MOST beautiful walk. In the distance the formidable Eiger stood, still a little snow covered and mist in the valley below it, while all around us, the tree branches were caked with a crystal clear layer of ice. It was amazing!

One of the things I noticed about being in Switzerland was how people assumed I understood German. I do not understand German. Heck, I barely understand English when it is spoken to me in shops, but as we went around the stores, getting bits and bobs for the wedding and all the shop assistants spoke to First Ever Friend, I found myself nodding and smiling and copying their body language in the same way that I do in bars over here when I can’t hear anything. This was all well and good until they spoke German to me and got a panicked look in return!

But what was also weird was that by focusing on their hand gestures and body language, quite often I was able to pick up the basic gist of what was going on. So actually, I often forgot they were speaking German. It was kind of fun.

Unfortunately for First Ever Friend, this inspired me to dig out my basic German – learnt at school, under duress after starting secondary school halfway through a school year – and begin speaking it. For First Ever Friend, this must have been like having a toddler tagging along for the day, as I pointed at things and used my toddler German to state what I saw. The last time I learnt German, I was 12, and that is the only age I know. So when I say, ‘Ich bin zwolf’ for I am 12, it often leads people to look at me somewhat oddly. But guess what, I have upgraded my German – I can now say, ‘I am 30’ – Ich bin dreisig – instead… and that is what I said. Several hundred times.

I bet First Ever Friend is glad I’m not back until June… perhaps by then, I will have a few more sentences under my belt. Most importantly: ‘Three gin and tonics please!’

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Deaf Girly is off on an adventure!

Hurrah!

Today is Thankful Friday – on Thursday – as I have a long weekend to go and see First Ever Friend, over the sea and far away.

It will be great to see her and, as it turns out, Swiss Boy – her brother, who is making his way back from Tokyo as I type this. While it will be lovely to see him, I feel sad for him that he’s had to leave the place he calls home.

So that’s it. I’m off on an adventure in an airplane – I don’t much like flying… so I'm going to buy crossword book and some sweeties for the journey to keep me occupied.

And for new readers, no I am not 84. I’m 30…

Which is practically grown up!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

I can't blame this one on my deafness...

Today has so far been challenging…

So here’s the situation. First Ever Friend emailed me this morning to get my flight details for the weekend. I logged into the Manage My Booking section of British Airways website excitedly – I cannot wait to see her – and got my outgoing flight details, which I tapped into my email.

I then started to write, ‘And I go home on Sunday at…’ before glancing at the details on the BA site, which clearly stated Saturday 19 March.

*Squeak!

Somehow, I booked my long weekend until Saturday, not Sunday!! Cue a LOT of panicking and frantic clicking to see if I could change it to the Sunday. I could, but at a charge of £87, which in the light of recent expenses, which included a £290 gas bill and other stuff I can’t even mention without my blood pressure shooting higher than an active volcano, was not the best news I’ve ever had.

A kindly colleague took pity on me and, because I cannot, rang BA to implore them to waive the charge that I was encountering because of my own stupidity – I can't blame this one on my deafness! – but not surprisingly, they were unwilling to budge.

My day was improved however, by an impromptu lunch with SuperCathyFragileMystic. It was lovely to see her and catch up and find that right now we share the same views, hopes and worries about so many things. I hope one day we’ll get our wish of living in adjacent cottages in the middle of the countryside, so that we can gossip over the garden fence and drink cups of tea by day and wine by night.

It’s not that I don’t like London. It’s that I don’t like London right now. OK, so spring is allegedly here. But today it’s cold and grey. Every section of road on my way to work is being dug up. Every day there is a new crisis befalling my bus home that causes it to terminate eight stops too soon, and every day I wake up realising that while I love my flat and I love my job, I’m less and less in love with what London is becoming and what I’m becoming in London.

I’m pretty sure that it’s just that I’ve had a monstrous few days in terms of dealing with crap I, and other people have created, and that I’ll soon be back to my sparky self, getting mad about the situation, rather than sad.

But for now, I’m very glad my Pa is in town and he’s coming for tea. We’ve got leftover shepherds pie as Miss K and Froggy came for dinner last night. But first thing on the list will be a great big hug from him. Even at 30, a hug really can make everything better.

My Pa doesn’t do hugs – he’s rather British like that, and it’s not really his thing – but on meeting him tonight, they will be compulsory.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Deafness is golden

Regular readers will know that last spring, a spider built its web across my garden path every morning and every afternoon so that in order to my front door, I had to demolish it, sending the spider pinging into the bushes!!!!

This morning, he got his revenge as, since almost a year has past since these shenanigans, I was completely unprepared for the web that I walked smack bang into as I left for work. And worse still, I have no idea where the spider went, so for all I know he could be making a commute to central London in my snood.

Bleurgh, just the thought of it is making me twitch and itch on the bus, so it's little wonder I have an empty seat next to me. If the spider has any sense, he will get out of my snood, and make a hasty getaway.

Anyway, another sign that spring is here is that I've started waking up with a erm... spring in step!

The whole winter I've been best friends with my snooze button, but now I'm awake before my vibrating alarm clock has so much of a chance to even shake a little bit. It's a welcome change!

The only problem with this is that I am leaving for work earlier, which means I am on the school-run bus. Now this would be fine if teenage boys voices weren't so loud! Seriously, I feel totally hearing on this bus, except for the fact I have no idea what the boy behind me is whooping about. They’re all sat on the back row, a jungle of bags and blazers surrounding them, literally behaving like primates. It's incredible.

But it’s almost unbearable, too! I want my usually quiet commuter bus, which, apart from the occasional selfish person chatting on their phone, contains nothing but silent, reading, iPhone-playing people.

To hearing peeps, there may be a plethora of sounds assaulting their senses, but for me, any sounds they might hear are out of my hearing frequency.

They say silence is golden. But really I think deafness is.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Alice in Wonderland at Covent Garden

Last Thursday I went to see the Royal Ballet production of Alice in Wonderland at The Royal Opera House with Snowboarding Boy.

In short, it was splendid. Even if the soaring temperatures, standing tickets and 70-minute first act meant Snowboarding Boy almost passed out.

A little light on the dancing, this production is a visual feast of colour, costumes and characters, and the clever attention to detail means that it's not too apparent that they have squeezed a massively long and complicated story into an evening's entertainment.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing however, was the use of film. This illustrated Alice's fall down the rabbit hole, her massive growth and her shrinkage too, and each time, it took very little imagination to really believe what was going on.

The Queen of Hearts was perhaps the most entertaining character. She swept in in a heart-themed box on wheels, which was then opened to reveal the brow-beaten king inside. Her dance with various characters was hilarious as they dropped her, lifted her in the most inelegant way and generally made a fool out of her.

And Alice? A brunette in a purple dress, I thought she was wonderful. With visible expression conveyed to even the standing paupers at the back, she had both elegance and attitude and the sight of her struggling to get through the tiny door, legs flailing, had me in fits of giggles.

In long, it was one of the best performances I have ever seen. But La Fille Mal Gardée is still the best ballet I've ever seen.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Bittersweet Thankful Friday

Today is Thankful Friday and I am thankful that Swiss Boy is OK in Tokyo after the horrendous earthquake that struck Japan, rocking the capital earlier today.

But while he is OK, many others are not. The pictures of the tsunami devestation are quite breathtaking for all the wrong reasons, and I'm sending my thoughts to the people in Japan right now.

And on that sombre note, I wish you all a good weekend.
DG
x

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Deafinitely insulting

Yesterday, The Singing Swede and I had a traumatic wedding dress shopping experience. I had taken her to the shop that shall remain nameless, to show her dresses cheaper than the one she had fallen in love with, to see if she was in love with wedding dresses on the whole, or just that particular dress.

We were there half an hour and ran screaming from the building. Such was the grubbiness of the samples that we immediately got out the antibacterial gel to sanitise ourselves on leaving. It was awful. As was the moment the Singing Swede got the spray nozzle around the wrong way and I got a mouthful of Carex waterless soap.

This saw me stumbling up the road, blowing soapy bubbles everywhere.

So refined, aren’t I?

We then met GBman for a nice dinner and drink to recover and it was lovely. Until GBman said to me, ‘You’re such a prick!’

I sat there shocked, struggling to fit this sentence into the context of my impending visit to Penthouse Flatmate and her family that I had been telling him about.

‘I’m sorry?’ I stuttered.

‘You’re such a prick,’ he said again.

Except he didn’t. He said brick, which is Enid Blyton speak for reliable mate.

Phew! With that confusion cleared up, we got back to watching the Arsenal/Barcelona game, until I asked GBman if anyone famous played for Barcelona and then he really did feel like saying something rude to me.

I’m not a football fan, I must confess. I can easily think of a million things I’d rather do with 90 minutes of my time than watch a bunch of overpaid men kick a ball about, kick each other and roll around the floor writhing in agony for five minutes before getting up and continuing as normal.

I don’t understand the appeal. I never have, and I never will. But I have promised GBman I won’t ask stupid questions again when he’s trying to enjoy the match…

In other news, there was a fire alarm at work today and no one told me about it! I was working away and looked up and everyone was putting their coats on…

Time to put some new batteries in my vibrating pager I think!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

International Women's (deaf girly) Day

Life is one big learning curve, isn’t it?

I certainly rarely get it right; bumbling my way through life, a ball of emotions, clumsily bouncing along this rocky path I’ve chosen.

But while this path is sometimes rocky, it’s also good to stop every now and again for a breather and admire the beautiful view stretched out ahead of me. The view I have climbed endlessly up hill for. The view that is mine and mine alone. The view that, as long as I do my best, should technically only get better.

Of course, as with any view – perfect or otherwise, there is always something blighting it. Growing up in the Wild West erm… Country, I was surrounded by amazing views as far as the Black Mountains over the River Severn. In-between was a considerable amount of hideous sights that, if focused on, could definitely ruin the view. Factories belching smoke, traffic carving a path on bypasses where green fields once lay in the sunshine.

But it’s not those things I remember. It’s the cloudless sky, the grass blowing in the wind, the herd of cows in the distance, the buzzards soaring on the breeze, and the skylarks dipping and diving from their grassy nests. That is what I remember from that view.

And no matter what is blighting my view right now, I need to focus on the amazing things on the horizon. The tales of love, romance, success and courage that touch my life every day. The people whose paths cross mine for amazing reasons, and the people who are sent to challenge me to be a better, stronger, more resilient person.

I know the person who I want to be. I am not her most days. While I have the right balance of impulsiveness and caution, it’s about using them at the right times, and that is what takes the practice.

Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s International Women’s Day today that’s got me thinking about me and my place in the big wide world. It’s a day that celebrates women but that also looks at inspirational women in the world. OK, so I’m not after worldwide recognition, but isn’t it better to inspire than hinder, encourage than discourage, praise than criticise and love than hate?

Corny that may be but ultimately it’s true.

I think that recently I’ve become so lost on my rocky path that I’d forgotten the characteristics that made me, me. So much so, that this blog suffered as a result. OK, there was the odd post about how I’d superglued my hand to my chopping board, but nothing from the heart anymore.

Well peeps, I’m back. Starting from today, I'm going to be the fearless, compassionate deaf girly I know I can be. Won’t you join me please?

Friday, 4 March 2011

A sunny Thankful Friday

Today is Thankful Friday.

The sun is shining, the sky is blue, I am seeing Miss K for a catch up later, I help the Singing Swede find the wedding dress of her dreams yesterday; what’s there not to be thankful for?

I was also very thankful to hear that London Cousin 1 did amazingly well in all her entrance exams and has a choice of schools to go to next year. To celebrate she is allowed to have her very first mobile phone!

How exciting!!!!!

We’re going shopping for it tomorrow and naturally I will be trying to convince her to get a pink one! That reminds me, I now have an extra-special iPhone cover courtesy of my lovely Big Bro – it’s got Deafinitely Girly written on it and it’s a lovely shade of bright pink…

It does mean that if anyone spies it when I’m out and about, my cover will be blown, but if you do, say hello while you’re at it.

And in the meantime, have a wonderful weekend peeps.

DG
x

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Playing swapsies with my hearing

Hahahahaha! This morning I am having a lovely little chuckle to myself and I’m insanely thankful I have some hearing, because in this traffic-jammed bus, where silence has fallen, a man is singing along to his – I kid you not – Walkman!

He is wearing the old-fashioned headphones, and keeps belting out songs in that wonderful out-of-tune way you do when you sing without hearing your voice properly.

Haha! Seriously it's the funniest thing I have ever heard. And being deaf, I really don't get to hear many funny things…

It's rather sweet, that in this inhibited world we live in, he is so uninhibited. Happy to sing without a care in the world. Happy in his own skin.

Last night however, I was less thankful to have hearing. After two classes at the gym, I was shattered and stumbled to bed earlier than usual, only to be woken up at 11.45pm by a group of drunken idiots having a fight outside my house. RIGHT outside my house. It was so noisy that I thought they were inside my house and, to reassure myself that they were just causing agro for each other, I peeked out of my window.

And sure enough, there they were, having a brawl, which went on for ooooh 15 minutes or so and left me wide awake from the adrenalin of it all.

Sometimes I wish I could play swapsies with my hearing. You know how when you were at school and you’d open your lunchbox and all discuss what you’d swap with your mates. I once swapped my entire lunchbox for a Jammy Dodger, such was my love for them.

So, if I could play swapsies with my hearing, I’d swap low frequencies for some clarity; for some of the conversational middle and higher frequencies. So that I slept soundly when drunken men had fights outside my bedroom window, but got to eavesdrop on the bus or in the office. So when the subtitles stopped for no reason during The Model Agency, I could still understand little bit of what they were all bleating about, and so that when I eventually get my cat, I will hear him meow.

So that’s it. Anyone fancy playing hearing swapsies with me? I’ve got quite a good lower frequency. Failing that, I’ve got an Innocent Veg Pot for lunch…

Anyone got a Jammy Dodger?

Subtitled Cinema: Daydreaming of a better deaf world

Sometimes, just sometimes, I allow myself the chance to daydream about all the things on my deaf wishlist coming true... It's a bit li...