Context is All

In the noise and sweaty jostling of the crowded pub on Friday night, I found my mind wandering to my trail of recent misdeeds. I could console myself that the fruit scones in Sainsbury’s hadn’t been harmed. The ‘No’ to a request at work had been instantly forgiven. The out of date ticket which had resulted in me being stopped at the barriers as I got off the train on Thursday, was a simple mistake anyone could have made. Well, anyone who was distracted by manoeuvring a hearing aid and an iPod to chat to a pal, and never empties their pockets, that is.

Changing the settings on the office phone, on the other hand…the implications were profound. What if one of my colleagues got temporarily deafened by the ear-shattering bleeps as they dialled a fourteen digit International phone number during one of next week’s recruitment interviews by phone? What if the unexpected 2dB increase in sound output from the handset caused a colleague with good hearing to suddenly collapse and bleed from the ears while they were listening to a nervous candidate describe their artistic ambitions in their second language? What if…

My thoughts were suddenly interrupted by an arm slipping round my waist and a pair of lips approaching the left lug. I turned to find that the arm belonged not to the spouse, but to a well-dressed woman who had just made a bad choice of ear into which to talk in a crowded pub.

“Sorry,” I said “didn’t quite catch that…”

She repeated her words, but I still didn’t get it.

“Sorry,” I said, “I’m a bit…”

“HADES!” she said loudly.

“What?” I said in astonishment. Why was she saying ‘Hades’ to me? Was she some kind of messenger of the Apocalypse who had been sent to warn me that I was about to end up in Hell for tampering with the volume settings on the phone? Blimey, that’s a bit harsh!

“HADES!” she said again, as if reading my thoughts.

“I’m sorry,” I said for the third time, “I don’t understand…”

“Ladies” she said, “Where’s the Ladies toilet?”

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2 Responses to “Context is All”


  1. 1 Clara March 14, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Oh the list of things my husband says “Where did you get that from???!” in exasperation. Apparently if you have normal hearing, the following pairs are not the same. Who knew?

    “Empress in a box” and “Interesting thought”

    “It’s wind” and “I swear”

    “Erica” and “urban”

    “That’s her spin” and “as a spy”

    “Actually fly” and “Family guy”

    or any and all of the following in a pick and mix fashion:
    Arm, hour, flower, power, now, how, car…

    The most annoying is when I stand in the kitchen leaning hard into my daughter’s face, studying her lips and on maximum volume making the poor child do her third repetition and husband bellows from another room while playing an involved and noisy Playstation game “SHE WANTS A BANANA!!!” How does he DO that?

    • 2 moiradancer March 14, 2011 at 5:14 pm

      Hee hee! The wondrous creations of the cookie bite cortex are usually much more interesting than what’s actually being said, your ‘Empress in a box’ being a particularly fine example. Having said that, our long suffering partners are still capable of a bit of creative mis-hearing themselves. The spouse was once puzzled when a Spanish friend kept describing his girlfriend as ‘an arse’. It turned out she was actually ‘a nurse’, which was a big relief all round.


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