Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Deaf Girly and the Baby Monitor

With the madness, the parking wars and the tubes full to the brim, I'm a big fan of online shopping at Christmas. Sure, I support local shops where possible, but sometimes it's all about a glass of mulled wine, a Christmas movie and the endless possibilities of what I can buy for friends and family on the worldwide web.

The only problem with this is the delivery. You see I live in a block of flats. With a buzzer. That I can't hear. I used to be able to hear it with my hearing aids in, but recently I haven't been able to, which means I'm missing deliveries.

Yesterday, after Amazon rang for the third time to say they had been unable to deliver my package – luckily SuperCathyFragileMystic was there to take the call – I finally got confirmation that they would be delivering a package that afternoon. Stressing about the door buzzer, SCFM suggested I download a baby monitor on my iPhone and iPad and set one up opposite the door buzzer to pick up the noise when it went off.

Genius eh?

And so that's what I did. For £2.99 I bought Cloud Baby Monitor and installed it on my tablet, phone and main computer. And it's great. OK, so the flat is so small, it picked up me coughing from the other room, but that also reassured me that it would pick up the tiny bleating noise the buzzer makes that I can just about hear it I press my ear to the intercom system when it's going off.

And so I sat in and waited. I worked on the 2nd draft of my book. I wrapped Christmas presents, drank tea and watched The Gilmore Girls on Netflix. The buzzer didn't go.

I sat in some more. 

And then I decided to check the status of my Amazon order online. 'Delivered to Hall' it had declared, some two hours previously. And while I was happy that after a third attempt, I finally had my Amazon package, I felt a bit cheated that I'd spent hours waiting in for it and rigged up a baby alarm and I didn't get to 'hear' the door buzzer.

The same is not true for my new Nest fire alarm however. I had the pleasure of 'hearing' that – as did my entire building – last week. It's so sensitive to steam that on coming out of the shower, it decided to go off, shouting something intelligible but I presume about the fact it was about to go off and then letting out what I believe must be a piercing alarm. It was so loud that I could feel it. Panicking, I grabbed a chair so I could reach the 'stop going off' button and bashed it repeatedly until the Nest lady stopped talking. It was only then that I looked down and realised that in my panic, my towel had come off and I was stood on a chair, completely naked in front of a big window overlooking a busy street smacking a fire alarm with a shoe.

It's when I think about things like this that I realise there may be another reason Amazon don't want o ring my door buzzer – Fear of the Crazy Lady.

Happy Humpday peeps

DG
x







Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Deaf Girly and the FaceTime fear

Ever since the summer disappeared, I've been in full-on hibernation mode. I'm like a squirrel that won't see food for the next six months – snaffling peanut butter-themed things that FJM and Big Bro sent me, all of which you can imagine are tremendously low in sugar and calories!

So anyway, yesterday after seemingly forgetting I was actually a member of a very expensive gym, I decided to go and pay it a visit and actually work out. It involved getting in my car and driving somewhere. It was cold and getting dark. The traffic was on the cusp of becoming murderous. I almost wavered as I locked the front door. But I didn't.

One minute into my cross trainer workout I was wondering if I'd done enough to work off the three peanut butter cups... but then my phone rang.

Well FaceTime went off to be exact and it was Big Bro calling me on his way home from work. My knee-jerk reaction – probably stemming from my forced-phone call days is to reject any call to my phone. Sometimes I forget that I can actually follow FaceTime.

I looked around the gym. It was basically empty. So sod it, I thought and hit connect. And there was Big Bro and there was I, sweating it out on a cross trainer. After he'd finished laughing his head off, we had a great chat. Me getting more and more out of breath and red in the face, him finding it more and more amusing. Although I have to confess, it is quite hard to lipread while striding along like a mad woman on a cross trainer.

But what was amazing was that by the time I'd found out how he was and told him how I was, 30 minutes had flown by and I'd actually done enough to work off about one quarter of a peanut butter cup, which is better than nothing right?

Obviously, I'm not going to make a habit of FaceTiming at the gym. I don't really want to become the most hated person there, after the ridiculous person who does handstands at the top of the only staircase to get in and generally makes a complete nuisance of themselves while putting the whole thing on Instagram, probably with a scowling me in the background. But it was reassuring after yesterday's blog about not communicating well with kids, that I can keep in touch with people. Not in the email and text sense (which is easy), and all very well and everything but there's nothing quite like hearing (kind of) someone's voice and seeing their face to make you feel connected.

I need to remind myself to FaceTime people more. To ring up the people I miss and love and see their faces rather than relying on text messages and email. OK, so it's not as simply as just picking up the phone. Outside of the big cities, you need a reliable wifi connection to FaceTime and you can't just pick up when you're out and about if you want a reception good enough to lipread on, so yes, it takes more planning. But I need to make that effort.

It's so easy sometimes to sit back and go 'Woe me, I can't use the phone, I can't listen to podcasts, the radio is no good, cinema is only good once a week in July at 4.30pm on a Tuesday,' but the reality is things are so much more awesome than that.

I think I just forget it sometimes. And if I'm honest I am a bit nervous about the whole phone thing. The idea that you're not disturbing people if you call them unannounced as I've always had to plan FaceTimes and have never really used the phone.

Silly really.

So in December I've decided to FaceTime someone once a week (aside from my rents or FJM who I do talk to more often) and keep in touch with the people I miss and love. Be spontaneous...

First on my list is my 93 year old Gma who has just got an iPad... she's not that keen on it, and I've been putting off FaceTiming her in case it's not switched on, or she gets stressed out... but I'm just going to give it a go. After all, this is a women who sends text messages in text speak and can beat most people in the completion of The Times daily crossword... so if she's up for it. So am I.

Happy Tuesday.

DG
x

Monday, 23 November 2015

Deaf Girly and the children

Do you know there are two things that almost never reach my ears when they're undressed:

Cats meowing and children.

Cats are just silently opening their little furry jowls at me – except when I have my hearing aids in and then they make low meowing sounds that I find quite fantastic but no one else hears the same way – but children, while I can hear the noise they are making, it very rarely makes sense. 

I noticed it greatly this weekend – FJM and I met with friends who all had children. There were double figures of children. All under 8. And I personally spoke to none of them. 

I realised as we drove home that I've almost stopped attempting to interact with children as they are so hard for me to hear. And this makes me a little bit sad.

It's something I've thought about before. In fact, when Elle magazine ran a competition for a 500-word piece on Relationship Goals, this was what I entered with. It wasn't selected. But that was OK, because what these 500 words do is remind me that the children who are important will be heard by me. Now and in the future.

So here it is:


DG on Relationship Goals

It’s 4pm on a Saturday and I’m surrounded by a gaggle of children (four to be exact) in the country kitchen of one of my best friends. My boyfriend is busy playing catch with the three boys as they chat about Minecraft, spiders and farts. At least that’s what I think they are talking about, because I can’t hear them. My nine-year-old goddaughter is quizzing me on whether I’ll let her design my wedding dress. I am not engaged. I’m hoping my boyfriend can’t hear her.

But in truth I can’t really hear her either. And it’s not because she has a lisp or talks fast. It’s not even because she looks down to fiddle with her loom band bracelet or that the conversation bounces from one unpredictable subject to another. It’s because I am deaf.

Having lived with my disability for much of my life, I don’t often feel sad about it anymore. I’ve learnt to get by with lipreading, clear explanations to others about my needs and an almost bullish determination to get what I want. When it comes to relationships, it takes me longer to form them. I can’t get to know people easily in a group setting. My best friendships are formed over dinners for two, chats with coffee and cake, FaceTime and text messages. This works very well in the adult world. But with children it’s different. You can tell them you don’t hear. But expecting them to understand what that means is quite a tall order.

When I look at my nine-year-old goddaughter I am filled with terror that I am missing out on getting to know her, that I could be a better godmother and that my deafness is causing me to miss out.

This weekend was no different. Watching my boyfriend effortlessly interact and seeing the kids chase after our car when we left yelling how much they loved him, I felt both a pang of pride for him and heartache for me.

With children you get back what you put in. So I just have to find different ways of interacting with my goddaughter, of getting to know her. This includes giving her an old phone of mine that works over wifi, so I can ‘What’s App’ her and say hello at no expense to her mum. That way she can keep me updated about her world and then the next time I see her I’ll have the right questions and a better ability to follow her quirky, intelligent train of thought.

I know as she gets older, so her understanding of my deafness will get better. But I want to make sure that the promise I made, to be there for her always is honoured. I want to make sure she can talk to me about anything. But most importantly, I want her to remember that just because I don’t always hear her, doesn’t mean I’m not listening. And certainly doesn’t mean I don’t care.


Happy Monday peeps
DG 
XX

Friday, 20 November 2015

Deaf Girly's (very) Thankful Friday

Apologies for the radio silence of late – I've no idea where September, October and November have gone... it seems like yesterday I was sunbathing on our little balcony and now I'm working out how to rig up multiple strings of Christmas lights on it without annoying the neighbours.

Anyway, today I'm having a very thankful Friday as FJM is back in the UK and despite hating peanut butter more than anything in the whole wide world, he bought me back a huge bag of every peanut butter confectionary known to man.

I'm also thankful for a rather amazing person – Country Writer – who has spent the last two months making me believe that the last 18 months were worth all the hard work, fights for plugs in the library  and tea consumption.

So today, after eating Peanut Butter M&Ms for breakfast – it was either that or a pink grapefruit and to be honest it wasn't a hard decision – I went to the post office to try and track down a missing parcel. It's a present for my goddaughter and the Amazon Marketplace seller requested I check at the sorting office before they gave me a refund.

Without thinking about it, I set off without my hearing aids and on arrival realised this was a grave mistake. You see, the armoured counter that the posties are behind has a big metal bit just where I need to see to lipread and so I couldn't hear a thing the guy was saying.

I ducked down and peered through the gap between the glass and the counter – ignoring the funny looks he was giving me – and managed to make sure he knew I was after a book-shaped package and was it there?

He replied something and looked around the front office. I managed to catch that he didn't think it was here. And then he disappeared off, saying something as he left.

I stood there for a moment wondering if he was coming back or whether his parting words had been 'Sorry I can't help you, bye,' and I just hadn't managed to catch them.

And I waited. And I waited.

And the problem I had was that the counter is not manned constantly. You ring a bell once you get there to alert them of your presence and they come from the back of the sorting office and serve you.

After a few minutes I was wondering whether I should just leave. But then I worried that he might be out the back rummaging through hundreds of parcels and come back with my parcel to find me gone. But if he came back around the front to find me there after wishing me goodbye 10 minutes earlier, he might think I was a crazy woman. And I would die of embarrassment.

Deciding I could handle the embarrassment over losing out on getting my goddaughter's Christmas present, I carried on waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

Until finally he reappeared, looked completely unsurprised to see me there, said something that I decided can only have been, 'I don't have your parcel,' and gave me a helpful wave indicating this to be the case.

So this time I left. Sad that the parcel appears to have gone AWOL and vowing to always wear my hearing aids on trips to my local sorting office.

And I should also be vowing to wear them in Sainsbury's it seems – as shortly after my trip to the sorting office, I lost my volume control while buying dinner. FJM says the whole shop knew we were having Fajitas for dinner and that we'd run out of loo roll.

Awesome eh?

Have a lovely weekend peeps

DG
x

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Deaf Girly and The AA

I have been a member of the AA since 1977... three years before I was born.

When I passed my test in 1997, the rents put me on their membership until I finally got my own membership a few years later, which means for at least 15 years, I have been paying the AA a yearly fee to come and rescue me.

And they've been great. When I had my ancient Mini, I met more than my fair share of AA peeps – the exhaust fell off, the seal went on the oil something or other, the battery went flat and numerous other things occurred.

Then the AA brought out a text service (which honestly I have never really trusted) so that if I broke down I wouldn't have to struggle with making a call and I was happy to pay my yearly membership.

This year, for some reason, my auto-payment on my credit card didn't work. I wonder if it's because I had a new credit card issued by my bank and therefore they didn't have my correct details... who knows? But the first I knew about it was a letter informing me that this had happened.

So I tweeted the @TheAA_UK who gave me the customer service email address and I contacted them. Apparently payments cannot be made over email, which I guess is fair enough, but there was no other way for me to renew than to make a call. A bloody phone call. And if I couldn't, then I could get someone else to do it for me.

Now, I am MORE than used to getting people to make phone calls for me. I've had friends book all manner of personal appointments, renew insurance and everything else in between but I am getting a bit embarrassed about asking people...

So I didn't. And then I forgot about it for a while.

This morning, with half an hour to spare before work, I thought I'd contact The AA on live chat and ask them if there was any way (apart from calling) that I could renew my membership. There wasn't apparently – except for via a touch type phone, which I do not use – and also, because I'd left it so long, my membership could no longer be renewed. My bad for sulking about the need to make a phone call I guess... BUT ALSO THEIR BAD TOO, FOR MAKING THAT PHONE CALL NECESSARY IN THE FIRST PLACE!

So now I have no breakdown cover and I am faced with a more expensive fee if I rejoin the AA. So this lunchtime I am going to research the RAC – are they deaf aware? Or The Green Flag? What about them?

But I can't help but feel a bit sad – after all, I remember being so chuffed of my AA membership... of the friendly people who put my little Mini back together when she'd rattled herself apart on the bumpy roads around where I grew up.

And I can't help but feel, in a world where lots of other companies can do alternative ways of taking payments that perhaps the AA should step up and sort it out, too. Before they lose another loyal customer. Before they lose me...


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Deaf Girly's deaf week

I'm having a bit of a deaf week if I'm honest with you. And it's only Tuesday.

I KNOW!

A deaf week for me is when I find myself being constantly reminded of my deafness. In the olden days these weeks would reduce me to a gibbering wreck on the sofa by Friday – holed up with my housemate watching Ally McBeal DVDs and lamenting my need for subtitles.

But these days, I just find myself wondering at or simply side-stepping the issue of me being deaf.

Yesterday of course, there was the Starbucks episode. The 'Pardon, pardon, pardon, NO I DON'T WANT KETCHUP WITH MARMITE, ARE YOU MAD?' event.
Deafness 1. DG 0.

But before that, I failed to mention that I had got up at 5.50am to try a new form of exercise – you see doing a HIT workout in prescription swimming goggles really isn't working out for me. This new exercise routine is downloadable off the internet and is circuit training. You don't need a scrap of hearing – it's all picture based. Brilliant eh?

Deafness 1. DG 1.

Well kind of. You see yesterday morning at 6.15am, halfway through and about to pass out from lack of breathing, FJM stumbled into the living room wondering where I was, and found me, mid step-up on the coffee table holding a 6kg weight. I didn't hear him until he started to laugh and then that scared me so much that I dropped the weight, forgot to breath and almost threw up on the living room floor. Brilliant that deafness of mine, eh?

Well not really. After all, what girl dreams of the man they adore finding her standing on a coffee table, red in the face, hair everywhere, holding his dumbbells (CLEAR OUT YOUR MINDS PEOPLE).

Deafness 2. DG 1.

Last night, neither of us could sleep. I wondered if it was because FJM was still traumatised from his discovery that morning. So he put a podcast on his phone and began to listen. I watched him press play. I knew there was a podcast playing. I could see him chuckling at something funny being said. But I heard nothing. And that made me sad. It reminded me of what I am missing out on. Of the information that hearing people can effortlessly access when they can't sleep, without the blue glow of their mobile phone screen feeding it to them. But then I remembered there is an alternative way of accessing information without a blue glow of a mobile phone screen, and I picked up a book.

Deafness 2. DG 2.

And then I fell asleep. For eight whole hours. And looking back on yesterday, yes, there were loads of ways my deafness kicked my butt and I am sure there will be many more times when I am mortifyingly embarrassed by my deafness. Like the time, my iPad – unbeknown to me – started blaring out Taylor Swift on the tube and an enraged man had to ask me to turn it down. Or the time I thought a shop assistant was asking me if I wanted a bag so I kept saying no and in fact she was asking me to enter my pin – thank goodness for contactless eh?

But I will keep finding ways to kick it right back, because my deafness is going to work with me whether it likes it or not.

Happy Tuesday peeps

DG
x




Monday, 5 October 2015

Deaf Girly in Starbucks

This morning I was reminded embarrassingly of my deafness when, as a special treat, I decided to get a toasted Cheese and Marmite panini before work.

With Starbucks, I always try to pass the Denny's test when giving my order (you know the one where you have to get your entire order through without the waitress asking any qualifying questions) and usually I do well. I make sure if I'm ordering a drink I give the size, clarify that I won't want any bells and whistles and that I don't want anything else. It's a self preservation thing – I find it so hard to hear in Starbucks, Pret, Itsu and all the other breakfast and lunch places in central London.

So today I thought would be relatively straight forward. After all, it was a Cheese and Marmite panini to take away, no hot drinks. But apparently not.

The woman behind the counter asked me something. She asked it again. And again and again. She was embarrassed. I was embarrassed. The information I gave her about being hard of hearing fell on deaf ears. The situation was too far gone to salvage.

Eventually after leaning my head between the till and the counter in such a way that had I been in a bank, I would have set alarms off and been carted away, I managed to grasp that she was asking me whether I wanted Ketchup or brown sauce with my Cheese and Marmite panini.

Never in a million years would I have guessed she was going to ask me that, because ketchup or brown sauce with cheese and marmite seems to categorically wrong that I simply can't envisage it. And that's coming from someone that eats baked beans on lettuce and adds salad cream to practically everything.

Failing the Denny's test was a stark reminder that I am deaf. And while most of the time I can wing it, some days, like today, I fail spectacularly. But just incase, from now on I am going to add that to my Starbucks order.

'Cheese and marmite panini please. Toasted. To take away. No ketchup or brown sauce (no I'm not crazy). No hot or cold drinks. No receipt. Thank you.'

I'll let you know how I get on.

Happy Monday peeps.

DG
x

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Deaf Girly & Twitter

This morning, I was frustrated because the programme on Rugby and head injuries I'd downloaded onto iPlayer iPad app to watch on the way to work didn't have subtitles. I was frustrated because this hardly ever happens anymore. Especially not on iPlayer.

This year, I've been frustrated that the subtitles didn't work when I visited Odeon. It was annoying. I ate plastic cheese – that was horrendous.

But what I have to remember is that things have changed.

They really have.

When I look back at my early blogs – I can't believe I've been writing Deafinitely Girly's ramblings for more than eight years now – so many of my posts were full-on rants about how many things were inaccessible to me in London.

If I went to see a subtitled movie it was a massive event. It normally didn't work. This year, I have successfully watched four subtitled films at the cinema. Things have changed.

Other blogs I wrote were about my difficulty in contacting customer services for companies. Anything from British Gas and O2 to car insurance and doctor's surgeries.

But things have changed. And the thing that's changed it the most for me personally is Twitter.

Now, I don't even consider calling a company if I have a question, a problem or something I want help with. No longer do I struggle with the automated options, the beeps, the strong accents and the fact that I am a deaf person trying to make a phone call.

Nope. In the last two years alone, I have sorted out my phone via the @O2 Twitter peeps, sorted out a meter problem via @BritishGasHelp and got @TheAA_UK to email me about something when I couldn't find how to contact them by email on their website.

Yesterday, I had a text from DPD to let me know they were going to deliver a parcel to my flat. The postcode was wrong. I was at work. Online, I could alter the delivery so that I could pick it up at the DPD depot, but I still had a lot of questions, such as 'Would they hand it over if I didn't have documentation with that postcode on?' and 'Had I changed the day correctly online?'

Forgetting about the power of Twitter for a moment, I lifted the phone (I know!! Why do I even bother?) and got trapped in an automated recorded message with loads of options and no way of hearing them. And then I remembered Twitter. And Tweeted @DPD_UK. They got straight back to me. They followed me and continued the conversation over direct message. And by the end of the day it was sorted. Just like that. No tears of frustration. No roping poor, unsuspecting – but never complaining – friends and colleagues to sort it out for me.

'This must be what it's like for hearing people when they call up customer services,' I thought. But do you know what, I think I'm luckier. I don't have to go through a million options on the phone before getting to a real person. Real people are on Twitter for these companies and more than happy to help me... and most likely anyone else who Tweets them.

Twitter has totally changed how I interact with companies for the better. So many of the struggles I used to blog about are disappearing little by little, year by year.

Amazing huh?

There is however just one final thing I want to fix. And that is having a GP surgery where I can make appointments online. So I don't have to get someone else to make an appointment for that embarrassing problem (NOT THAT I HAVE ONE BY THE WAY) and so that I can finally take control of most aspects of my life.

So yesterday, I trawled through all the GP surgeries in my area until I found one that I could make online appointments with. And I'm going to join it. I am ridiculously excited about this.

Sure, there's still things that could be improved, and I'm sure I'll rant about them at some point, but today, I'm quite happy to say that from Deafinitely Girly's point of view, things are changing. It's not so hard anymore.

Have a lovely day peeps

DG
x






Friday, 25 September 2015

Deaf Girly works out

So I've blogged about it before, but I am a bit of a fan of the subtitled workouts you can download from iTunes. I have a couple now – a Pilates one where the woman says 'Good job' so many times, I actually want to throw her and my laptop out the window, a dance one that I am completely and utterly useless at, and a HIT one, which I think is brilliant.

 The thing I love most about a HIT (high intensity) workout is that you have to work hard, but the end is in sight at all times. So recently, before settling down to work from home, I've been doing one of the four workouts that are included in the download.

 But there is just one thing that frustrates me, and it's not my hearing – for once – it's my eyesight. As my Pa once said, when everyone else was queuing up for the good hearing and vision qualities, I was making a beeline for the 'good taste in handbags' one and missed the senses boat. So not only am I deaf, but I am also incredibly short sighted – as in 'glasses slipping down the nose from the weight of the lenses' short sighted.

 Without my glasses or hearing aids, I am literally helpless – as I once discovered while camping in the middle of a French forest when I went to the toilet (in the great outdoors) but forgot to put my glasses on, turned my head torch off for privacy and ended up unable to work out where the hell the campsite was anymore. I had to stand there and shout until someone came to my rescue and guided me back.

 I KNOW!

 Anyway, so because I do the HIT workouts before my morning shower, it means that I don't yet have my contact lenses in and this means doing a workout in my glasses, which when you're doing press ups and burpees and trying to read the subtitles from all manner of angles, is not very productive. I kept missing what the instructor was saying, my glasses kept falling off and it really wasn't working. 

But then I remembered I recently invested in some prescription swimming goggles – quite a life changing addition to my swimming technique as I no longer do granny breaststroke with my glasses on – so I quickly got them out of my gym bag and popped them on. And do you know what? They kind of worked.

OK, so I was sweating so much my eyeballs felt like I'd popped them in a sauna, and my hair got a little matted, but I could read the subtitles mid press up, burpee and whatever else she was yelling at me to do.

 But a quick glance at my reflection confirmed that I looked like a complete nutcase, working out in prescription swimming goggles... so if there's some magical solution I haven't heard of, please do let me know.

 Have a fab weekend peeps

 DG x

Friday, 18 September 2015

Deaf Girly's volume control

One of the things I most hate about my deafness is the times that I lose my volume control. When I'm yelling and don't realise it.

This usually happens on public transport – perhaps because my good lower frequency hearing means to me it's very noisy so I shout over it, or perhaps because my deafness is hell bent on humiliating me in front of a sea of strangers who, being Londoners, don't do talking on public transport except in extreme circumstances.

As a result of this, I tend to whisper on public transport and when I slip up, hope that whoever I am with – usual FJM – lets me know that I am YELLING AND EVERYONE CAN HEAR ME.

So anyway, last night I went to the gym and as always before I left home I took out my hearing aids. I like to watch iPlayer on my phone with subtitles and headphones to support them. It's an ace way to spend an hour on the bike or cross trainer.

FJM joined me and on the way home in the car I was telling him about something and he started to laugh...

Wondering what was funny, I noticed his hand was on the volume control for the car radio – he'd been trying to turn my volume down...

*blushes bright red*

Apparently I was yelling so loudly (I do this when I am not wearing my hearing aids as I don't 'hear' my voice in my head as clearly), and he'd had quite and early start and busy day at work, that he went into autopilot and reached for the radio controls in the car.

But it got me thinking, a volume control for me would be amazing. To alter my voice to makes sure it matches the background noise that hearing people hear. So that I don't shout on public transport, whisper in crowd situations and yell when I'm not wearing my hearing aids.

I guess with my hearing, I am lucky enough to have that volume control. I mean hearing people can only reach for ear plugs to make things quieter. Whereas I have loads of choices. If I want 2D sound with no high or middle frequencies to speak of, I can take out my hearing aids. If I want 3D sound I can wear my hearing aids with Sound Recover on. If I want less sound, I can turn them down. Less 3D, I can turn Sound Recover off, more amplification – there's the T-loop setting and my portable loop.

I don't think I'd ever really appreciated all the options open to me hearing wise. OK, so it's not perfect hearing and I can't ever switch my hearing to 'Hear a podcast' setting, but it's really nice to have options.

Luckily last night, while FJM didn't have the option to turn my volume down using a control, he could just tell me to stop yelling, after we'd both stopped laughing our heads off that is. And that makes today a very Thankful Friday.

Happy Friday peeps.

DG
x

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Thursday, 3 September 2015

Deafinitely Girly and Prom number 63

Yesterday, I told someone at work that I was going to a Prom and the first thing he thought was that this was a high school prom involving big dresses, limousines and layers and layers of fake tan. And, while I was flattered he thought I was the Dougie Howser of the workplace and merely masquerading as a 34-year-old woman who was actually still at school, I was relieved that I was actually off to a musical Prom.

I'd chosen this Prom because I thought that FJM might like it. It had a guaranteed easy-listening hit of a Mozart Piano Concerto (No 27 in B flat major) smack bang in the middle of Messiaen's Hymne and Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 in E major. And he did like it.

I did, too. Thanks mostly to the seats I chose.

If there's one thing I've learnt from going to the Albert Hall it's that I sometimes 'lose' the sound. But with seats in the choir – facing the rest of the audience and, most crucially, overlooking the orchestra, I was able to read the conductor, which helped me work out who was playing when and of course what tempo, and most importantly during the piano piece, 'hand read' the pianist – a very wonderful and enthusiastic Igor Levit, who did an encore, before the interval. Brilliant eh?

After my previous experience with Messiaen I was pretty sure that Hymne would be 12 minutes of largely unintelligible sound, and it kind of was. The high strings were totally out of my frequency. But this meant I was able to play around with my hearing aids and see which settings helped, and which didn't.

My Phonax Naxos hearing aids have Sound Recover, which moves the frequencies I cannot hear into a frequency I can. In the Sound Recover setting, I could hear quite a bit more, but it sounded even more discordant that I think perhaps Messiaen himself intended. Without Sound Recover, I lost the entire string section save for the cellos and bass. And then I decided to take my hearing aids out. After all, until three years ago, I attended all classical music concerts without my hearing aids.

I will never do this again. Without my hearing aids, it was almost entirely silent. The difference was so marked, I frantically searched the orchestra and watched the conductor in the vain hope there was just a really long rest in the music. But they were all moving.

'Do not cry,' I told my frustrated (and a little bit devastated) self. And so I, totally didn't, hold it together until the Mozart.

And if the Messiaen had me crying tears of frustration, the Mozart had me weeping tears of joy – yep, I was the crying blonde girl in the choir yesterday if you were there. As the strings started and the piano began, although I knew there were lots of notes quite simply not reaching my ears, there was enough that I could imagine the complete score. I could recognise the comforting phrasing and lilting melodies I grew up listening to before I got really deaf.

And I could follow Igor Levit's hands on the piano and see what he was playing.

I was happy again.

And then came the Bruckner with its low bass notes and emotional second movement. And I absolutely didn't weep my way through this either. Nope. That was definitely not me snivelling between FJM and the rather bemused old chat next to me.

Standing up to cheer my head off – probably a bit louder and 'Pretty Woman'-like that FJM would have preferred – I realised that I just have to focus on the positives with music. That I can still hear enough to make it enjoyable. That it is still enjoyable. Provided I choose my pieces well. And that means that Messiaen is out...

And Mozart and Bruckner are most definitely in.

*beams

Happy Thursday peeps

DGx


Monday, 17 August 2015

Deaf Girly and the tennis

The strangest thing has happened to me recently.

I have become a tennis fan.

If you'd asked me even two years ago whether I liked tennis, I would have muttered something about Wimbledon and changed the subject.

But now, I'm a proper fan. I have an app on my phone – well several in fact – that give me draws, results, news and basically minute-by-minute update on matches and tournaments... day and night. I shout at the TV too, when I am worried that the amazingly wonderfully fabulous Andy Murray won't win.

And I love it.

The reason why? FJM has taught me about it. He's explained the rules, the way the points system works – ANDY MURRAY IS NUMBER 2 IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW YOU KNOW? – and who's who in the amazing ATP and WTA tour and beyond.

He's taken me to see live tennis at Rotterdam, Queens and Eastbourne and last night we got the double treat of watching Belinda Bencic and Andy Murray win their respective tournaments in Canada (on TV sadly). It was brilliant.

Growing up I had an average interest in sport. Top of the list was rounders – possibly because it was the first sport I learnt and I was the least deaf then – and then hockey, netball, tennis and cross country running were all grouped together in the 'things I regularly tried to get out of' category.

Looking back, apart from the cross country running, which is just evil, I think part of the problem with the other sports was that I had no idea what was going on. I had no idea what the rules were – and for some reason it never occurred to me to find out – and I couldn't hear the teacher yelling instructions or the whistle. 

Randomly though, this didn't stop my PE teachers from putting me in the teams. I was goal keeper in hockey and a wing for the year above. I had absolutely no idea what a short corner was (to this day I still don't) and yet I still had to take them, which usually involved the referee yelling something at me until I thwacked the ball in the vague direction of someone on my team and hoped for the best.

With tennis, I really didn't understand the rules and it didn't help that the teacher had the strongest Welsh accent in the world and a beard. It would have been easier trying to lipread a chipmunk on a trampoline. He'd shout and yell at me and I had no clue what was going on. I used to be pushed forward and back in doubles, hit the ball in all directions and gradually – in about two weeks flat – decided that I hated tennis.

Why didn't I say, 'Um, Sir, what the hell is going on?' Well I guess at 8 years old, and not yet aware of the fact that I was going deaf, I just assumed that everyone else had no clue what was going on. Something I did a lot back then. I thought that French listening was meant to be difficult to hear and that Dictation – where the teacher read out a story that you had to write down, was intermittent words so you had to make up the rest.

I did not understand school at all. It felt like one big challenge that I couldn't work out.

Looking back, I wish I had known about my deafness back when I first started to learn tennis. I wish I had been the proactive, TELL ME WHAT I'VE MISSED, person that I am now, as I might have actually learnt it earlier, been able to play it and understand it, and had a lifetime of being a fan under my belt. As it was, I was so completely hopeless that I got moved down to join the juniors with the giant red plastic racquets and yellow foam balls, which destroyed any interest I had in the sport for the next 25 years.

All is not lost however, because I get it now. I understand and love it.

So perhaps now I should see if I can put my knowledge into practice and try actually playing tennis again. Twenty five years later, you never know, I could be alright.

Happy Monday peeps

DG




Friday, 14 August 2015

Deaf Girly and the silent Prom


Yesterday I went to the see a Prom with The Rents at the Royal Albert Hall. I love going to the Proms – there's something about the amazing location, comfy seats and usually excellent selection of music that means that you float out afterwards inspired and happy.

Ondes Martenot (Image from Wikipedia)

Last night Pa was very excited as it was a performance of Olivier Messiaen's Turangal├«la Symphony, which features an instrument called the Ondes Martenot – an electronic piano invented in 1928. Even more exciting was that the person playing it actually knew Messiaen when he was alive.

And so, after the first half, which was John Foulds' Three Mantras – wonderful wonderful music – we settled back and waited for the performance to begin.

I was so excited to hear what this funny-looking piano might sound like – Pa described it as other worldly – but as the music started and the performer began to play, I realised that I couldn't hear it at all. Maybe it was because we were sat behind the orchestra and the sound was projected forward only, maybe it was because the brass had very active roles in the piece and I can hear brass better than any other instrument, or maybe it was because it was high-pitched. Whatever it was, I still don't have any idea what the Ondes Martenot sounds like.

I sat there for a while trying to make sense of the sounds I could make out but they lacked structure and being quite modern sounding, I was unable to guess the bits I couldn't hear. This is something with the big classical composers like Mozart and Beethoven I can do – I can imagine the violin parts when I hear the cello and double basses play. And imagine the flutes and oboes alongside the clarinets and bassoons. I'm pretty sure it's not accurate but my head just fills in the blanks for me to help make the music more 3D.

Anyway, as unintelligible noise assaulted my ears, I started to feel my eyes close, which when you're sat behind the orchestra in full view of the rest of the Albert Hall – and known for sleep shouting – is not ideal.

'Must. Stay. Awake.' I ordered myself as I dozed off again. 'Must. Stay. Awake.' and then I remembered I had my Kindle in my bag with Lucy Robinson's new book The Day We Disappeared waiting to be read (which is brilliant by the way). And that's what I did. For the 60 minutes left of the performance, I tucked my Kindle inside my programme, so as not to appear to rude and read. And do you know what? It made the music I could hear more bearable. When it was the secondary thing I was concentrating on, the loud brass was interesting and rhythmic and the bassoons were amazing.

Applauding loudly at the end, I realised that for the first time, maybe ever, I wasn't feeling sad about the fact I'd just sat through a largely inaudible classical performance. Something that in the past would have reduced me to tears of frustration. But last night, I was OK with it. And it made me wonder if perhaps I've laid my sadness about having to give up my violin and flute and any musical ambitions I might have ever had to rest. Finally! Or maybe the grieving period is over. 

I've realised I don't miss my flute anymore. And up until three years ago, I couldn't even open the box without feeling an acute pain in my heart. About the instrument I had begged to be allowed to play and the instrument I did my final recital on where most of what I could hear was in my head not in reality. 

But I do miss music. So I've decided to take advantage of the fact the Proms have tickets left still and go to a whole load. See what I can and can't here, armed with my Kindle just in case.

In the meantime though, if anyone has access to, or knows where I can find, an Ondes Martenot can you let me know as I'd love to see if, in a quiet room, with my ear pressed to the speaker, I could hear the instrument that seemed to capture the whole Albert Hall with complete glee last night.

Happy Friday peeps

DG
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Friday, 24 July 2015

Deaf Girly's head of noise

This time last week I was in the Alps. I was about to start a long morning walk. A walk that took me and FJM past a lake, up a hill, along the side of a river and to a refuge where we sat under a sun umbrella and watched the rain pelt down around us while munching on the most delicious cheese baguettes.

One of the things I love about being in the mountains is how quiet it is, especially in summer when you haven't got the hum of the lifts and the swishing of the skis. It's a kind of quiet that means I can leave my hearing aids at home, because the only thing I need to hear is FJM.

But what amazed me last week was that I heard other stuff, too. Except I didn't. In the calmness and the stillness of the mountains, I was reminded of how good my aural memory is. Or perhaps it's my aural imagination...

You see, we saw marmots. Cute, furry, morbidly obese marmots. FJM heard marmots. I did not, but when he described the noise they made, my brain somehow memorised it and forever more, when I saw that little fat furry backside retreating from the human invaders on its path, I heard the noise FJM had told me it made. You see the fun he could have with this right?!

Back near our ski flat, there was a kitten. I haven't heard a cat meow since I was about  8 years old, and even then, it was the quietest thing I'd ever heard. But when this kitten meowed, I heard it in my head. I lipread the damn cat.

And it was the same for the baby crying in the cafe near us. I lip-read that and my head filled in the blanks giving me sound that my ears can't hear.

The weirdest one though was when I was watching my iPlayer downloads on my iPad on the train down through France. Not bothering with headphones, I had Celebrity Masterchef on mute. In my head, I could hear Greg Wallace and John Torrode. As I read the subtitles, their voices were in my head. And the celebrities that I knew, their voices were in my head, too.

So imagine my surprise when, at the flat on the mountainside, I turned up the volume and held my iPad up to my ear and discovered that Sam Nixon – who was apparently on X Factor – had a northern accent. Something my lipreading had totally missed. In my head, he had a cockney accent not a northern accent. And I had watched six episodes on mute with a totally different voice for him in my head. It was completely bizarre.

But also rather brilliant. Having this fabulous fill-in-the-blanks hearing brain that seems to bypass my ears, helps give me another dimension to hearing that my hearing aids cannot do.

I know deep down that there are some sounds that my ears will never hear. Cats meowing, green men beeping, the noise the tube doors apparently make before they close, phones ringing. And in the last 25 years I have totally come to accept that.

My brain it seems has not. It will keep on giving me cats meowing as long as I see a cat's mouth move. I will keep on hearing a green man beep regardless of whether it does. And you should hear what it thinks the tube door closing warning sounds like...

It's awesome, and probably a lot more tuneful than what the hearing peeps get to listen to.

Happy Friday peeps

DG
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Friday, 26 June 2015

Deaf Girly and Royal Opera House Access Card

Yesterday, FJM and I went for a walk along the river. The sun was shining, the birds could well have been singing. It was wonderful.

We sat outside a pub with a view of people rowing past at low tide. We felt smug that we had a table in the sun. It was all marvellous.

Then my phone rang twice. It was a number I didn't recognise so I didn't answer it. After all, I am never called by numbers I recognise as people know not to call me. FJM went to the bar.

A voicemail popped up and so I thought I'd have a go at trying to decipher it. Talking very slowly and loudly at the other end (he clearly knew he was having to call a deaf person) was a man whose name I didn't catch but what I did catch was 'The Royal Opera House, lost wallet and email'.

Eh? I thought, checking my bag and wondering how somewhere 8 miles away was calling me about a 'lost wallet' that I could clearly see was in my bag. And then I looked for my travel card wallet. The wallet with my Freedom Pass, my Disabled Rail Card, my climbing wall card and my Royal Opera House Access card and that was gone.

ARGH!

Unable to decipher anymore from the voicemail – and with FJM still at the bar – I checked my email and there from a lovely person at the Box Office of the Royal Opera House was an email. My card wallet had been found by the river by a man who had called them as their number was on the Access Card. Obviously they couldn't give him my details but they took his and included in the email was his mobile number and name.

Amazing huh?

And so when FJM returned from the bar, he rang the lovely guy who found my wallet.

Turned out some school girls picked it up and handed it to him and he went through every single card and phoned every single number on each one until someone would help him. The Climbing Wall didn't have my contact details, the Freedom Pass people told him to post it to them as did the Disabled Railcard people, but he figured I'd want it back sooner than that and then the Royal Opera House offered to help.

He texted his address to me and yesterday evening – armed with a bottle of thank you wine – we drove over to pick up the wallet. As I shook his hand and handed him the wine, I really just wanted to hug him. For giving me back my Freedom Pass and all my access cards. Things that make my every day life so much easier.

We chatted a bit and he said that the thing that made him really determined was the card he found tucked away in the middle. It was something Ma gave me as a kid – a laminated card with an an angel shaped coin in the middle of it – the sentiment being that someone is always watching over me. And he rightly pointed out that yesterday they clearly were.

And as today is Thankful Friday, it's quite easy to work out what I'm thankful for. For the guy who rang everyone to get my card wallet back, for the determined Royal Opera House box office guy who joined in the fun, for my Ma for giving me that guardian angel, and for FJM who is wonderful pair of ears, always.

Happy Friday peeps!

DG
x



Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Deaf Girly's open letter to Odeon


Picture the scene:

I’m on my first date with FJM to the cinema – we’ve known each other almost two years, so it’s quite an amazing feat. It’s Jurassic World, something he’s really looking forward to seeing. As I haven’t been to the cinema for five years, I excitedly order popcorn and nachos and throw myself into eating the quite-frankly disgusting cold plastic cheese the latter are served with, with gusto.

You see yesterday was the first evening showing of Jurassic World that FJM and I could go to. I’d been stalking the Your Local Cinema website to find a captioned showing ever since I found out that FJM went to see the original Jurassic Park three times in one week when it came out in 1993.

Such was my excitement that we got there 40 minutes early. Such was my excitement that I checked with staff that this captioned movie was definitely happening several times. Such was my excitement that I ate most of that plastic cheese – DEAR GOD WHAT IS IN THAT STUFF? – while FJM did his best with his stale popcorn. 

So imagine my horror when the opening scene began to roll and not a single caption popped up. ‘Okay, okay,’ I reasoned, maybe they are just normal subtitles rather than ones of the hard of hearing. Maybe once people start talking some captions will pop up. People started talking.

Nothing.

I was not alone in my speedy sprint down the stairs from my £13-something Premier Seat where we found a guy with a walkie talkie looking a bit panic stricken. 

The film continued rolling. FJM ate his stale popcorn.

To be fair, I couldn’t fault the Odeon staff at this point. They were trying. I could see the exertion on their faces of running up the stairs to the projection room to see what was going on. And when I asked that they start the movie again once sorting the subtitles, they agreed.

And so they did. And we all returned to our seats. I put the plastic cheese to one side and sat nervously. Odeon wasn’t about to ruin my first ever cinema date with FJM was it?

The opening scene rolled again. The egg started to hatch, and the crow’s foot hitting the snow didn’t quite have the same impact second time around. Anne Heche said something unintelligible to me and… there were no captions.

At this point, and I really don’t blame them, most of the people who had come for the captions left.

The movie was paused. I remained hopeful. I held FJM’s hand and tried to forget the tub of plastic cheese I’d just eaten.

Third time around, I held my breath as the first little claw came out of the delicate egg shell. I held my breath as the crow landed on the snow. I held my breath as Anne Heche yelled something unintelligible and then I realised that I too would have to walk out of this cinema and take the non-subtitle-needing FJM with me.

And while your staff politely issued me my refund. For the tickets. For the plastic cheese. For the slightly stale popcorn, I found myself tearfully apologising to FJM that he had to miss a film he really wanted to watch because of me. 

I found myself asking staff why they couldn’t get the captions to work. Why when it was someone’s job, was it not being done? Why, when it was advertised and I double checked on arriving, did I not get what I had paid for? No one could give me any answers.

So then I asked staff if this happened often, they said no. Although they also looked like they were struggling to recall what a caption actually was. One of the guys who walked out at the beginning, said it happened quite a lot. His face had an expression of weary acceptance. 

But I refuse to accept your incompetence, Odeon.

You ruined our date. And worse still, I had cold plastic cheese for dinner, when had I known you were going to screw up so spectacularly I would have passed on that and marched straight over to the Byron Burger opposite instead.

Do you know, last year there were reports that the UK box office suffered its biggest fall for 20 years? The cinema we went to, Kensington Odeon – not because its local but because it was the only one showing the movie with captions – was facing redevelopment and attracted a wealth of high-profile protestors about it.

But Odeon, I don’t have high hopes for your future, because the thing is, I don’t truly believe that you value all your customers. If you did, then yesterday wouldn’t have happened. Yesterday, someone would have checked the captions on the movie were working before the excited people turned up, ate plastic cheese and left again feeling angry and humiliated and in my case downright pissed off.

I understand that there will probably never be more than one subtitled movie a week and that this will usually be an afternoon showing because evening captions are likely to put valued hearing customers off – as Sara Cox once spectacularly demonstrated on Twitter. I understand that it probably all boils down to the subject of money.

But yesterday I spent £45 that you had to refund. You also gave me two free tickets to try and tempt me back next week after staff promised there would be a subtitled showing of Jurassic World again.

I will not be going.

I’d start a campaign if I’d thought it’d make a difference. Found a charity to help fund the showing of captioned movies. Or support an existing one. So that companies like yours don’t have to take the hit for making lives like ours accessible.

But I can’t really make that difference Odeon. You can. By not mucking up the one captioned movie you’re showing that month. By not serving plastic cheese and stale popcorn. And by remembering that you ruined my first date to the cinema with FJM.

Happy Tuesday Odeon.

Happy sodding Tuesday.

DG

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Deaf Girly and Spotify subtitles

I'm one of those people who takes advantage of Spotify's free service. The one where you watch an advert for 30 seconds to get 30 minutes of ad-free music. It's not really a hardship. And it has running music.

So far however, my usage of Spotify has been limited to the gym on my phone. Music to run to. Music to stretch to. Zen music for lying on the mat in the stretching area with my eyes closed while pretending I'm actually doing something.

But today, bored of my iTunes selection – I've had the Tangled soundtrack on repeat since I sat down this morning – I decided to try Spotify on my laptop. 

And, since I don't listen to the radio and have no idea what the latest music is, I clicked on the top UK songs that are in the Charts right now. I've never heard many of them before. It's a new experience.

But imagine my surprise when browsing on the Spotify app on my Mac when I saw a little option in the bottom left corner that said 'LYRICS'.

My first thought was – it's a trick. It won't work. It'll get my hopes up and I'll click on it and get a message about lyrics not being available at this time. I mean, you learn to live with these constant disappointments. Like the fact that I have yet to find a subtitled evening showing of the new Jurassic Park movie to take FJM to. *sniff* Or the fact that there is still UNSUBTITLED content on the iPlayer – I really did want to watch that documentary on The Trellick Building and I CAN'T.

Anyway, with my expectations lower than a primary school sports day high jump, I clicked the lyrics button and OH MY GOODNESS...

It WORKS.

Gosh I am shouty today.

Not only are the lyrics there but they give you the lyrics as they are happening, which means I am less likely to be singing the lyrics out of time. This happens a lot. I'm singing away and realise I'm in a completely different place to the actual singer. Bet you're glad you don't live near me eh? *closes windows*

Ooh as I write this Bruno Mars has just come on... *taps foot*

'I'm too hot (hot damn)'

Who knew these were such inspired lyrics *raises eyebrows*

'Uptown funk you up' eh?



But seriously, this is amazing. Amazing. There are lyrics. And as far as I can see, this is better than SoundHound on my iPhone, which regularly tells me it's sorry it cannot find the lyrics to something.

This week, with my mended hearing aids, FaceTime and now lyrics on Spotify I've been feeling amazing impressed with technology and how it makes my life bloody amazing. That and the fact I've downloaded a new HIT exercise class from iTunes that has subtitles and has rendered me unable to move today.

It's all marvellous.

Completely marvellous.

Happy Tuesday peeps

xx


Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Deaf Girly's hearing aid-free week

I have just put my hearing aids in after a week of not wearing them.

Everything is so loud. I can hear the washing machine on its spin cycle, I'm aware that I haven't turned the extractor fan off above the hob, the gates next door have just clanged open and someone is hammering in the garden outside.

It wasn't a deliberate decision to leave my hearing aids out. More that I ran out of batteries and went away for a week. And I think also because during that week, I was with people who've known me most of my life. People like SuperCathyFragileMystic, Jenny M and The Rents. And FJM, who while I haven't known my whole life, is pretty darn good at making sure I know what's going on.

Out of the hustle and bustle of London, I felt a lot less deaf. I went everywhere by car so didn't need to struggle with finding out about public transport announcements. I didn't really go in many shops so there was no having to listen for the 'Would you like a bag' question or the various other things I have trouble hearing. And I ate out less so didn't need to hear in noisy restaurants. I noticed my deafness less.

When I got my hearing aids nearly three years ago, one of the things I was most worried about was that I wouldn't be able to switch between my old world and my new world without noticing the difference in a bad way. With previous hearing aids, I was almost left panicky on taking them out at night. Claustrophobic in the silence of my own head. The relief I feel at this not being the case with these hearing aids is off the scale.

They have changed my life beyond believe in ways I never thought possible. They continue to add a third dimension of sound that I didn't know existed. When using the t-loop hook headphones with my phone and FaceTime, they provide an added clarity of sound to assist lipreading and best of all, they continue to remain optional if I want to go back to my old sound.

My week off from my hearing aids was great. But now I'm back in London, the hearing aids are back in. Busy restaurants, busy streets, busy offices and busy public transport make my hearing aids a necessity and that's OK.

But if I ever do move to the country, I think I might go hearing aid free a lot more.

Happy Tuesday peeps

DG
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Monday, 1 June 2015

Deaf Girly does a subtitled exercise class

Regular readers will know that I have a love/hate relationship with exercise classes at gyms and on DVD. I love the idea of them but find it quite hard to follow what's going on, especially in the Downward Dog position or while doing a press up on a power plate.

In classes I usually take reinforcements in the form of friends. From the Singing Swede in spinning who used to tell me which way to turn the resistance thingumajig to HannahBanana who got me through some baffling power plate classes, this method usually works, even if it means I am a few steps behind everyone else.

Then there was that time I went to a spinning class alone – DG and the spinning class – or the time I almost fell through the studio floor at a step aerobics class – DG and the step class.

Recently however,  I've been working from home a lot more and rather than heading off to the gym in my lunch hour,  I've been cracking out my vintage workout DVDs. And I'm talking vintage. Think Callan Pinckney's Callanetics or Rosemary Conley's cheesy pop-filled delights, the latter is quite good fun to dance around to while chucking on a neon pink Primark sweatband for good measure, while the former causes immense pain to your inner thighs and may see you flickflacking down an entire staircase after you lose the ability to bend your legs the next day (yes, this actually happened to me once).

However, after roping in SuperCathyFragileMystic into joining me for Rosemary's promise of a 7-day slim down, I realised just how much I was missing. SCFM proceeded to recount everything that Rosemary was saying and do you know what I didn't have a clue just how much that lady can talk. From the breathing and the posture to the success stories and the countdown on sit ups, I was missing it all.

And that got me thinking – with iTunes getting better at adding more movies with captions, I wondered whether they now offered workout videos, too.

And guess what? They do.

So DG went shopping, from the comfort of her sofa, while wearing her neon pink Primark workout gear – trust me, sports kit is one thing from Primark that I without fail always love – and bought the following:



As they downloaded I was nervous that I'd just spent more than £10 on something that actually wouldn't be subtitled. That there would be a glitch in iTunes and I'd be left trying to lipread instructors in my usual fashion while bobbing around attempting to be coordinated. But guess what? They really are subtitled. Properly subtitled!!

I tried the Step Up one first, pulling my hair into a high ponytail and adjusting my sweatband for good measure. But within five minutes, I discovered something – having subtitles doesn't make me any more coordinated. I am still just as rubbish as I was before. But at least now I know that I am being rubbish like normal hearing people.

It was a sad realisation that it's not my deafness that makes me a terrible dancer. I've got no excuses now. And so, after half an hour of feeling like a total lemon, I confined the Step Up workout to the dusty shelves of my iTunes library.

But Mari Winsor was a whole other story. I LOVE this workout. The subtitles are excellent because they give you all the information about posture and breathing that is important about pilates. 

They give you Mari's chitchat about stuff and let you know that the pain-inducing position you're in only has a bit longer left before you can breath a sigh of relief and have a cup of tea.

I would highly recommend it.

Do I have abs of steel yet? Well no, because this weekend I sat on the sofa, watched tennis and ate Tunnocks Caramel wafers but if Mari and her subtitled pilates classes have any say in the matter, I may well have soon.

And on that note, I think it's time for another Tunnocks Caramel Wafer. Mari, I will see you later.

DG
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