Posts Tagged 'Hearing loss'

What Was That Announcement? Things You’re Unlikely To See #5

live train information

Ah, just imagine…live text announcements to your mobile to translate the unintelligible mumblings from a station PA system. A technological step too far for Scotrail, perhaps, but maybe there is an alternative.

I often stare at the Information section of the train departures board in the hope that it will tell me something more useful than not to feed the pigeons, not to smoke within the station or not to leave my luggage unattended. It seems I am the only one, however, because everywhere you look on the concourse there are pigeons wrestling chips with their stumps, and pecking at fag butts and unattended suitcases.

Standalone live PA system announcements for the deaf/ HOH might arguably take up too much space on the board, but what if the pigeon alerts on the board could alternate with text announcements?  It would also help the 98% of the populace who don’t care about not feeding the pigeons and can’t make out the PA announcements either. Two for the price of one.

I know for a fact this system could work. Scotrail love alternating displays, and already have a sophisticated system in place at minor stations which only have one monitor. It somehow detects when you are about to look at the screen for vital train information, and immediately switches to a useless warning not to leave unattended luggage. I find the system is particularly effective when you are rushing.

I used to try and trick the sensors by pretending to look away as I approached, until I misjudged some stairs in the bowels of Glasgow Central and nearly ended up under the Garscadden train. If the secret alternating display system could be deployed usefully to make space for live text announcements on the main destination board, however, my embarrassing trip might not have been in vain…

Background photo cropped from Departures board, Glasgow central railway station  courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


It has been a bad week. For anyone, including the alarmed passer-by, who witnessed the swearing woman rooted to the spot at a street corner after touching one ear on Friday morning, I would like to announce that there is an explanation.

Since it is not the first time the scenario has happened, I feel it is now worthy of some definitions:

1. Lugstruck temporary state of paralysis induced by the realisation that your hearing aids are on the bedside table and not on your ears, as you’re running to catch a train or bus. The distance you are likely to cover before this realisation occurs is annoyingly governed by the equation: amount of pressure you are under to get to where you need to go, divided by degree of hearing loss. I seem to be able to get furthest on days where I cannot afford to be late.

2. Pessoptimism loop temporary fluctuating state of belief that you don’t need to hear anything today anyway, and that the 08:32 train will be leaving the station with you on board. Then reality dawns.

3. Hearing aid hotfoot ungainly sprint back to base to connect hearing aids to ears.

4. Delaid hearing aid related lateness, resulting from all of the above.


The Look of Love…and Hearing Loss

At the pub last night, the spouse ordered a bottle of cava in the hope that they would make the same mistake as they had last week, and serve us up a £45 bottle of champagne by accident. They didn’t, but the glamorous woman sitting in a group next to us was impressed with the extravagance of cava nonetheless. After a while, she caught the spouse’s attention.

“Excuse me, what are you celebrating?” she asked, emboldened by her own large glass of Pinot Grigio.

“Reaching the end of the week alive”, said the spouse cheerfully, before adding that it was our wedding anniversary in a week or two, in order to appear a little less cynical.

“How long have you been married?” she asked.

“Oh god, erm, it’s been about nine years…yes, nine years”, said the spouse, as the shocking realisation dawned.

“NINE YEARS?” shrieked the glamorous woman, in surprise.

I braced myself for what might come next, in case it was “What…to HER?” but my fears were unfounded.

“That’s SOOOOOOOOO sweet”, she crooned. “You both look so in love, I thought you’d just got together. You’ve been staring into each other’s eyes all evening.”

Each other’s lips, perhaps…

Test or Toast?

“Must remember to ask someone to put a seat on this flippin’ toilet”, I said to myself for the umpteenth time since the start of term, prompted by the familiar touch of cold ceramic. This encouraged me not to linger any longer than necessary, and turned out to be fortuitous. When I emerged from the toilet after the quietest few minutes I’d had all day, I discovered that the fire alarm was sounding and there was a distinct air of the Marie Celeste about the place.

Cripes, how long has that been going off for? I said to myself, glad that if this was a real fire, the missing toilet seat might just have saved my life. I spotted a freshly made cup of tea and a steaming bowl of porridge abandoned in the kitchen area, and this persuaded me it was time to leave. I set off for the nearest exit, feeling slightly nostalgic for our old building and its painfully loud alarm system which necessitated fingers in ears and a swift exit, no matter where you were when it went off. It was clearly put in place by someone who understood the difficulty of trying to empty a building of students in under five hours.

The new building, previously a call centre, has a much quieter alarm and it would appear that two toilet doors are enough to come between me and it. Just as I was wondering how many hearing impaired people had emerged from institutional toilets over the years to find themselves engulfed by a wall of flames, the fire alarm stopped. Thankfully, it was a test after all.

I added ‘get toilet seat’ to my high-level academic To Do list, and made a mental note never to spend more than two minutes in the toilet in future, just in case.

Kookybite Innovation #6

My quest for the perfect hearing aid-free digital piano playing experience is being hampered by a combination of total ignorance of music software and hardware, combined with extreme impatience with technological matters. The sort of impatience that can lead to things getting smashed up.

I want to equalize the output of my Clavinova as I’m playing it, to fill in the cookie bite, but I don’t know what I’m doing.  Recent exposure to my mistakes is causing the spouse to run away in terror with his hands over his ears whenever he sees the laptop going anywhere near the piano.

Someone invent this plug-in thingy that does it all for me. Pleeeeeease.


Update 11 Sep 2015…come on, I’m still waiting





These were the last words I heard for the next few minutes after audiology person No.1 connected a wire from his computer to the hearing aid in my left ear, as audiology person No.2 did a bit of on-screen adjustments. Moments later, there was a mouseclick and bang! I pulled my head away instinctively from a painfully loud noise in the earhole, but it was too late. The next thing I knew, I was in a silent movie, set in a hospital hearing aid clinic, with a very loud ringing sound in my head as the soundtrack.

“Bloody hell, what was that?” I said, rather alarmed that I now had no voice.

I never got an answer to my question because nobody else had a voice either, just moving lips. I guessed that those sliders hadn’t been set to zero after all, and I wondered if I was the only person that morning who was going to leave the hearing aid clinic deafer than I came in. Fortunately, my hearing came back after a few minutes, but I’ve been somewhat wary of computers and loud noises ever since.

Yesterday afternoon, I was reminded of this incident as I connected the sound output of my MacBook to my digital piano to partake of a bit of cheesy GarageBand fun. I’m still trembling. With 60 watts of Yamaha Clavinova speaker power behind it, that Mac startup chime is very loud. Beware.

Tweet Twit

Spring has definitely sprung, and it’s been birds, birds, birds all weekend on Bute. Big ones, small ones, ones that sound like birds, ones that sound like squeaky gates and car alarms, and ones that sound like cats miaowing. One of these days, I’ll find out what type of bird makes each sound, but matching the sound with a sighting of the bird is tricky, especially when one keeps looking in the wrong direction. The soaring gull high overhead today that sounded like a plane was an entertaining collage of ears, eyes and confused brain which made me realise that, with my defective sound locating faculties, I’ll never be able to get a job as an air traffic controller.

This was a double blow, since after this morning’s walk along the beach, a career in ornithology is now out as well. As I rushed to show the spouse this beautiful newly-hatched egg I’d found, I was rather disappointed to discover that it was actually a washed up ping pong ball.


I was having a nice dream about being on board an ocean liner with Jeremy Irons last night, when my sun-kissed fantasy was intruded upon by the distant and rather incongruous sound of an alarm. I tried to ignore it for a while, but it was getting much louder.

“I’m sorry, Jeremy, I’ve got to go”, I said, looking longingly into his eyes and knocking back the last of my dry martini. I was a bit disappointed that he didn’t try to stop me leaving, and the next thing I knew, I was back in dreary Glasgow at 12:37am and a burglar alarm was going off somewhere. A particularly efficient and annoying burglar alarm.

I went to the window and did the usual pointless looking around outside, noting all the other shadowy figures standing at tenement windows in their nightclothes doing exactly the same thing. I was the only one cupping and uncupping my hands to my ears and swivelling my head as if doing a cheesy disco dance, though. Since I was dressed only in a shrunken t-shirt, I hastily returned to bed just in case anyone got the wrong idea.

“Wossahhhhtaaaaaamringnoise”, said the spouse as my head hit the pillow.



“Hammering noise…where?”

“OH, FOR GOD’S SAKE…IT DOESN’T MATTER”, came the grumpy reply.

Thanks to the spouse’s uncanny ability to hear through his earplugs, I now had a mental picture of a burglar on the prowl with a sledgehammer…perhaps an intruder had seen my bejewelled hearing aid covers on the internet and mistaken them for priceless artefacts…mmm, maybe not. Crimewatch UK would have to wait a while to feature that one. It was much more likely to be a false alarm coupled with some nocturnal clog dancing or something, and I hoped neither was about to become a regular occurrence.

Then I suddenly remembered the unused pair of earplugs I bought back in 2003. I got them after a drugged-up neighbour played Bono’s ‘One Love’ at full volume on a loop for eight hours. I swore I’d never go through that torture again.

I rummaged about in the dark until I found them and, although they were a little crusty to the touch after 8 years, they were still quite usable so I eagerly bunged them into the lugs and lay down. Result. Total silence. Well, apart from the alarmingly loud pounding of my heart in the left lug, and a familiar Minor Third chord ringing in the right.

After a couple of minutes, I opted to listen to the burglar alarm instead.

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.


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