Archive for the 'Conversations' Category

Expletive deleted

subtitle swear word

Walking through the crowded shopping precinct on the way to work, I knew I was in trouble when I spotted a slightly deranged looking old man rushing towards me, waving his finger as if scolding an unknown entity.

“Excuse me! Excuse me!” he shouted.

I tried to pretend I hadn’t seen him, but as soon as he was close enough to start waving his finger in my face, I was forced to stop. My latest trial pair of multifocal lenses immediately zoomed in on a couple of large NHS hearing aids precariously attached to his head, and I was temporarily distracted by wondering what model he had.

“Excuse me,” he shouted, “where’s the fuckin’ television?”

That’s a bit strong for nine in the morning, even in Glasgow, I thought.

“Sorry, where’s the what? ” I enquired, hoping I had misheard, and wondering just how deranged he actually was.

“The fuckin’ television”, he repeated, “The fuckin’ television”. I tried to look blank as I worked out an escape plan, but the television man was persistent. He continued to repeat his question whilst I continued to look blank, but at least the accusatory finger waving had ceased.

All of a sudden, I picked up on an amplified slushy ‘SH’ sound at the end of fuckin’ television and the penny finally dropped in the cookiebite cortex.

“Ah…the television shop”, I said, relieved that he didn’t have an imaginary television which went everywhere with him. “Which one?”

“Which what?” said the man.

“Which television shop” I replied, “…you said you were looking for the television shop?” I left out the fuckin’ for the sake of propriety.

His response was indignant. Perhaps he thought there was something wrong with my ears.

“Ah tellt ye, Hen…Virgin…Ah’m lookin’ fur the Virgin television shop!”

In my defence, the lip shapes of a guttural Glaswegian pronunciation of Virgin (Vuurgin) and the expletive are rather similar…

 

In retrospect, the lip shapes of ‘telephone’ and ‘television’ are clearly rather similar too, in any accent!

 

 

Like mother, like daughter…

The other day, while I was listening to Mama’s light hearted chat about various aspects of her ongoing corporeal decay, she suddenly broke off and assumed an alarming air of gravity.

“Now tell me,” she said, fixing me with a steely gaze and causing me to brace myself for something potentially worrying. Fortunately, her question was quite harmless and I was able to unbrace myself and finish swallowing my mouthful of tea immediately. “How did you get your, your…er, your hearing aids?” she said. “Are they from the NHS?”

I thought she was taking an interest in my hearing, but it turned out that she thought she might need hearing aids herself and wanted to know how to go about getting them. I was delighted to have an opportunity to share my comprehensive knowledge of NHS audiology referral procedures, but wasn’t sure whether it would be needed. Knowing Mama’s lifelong propensity for poking cotton buds into her ear canals, the description of her current hearing loss sounded rather more like a bad case of earwax, so I advised her to get her ears checked by her GP. While I was talking, I noticed her leaning worryingly from side to side in her notoriously unstable motorised armchair, and I wondered what she was doing.

“Have you got two? Have you got them in just now?” she said, squinting unsuccessfully at each side of my distant head, before correcting herself. “Oh, silly me!” she tutted,  “Of course you’ve got them on, you’d need to be wearing them to get the cheap train ticket.”

I marvelled at the pensioner logic that stated I had hearing aids for the purpose of getting a discount on the train, rather than to hear things, and noted that here was yet another great thing about hearing loss I’d overlooked. I could even extend Mama’s logic to reassert my superiority when licking my wounds in bad hearing situations. The next time someone annoyed me by saying, “It’s really noisy in here, you’re lucky you can take your hearing aids out!”, I could say “Lucky I can take them out? Lucky? Pah! That’s absolutely nothing compared to the 1/3 off discount on the train for hearing aid users! Put that in your pipe and smoke it, if you think hearing loss is some kind of disadvantage!”

Mama was already in possession of a pensioner railcard, therefore didn’t need a visible pair of hearing aids to get a discount on the train.

“If it was me, I’d want the tiny wee ones that go right inside your ears”, she announced, doing an unconscious mime of how she imagined putting them in would go. She missed out the bit where you drop them on the floor several times, before treading on them by accident. Having witnessed her arthritic dexterity when narrowly avoiding slicing through the power supply cable of the electric carving knife she was using to attack a tomato at lunchtime, I decided I had to convince her that microscopic hearing aids might not be the best idea.

“You know,” I said, assuming an air of great authority, “behind the ear ones are much easier to handle if you’re ol…” I noticed a white eyebrow raise, and changed tack by adding, “personally, I don’t give a stuff about what they look like any more.”

“I can see that”, said Mama, making sure I wasn’t getting too big for my daughterly boots. She had another quick glance at my head before adding for good measure, “it’s probably a good thing you’re only able to see them from the front.”

It’s all relative

“What’s even worse than having to do a phone interview?” I asked my colleague the other day, as we passed in the corridor whilst doing the annual round of student recruitment interviews.

“Having to do a phone interview via Skype?” he proffered, quick as a flash and stealing my thunder with a much better answer than the one I had been about to give about not being able to do a phone interview because the candidate had put the wrong contact number on their application form.

“Jeez, never even considered having to interview by Skype”, I said with horror.

The thought of the candidate being able to watch me writhe like a worm that’s been chopped in two, as I strained to decipher broken English via an echoey satellite connection, was traumatic. Throw in the unedifying spectacle of fiddling with squealing hearing aids as well, and it made such an inhumane test of endurance for both parties, that I wondered if I could sell the idea to Channel 5 for a reality TV show.

When I did finally manage to make contact with my elusive phone interview candidate on the other side of the world, just seconds before a pneumatic drill started up outside the open window, I simply stuck a finger in the non-phone ear and reminded myself it could be a whole lot worse if Skype was involved.

Two Ears Are Better Than One

Bored with my very successful experiment to see how long I can make a single hearing aid slim tube last, and motivated by sensational reports of increased hearing ability from my cookie bite buddies with two hearing aids, I decided to phone Clinic O to see if it was possible to investigate the possibility of hearing through both ears on the NHS. I dialled the number on the back of my ‘What can I expect from my new hearing aid?’ leaflet, noting the use of the singular ‘aid’, and prepared myself for a life changing conversation.

“Oh, ear day linit”, said the person at the other end of the line.

I paused for a second while the cookie bite cortex deftly reassembled the sounds into ‘Hello, hearing aid clinic’. Satisfied I was through to the right place, I continued in my usual assertive manner.

“Errrrm…I…er, I was given a hearing aid from you a couple of years ago, and errm, I wonder if it’s possible to make an appointment to see if I could try two…I’ve got similar loss in both ears, I’ve heard two are better than one…”

There was a pause from ear day linit, and the sound of computer keys rattling.

“You don’t seem to have had your hearing aid serviced…”

“Serviced?” I spluttered, “Oh! I didn’t know I had to get it serviced…nobody told me that…”

“Oh yes, you’re supposed to get it serviced every six months. I’ll book you in for a service, you’ll find you’ll hear much better with it after that.”

Not in the right ear I won’t, I sighed to myself, reeling off my date of birth and anticipating a nice quiet Monday afternoon next week.

This train is for Largs

There is always plenty of on-board entertainment to be had when travelling by Scotrail, and Saturday’s journey to the seaside to enjoy a rare two days of unbroken sunshine was no exception. We had barely left Glasgow Central when a commotion broke out several seats away.

“See you pal, you’re gonnae huv tae dae somethin aboot that dug!” shouted the ticket woman as a full carriage load of people jumped in unison at the sudden barking and snarling coming from a previously unseen creature lurking in the priority seating. There followed a heated exchange, but it was rather one sided because the dug’s owner had a frustratingly inaudible voice.

“…So you’re saying it’s my fault the dug’s attacking me?” shouted the ticket woman.

“WOOF WOOF WOOF…GRRRRR!” responded the dug in self defence, before lunging at her hand.

“That’s bloody ridiculous…get a muzzle on that thing” shouted the ticket woman before exiting as speedily as possible to the sound of claws scrabbling on lino and a straining choke chain.

As the dug’s owner issued some soothing words to his insulted pet, quiet returned, but only for a short while. It seemed that the dug had sophisticated motion sensors which were setting off his vocal cords every time a passenger moved. Meanwhile, a family a few seats up were also beginning to increase in volume, now that their Irn Bru and crisps had been polished off. In startling contrast to Fido’s owner, who treated his dog like a delicate child, this lot spoke to their children like dogs.

“SIT!”

“DOWN!”

“GET AFFAE THAT SEAT, YOU, AH’LL NO TELL YE AGAIN!”

“SEE IF YOU BITE ME WAN MAIR TIME!”

“STOAP CHEWIN MA MAGAZINE!”

This endless loop of commands shouted at high volume to no effect whatsoever, was suddenly interrupted by a further round of barking and snarling from FrankenFido, followed by a very piercing scream from within the family group. I sat up like a meerkat and saw Pa lifting his youngest child to safety by the scruff of the neck. Uh-oh, I thought. The fatherly response to the averted dog attack was swift.

“STOP ANNOYIN’ THE DUG, YA WEE MIDDEN!” shouted Pa to his offspring.

I looked out of the window and was relieved to catch sight of the rapidly approaching seafront. The train pulled into the station and there was a sudden mass exodus of buckets and spades, leaving the spouse and I to continue the rest of the journey in peace. Until some tinny chipmunk music from a mobile phone started up.

“GRRRRRRRR”, I snarled.

Excuse Me

“Mind if I do a bit of work on this air conditioning unit?” said a man in overalls, as I waited in a hastily acquired empty room for a student to arrive for a tutorial. I did mind, but the man had a job to do.

“Will it be noisy?” I asked.

“No, only if I start singing”, came the reply. “I’ll be quiet as a mouse.”

I turned back to the computer and continued sifting through emails to the accompaniment of some loud metallic clanking and bashing. After a few minutes I was beginning to feel somewhat irritated, but then suddenly the noise stopped. I looked up hoping it was all over, but a question was on its way.

“Excuse me, do you wear *CLANK* by any chance?” said the man, giving something one last bash with his hammer and drowning out the object of his enquiry.

“Do I wear what?” I said, dreading what the missing noun was going to be. Chanel No.5? A bra? A built-up shoe? It couldn’t be a hearing aid, because people generally only mention those in jest, assuming you couldn’t possibly be wearing one.

“Glasses…do you wear glasses”, repeated the man.

“…Er, contact lenses”, I replied hesitantly, wondering whether the man had been watching Twelve Angry Men and spotted the lop-sided imprint of my glasses on the bridge of my nose, or the groove dug by their left leg in my overcrowded behind the ear space.

“Why do you ask?” I asked.

“It’s just that you’re hunched over that computer with your face right next to the screen. Makes you look blind. Thought you might have forgotten your glasses.”

I thanked the man for his observation, and although I was slightly disappointed that he wasn’t as observant as Juror No. 9 in Twelve Angry men after all, he had inadvertently uncovered the reason for my recently cricked neck.

Consonant Harmony

“How’s your food?” asked the spouse hesitantly as I tucked into his lovingly prepared home made burgers and potato wedges at the Buteshack last night.

We had been dining in silence after a slight contretemps over some bathroom DIY earlier, where the spouse had walked brown floor adhesive all over the carpet, and a 1kilo plastic tub of window putty had fallen off an overloaded shelf on to my painfully naked big toe. The one with the bunion. Both of us had been the authors of our own misfortunes but had chosen to blame each other in the heat of the moment, because that’s one of the major benefits of being in a relationship.

Some peace-making was now required.

“Absolutely delicious, Hun, best yet”, I replied with exaggerated gusto, so as to reassure him that his status as Domestic God was restored.

“No, not your food”, said the spouse, “your foot…FOO-T.”

“Oh that…it’s fine”, I lied, amazed at how much eating burgers can affect your hearing.

 

TorchYourself.com is born

Clayed Moira on left, try it yourself. Don’t try the one on the right

“See that woman in Sainsbury’s”, said the spouse as he spread some funny looking paté on a piece of toast yesterday, “the one that torched herself on the checkout? She’s a right nutter. I mean, you go up to the till with your basket, right, and she’s looking at you as if…”

“Torched herself?” I interrupted, suddenly showing a morbid interest in what had previously been an extremely dull conversation. “Why did she do that?” I had just been having great fun claying myself on clayyourself.com, but I couldn’t see anyone having much fun torching themself.

“…What?” said the spouse, losing his thread.

“You said: that woman, ‘the one that torched herself in Sainsbury’s’…”

“…Eh?” said the spouse, “don’t know where you got that from.”

“Think!” I commanded. I was going to have to walk him through the last sentence without risking him going right back to the start of the story. “You said: ‘see that woman in Sainsbury’s, the one that torched herself’… ”

“Christ!” wailed the spouse, “Talks to herself. TALKS. TO. HERSELF.”

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?”

Quiet Revolution

I am currently having some sort of existential meltdown which is causing me to behave in an uncharacteristically reckless manner, and strangely, it’s very liberating. I defiantly used my hand instead of the cake tongs at the Sainsbury’s pastry counter the other morning, and was amazed to find that nothing happened. No accusing hand on the shoulder, no microbiological swabbing enforcement order, no bill for 25 fruit scones because they’d had to bin the whole basket after I’d contaminated the air around my chosen scone with my hand, nothing.

Wow, I thought, if nothing bad happens when I don’t use the cake tongs, what would happen if I tried something more daring, like saying ‘No’ to a request at work? It was not long before a suitable opportunity presented itself via the medium of the telephone, as I attempted to eat my bowl of soup at lunchtime and answer emails at the same time. The caller got the usual, “Eh? Who is it?” as I missed their name during the vital seconds it takes to rapidly stab the volume button on the phone the ten times it takes to get it to its feeble maximum volume. Then they got an uncharacteristic ‘No’ to their request. I gulped as I saw myself receiving a final warning at a Disciplinary Hearing, but the response of “That’s okay, I totally understand, I’ll see if I can find someone else” took me totally by surprise.

Blimey, I thought, if nothing bad happens when I say ‘No’ to a request, what would happen if, say, I deliberately turned up late for something? I flirted briefly with the idea, before deciding that reckless lateness was a step too far. I needed something less frightening to practise on. I looked around my desk for inspiration. What if…what if I saved the volume settings on the shared office phone handset, so that everyone else had to press the volume button ten times at the start of every call to turn it down, instead of me having to press it ten times at the start of every call to turn it up? I felt an exhilarating frisson of excitement as I picked up the handset, stabbed the volume button ten times and saw the words SAVE VOLUME SETTINGS? appear as usual. There was no hesitation as I hit the SAVE button, whilst letting out an evil laugh in the empty office.

“Everything okay, Moira?” said a puzzled student who had just appeared in the doorway.

“Fine, just fine”, I replied, taking the last mouthful of cold chicken soup.


Archives

Blog Stats

  • 183,194 hits