Tuesday 30 August 2011

A great iPhone app for Deaf Girly

Apologies for being a little bit quiet lately – I was taking some holiday, a break from the big smoke, a few days in the country. And it was marvellous.

I love staying with the Rents. It means leisurely breakfasts, interesting days out and in this instance, tickets to Jack Gibbons’ Farewell Piano Party in Oxford. This piano extravaganza was absolutely brilliant and Jack’s hands moved with such speed that sometimes it felt as though someone had hit the fast forward button.

As usual I got a seat on the keyboard side so that when the music was out of my frequency I could still see what was going on and this worked very well. One of his own compositions that he played was called Music Box and this was so high I could only hear the left hand. But by watching his right hand, I at least had some idea about what the melody was doing.

Even more impressively, the second half of the concert was by request of the audience. So in the interval, people could put what they wanted to hear on a slip of paper into a top hat.

Given Jack's Gershwin background, there was a lot of this but there was also an incredible piece by Alkan, a French composer who Liszt was said to have claimed was the only person who could make him nervous when present at his concerts.

And if I had to play a piece by Alkan, I would be nervous, too. It was insanely fast, but incredibly melodic. I loved it.

Anyway, another thing I did when I was home was take advantage of the Wi-Fi and go free app shopping for my iPhone.

Recently there are several apps on my phone that have stopped being so good, so I wanted to search for decent alternatives.

One in particular is Pocket Lyrics – an app that you play your iPod through and it displays the lyrics, which is fabulous, if like me, you can't hear them.

But recently, this app has not been finding the lyrics to songs I've downloaded. It's most annoying.

However, to replace it, I have found TuneWiki a fabulous and free app that not only displays the lyrics of the song playing, but also highlights the line being sung – amazing as my deafness has taken away the clarity of speech – and it even translates the words into any other language. I'm not kidding you, there is literally a list of every language in existence. So last night I listened to a Spanish song I liked, but read along in English!

I cannot recommend this app enough, and best of all, it's free!

And that’s it for my first post of this four-day week. After yesterday’s spring (end-of-summer) clearout in my little flat, I feel as though the close of summer and the start of September is a time of resolutions.

So here are mine – I’m going back to blogging every day, I’m going to make do and mend, I’m not going to dwell on the past and every day I’m going to make sure any negative thoughts I have are replaced with positive ones.

What are your new season resolutions?

Monday 22 August 2011

Deafness and exercise

Today I feel exhausted. This is mainly because I spent rather a lot of last night sleepwalking... From what I can remember anyway.

The first time, I woke up in the hallway, turning on the light, heart hammering.

I went back to bed.

The second time, I woke up in the hallway, convinced someone had set my neighbour's bikes on fire and she was yelling.

The reality when I came around was a quiet flat and no fire.

And the last occasion saw me waking by the bedroom window, where in my dreams the garden was totally different and at that moment was overrun by hooded rebels.

And that is what you get from following news coverage of Libya just before going to sleep.

Anyway, I had a quite marvelous weekend, if you don't count the bit where I went for a run straight after eating breakfast and it nearly killed me. I am not a natural runner. And on a full stomach, I have the physical aptitude of a drunk foal, on an ice rink.

Saturday saw a fun day with the Singing Swede and GBman while Sunday saw the most boring spinning class on earth followed by a fab lunch with the Singing Swede and even more fab birthday dinner for London Cousin 2.

But let's get back to the spinning class, where the instructor is actually deaf.

Now, this on the one hand is brilliant. She was incredibly visual with her instructions so I always knew what was going on, but she also thought interval training should be done in intervals of 15 minutes. A hill climb for 15 minutes to Another Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd on repeat? I would rather have stuck pins under my toenails.

But, knowing the class was only 45 minutes, I thought, ‘No, no, I can do this’ until she announced it was an hour-long class and we were about to do another 15 minute hill climb. I’m afraid I didn’t stick around to see what delightful music this was to – probably the Funeral March or something else as equally inspiring – and instead I went and stretched my hill-climb ravaged legs on the matting next to all the weight lifting, grunting people.

But it got me thinking… was her class bad because she couldn’t hear how diabolical the music was, or because she had diabolical taste in music?

Did she do long intervals to minimize her interaction with us, or did she just think boring us to death was the way to create a fitness utopia?

Either way, I have no intention of ever going back to find out. I’m going to stick to my giant, ginger-haired spinning instructor at my work gym who I have a secret crush on. He looks a bit like a gorilla on a toy bike but picks the best music and inspires me to pedal my little legs off. And he does all that, and I’ve never heard a word he’s said!

Happy Monday peeps



Wednesday 17 August 2011

Deafness and volleyball

Deafinitely Girly has been ill.


Sore throat, cold, shivering, no appetite ILL!

Indeed, a packet of jam tarts has stayed unopened on my kitchen side this last week because I simply couldn't face eating them. And it's the truth that if I resist a jam tart, something is up,

But, thanks to a diet of Lemsip and Strepsils – and little else I might add – I am on the mend, and able to reflect on the quite brilliant weekend I had in Pompey with Tigger, Uni Housemate, SouperLouper and the gang.

Now a yearly event, we attended Broadlands outdoor Prom. There, we flag waved, cheered, drank champagne – or lemonade in my case as I volunteered to drive – and had a thoroughly marvelous time.

Then, on Sunday we went down to the seafront where there was a VW Festival. It was quite a spectacle, with camper vans of every shape and size, Beetles in the most stunning condition and more vintage picnic hampers than you could ever possibly need.

It got me dreaming of owning my own pink camper van. Split screen, pastel leather interior and a sign down the sign declaring DG's Campervan Cupcake Cafe.

In fact it was such a good dream that I fell asleep beside the sea while planning it all and burnt to a crisp.

After this, we wandered homeward and stumbled across a beach volleyball area, with some rather buff looking guys having a game. Their coach allowed us to borrow a ball and we set about our first ever attempt at beach volleyball. This largely consisted of whacking the ball onto the court of the buff guys, apologising and then doing it again two seconds later.

Eventually the coach took pity on us and gave us an impromptu coaching session. He explained the rules, showed us how to serve and gave us tips on how to keep the ball in the air. But naturally, being deaf, I didn’t follow any of this – instead I had flashbacks to my years on the hockey team, where, unable to hear the whistle or coach’s instructions, I regularly ran when I shouldn’t, scored when the game had stopped and generally made a complete idiot of myself.

So on Sunday, I just nodded and smiled and pretended I had a clue what was going on. When I was handed the ball, I served. When the ball looked like it might be going to be out, I didn’t touch it, and when we swapped sides, I followed my team. And actually this worked out quite well.

You see, after a spot of playing, rotating and serving, I was handed the ball to serve with. I did this and it was in – not only was it in but the other team failed to hit it back.

And I won the game!

The blonde, deaf girl without a clue what was going on won the game! Top Man, Uni Housemate and SouperLouper celebrated this by bear hugging me and I celebrated with the realisation that you don’t always necessarily have to know what’s going on to succeed in life.

And from now on, I’ve decided that’s going to be my mantra. I will succeed even though I don’t have a merry clue what I am doing half the time.

I will succeed.

Friday 12 August 2011

Deafinitely Girly's Thankful Friday

Today is Thankful Friday and once again I am thankful for chocolate martinis.

I had one last night and it was absolutely delicious.

I am also thankful that, touch wood, London seems to be returning to normal – albeit with fuller prisons and exhausted court officials.

Its amazing how the UKs predicament has made an impact on people worldwide. Take yesterday, when after receiving the fifth email from a library in North Carolina reminding me that my library book was overdue, I emailed them and asked them to stop spamming me.

They replied, immediately and somewhat hurt I think, suggesting I changed my notification preferences if I didnt want emails about the book on feet I had allegedly reserved and the book on budgies that was now one week overdue.

So I replied, explaining that I was in the UK and had indeed never been to North Carolina, or had any interest in feet or budgies in the literary way, which prompted an apology email from them followed by best wishes for the appalling state of our country right now

How lovely was that?

It almost made me wish that my local library was this one in North Carolina, where you can read books on feet and budgies.

Anyway, I am also thankful that Ma is on the mend after she fell off my bike while cycling around the lake near the Rents house.

After two weeks, the holes in her knee and elbow are healing and her bruises are fading, which is amazing considering she looked like shed done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson after the crash.

Ive banned her from cycling again – especially around the lake – but I know she will still go. So Pa is under strict instructions to kit her out in full body armour and a life jacket if she does.

And finally, I am thankful for the amazing team spirit emerging in London in the days after the riot. People left with destroyed businesses, such as Aaron Biber the barber now have something due to ingenious collection pages for them – see Aarons here with its current total standing at nearly £28,000.

Its amazing. Its heartwarming and its hopefully proof that while there are some despicable people out there, there are also some bloomin fantastic ones.

So have a good weekend everyone and a very happy Thankful Friday to you.



Wednesday 10 August 2011

I can deafinitely hear the organ

A positive night for London although not for several other cities around the country. I still can't help waking up utterly disgusted with the people responsible for this mess – and that doesn't just include the rioters.

Anyway, last night, despite feeling ill, I met the rents for a Prom. Pa, who is oracle of all music, had treated us to this Prom as he knew I'd hear the last piece - Saint-Saens Symphony No. 3 in C Minor ‘Organ’.

But just to make sure, he got us seats right by the organ. And boy could

I hear it!

It was magnificent. Saint-Saens always comes through on the melody front but with the throaty growling of the organ as well, this was music to my ears... Quite literally.

It was one of those musical pieces where I forget I'm deaf.

The 2nd piece of the first half however Centauromachy – a Double Concerto for Clarinet and Flugelhorn – was a different matter. Written by Simon Holt, a still-living and actually-there-last-night composer, it was totally out of my frequency, an orgy of first violins, celesta and wind instruments.

That said, the whole night was brilliant. And better still, we had a very peaceful journey home. Not a looting hoody in sight. Although more police than I've ever seen in one place before.

And this morning, travelling to work past the boarded up shops in the bright sunshine, it's hard to believe what London has been through, or indeed what may still be to come if our taxi driver from last night is to be believed.

Let's hope he was wrong, eh? Let's hope he was wrong.

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