I've been having a fantastically relaxing Easter break with The Rents, recovering from my cold, getting loads of sleep, eating the obligatory chocolate for breakfast on Easter Day.
Ma and I have also been having a bit of fun doing some shopping in some fabulous shops that simply don't exist in the Big Smoke. Now I know I'm going on a summer holiday, I wanted to get a new bikini so she took me to this massive shop down the road from their house and we had a great time trying everything on.
Halfway through our trying-on session, I realised that the music had stopped. Odd I thought, but then thought nothing more of it. I could also hear very faintly, the tinny tannoy going off every now and again, but as Ma is catching me up in the deaf stakes these days, neither of us had a clue what was being said.
So we carried on, until it got so quiet that I realised that the store was probably closing early - it was Good Friday after all - so I hurried Ma and we rushed out of the changing room into a closed store.
It was so embarrassing. And the staff were kind of shocked to see us, too. And a little bit cross.
As we paid at a till they had to reopen, I asked the till girl if announcements had been made about the store closing two hours earlier than the time advertised on the door. 'Yes,' she replied… there had apparently been loads.
Keen to let her know we were not just disobedient shoppers, I explained that my Ma and I were deaf and she smiled politely/awkwardly/vaguely so I left it at that and we legged it from the store.
But this experience hit a bit of a raw nerve with me. As a child when I was going deaf and didn't know it, I would often get left places as I didn't hear the calls to leave. I would come downstairs in the house and not be able to find anyone as I hadn't heard their calls that they would be in the garden, or I would be on a school trip and the rest of the group would move on and I'd still be stood there engrossed in whatever we had been looking at.
As an adult, this experience transferred to sitting on buses that had already terminated, waiting at the doors of a train carriage that didn't open due to a short platform because I hadn't heard the announcement, and at my last job, turning around at work to find the whole building in the process of a fire evacuation and no one had thought to tell me.
It's embarrassing and sometimes downright scary and, while walking into a shut shop from the changing room might not bother most people, it made me feel incredibly stupid. It's why I always check the opening hours of store before I go in, I hate that feeling of announcements being made and me not realising what's going on until someone actually tells me, because when they tell me, they're not going to know they're telling a deaf person, in their mind they're telling a person who is holding them up from getting home for the evening.
Of course there's nothing I can really do about this, and the incident in my Ma's local shop is almost forgotten…almost. Think I might buy my next bikini online though, or first thing in the morning… just in case.