Posts Tagged 'misunderstandings'

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Despite the severe weather warnings on Thursday, my intrepid colleague and I set off for the new Museum of Transport designed by Zaha Hadid, to head off any students who hadn’t seen the notice telling them that the visit was cancelled because of adverse weather. After huddling in the driving rain, we were the first to enter when the museum opened at 10:00, and were made very welcome by the lady handing out floorplans at the door. We greeted the first few bedraggled students, then I set off enthusiastically for the new and improved Victorian Street Reconstruction to see how it compared with the old one. It was very good, and when I spotted a sign for the Subway, I was over there like a shot. I was so excited that I didn’t notice the man in the Glasgow Museums uniform shouting “Excuse me!” until he came striding assertively into my line of vision.

“Oh”, I said, “sorry, I didn’t hear you I’m a bit er…”

The man wasn’t in the mood for beating about the bush.

“Excuse me, who ARE you?” he said, in the manner of someone who was about to make a citizen’s arrest after recognising a suspect from Crimewatch UK.

My mind went into overdrive. The last person to ask me “Excuse me, who are you?” was my mother, but she put the emphasis on the normal ‘you‘ whereas this geezer was putting the emphasis on ‘are‘. This implied I wasn’t who he thought I was purporting to be, but since I didn’t know who he thought I was, and he hadn’t said “Wait a minute…you’re not that woman off the telly are you?”, I wondered how I should best answer his question.

I weighed up whether I should just say my name, state my occupation, or adopt the more Rumpelstiltskinesque strategy of saying “I’ll give you three guesses”, before grabbing a fossilised baguette from the French Café exhibit to use as a weapon, and running for the exit.

The man was getting impatient.

“Just WHAT do you think you’re doing here?” he said, in an even more puzzling development. I eyed up the fossilised baguette. The Crimewatch UK hypothesis was looking more likely by the minute. Fiona Bruce’s grave tones cut in to my silence: “The woman has thin curly hair, is slightly scruffy in appearance and may be wearing a hearing aid. Members of the public are advised to exercise caution when approaching her from behind.”

Suddenly, the museum attendant looked down at his watch. When he looked up again, he had undergone an instant personality change.

“Och,” he said apologetically, “I didn’t realise it’s after ten o’clock…we open at ten. I thought you were an intruder. We get some right strange people in here sometimes.”

I’m clearly one of them.

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She Ain’t Heavy…

“It’s okay, she’s my sister!” said big bruv to a concerned looking colleague who had just popped her head in the door of his surgery to say goodnight. The sight of my brother astride me in the dental chair and pointing his iPhone into my mouth must have looked a little odd from behind, but bruv was determined to get a good photo of the mysterious swollen entity which has set up home in my palate recently. The antibiotics have failed to shift it, so it’s time for a referral to the hospital to find out what’s going on.

“So, er, what will they actually do?” I asked with slight trepidation, hoping for a cheery description of some high-tech NASA imaging scenario (sans hearing aid this time of course), followed by a quick jab of Novocaine and a light brush with tweezers. Sadly, the answer was slightly less attractive. To my horror it contained the words ‘incision’, ‘flap’ and ‘exposed bone’ all in the one sentence.

I’m assured it won’t hurt a bit. Hmmm

Uninvited Guests

As I was squeezing into my wellies on the doorstep of the Buteshack on Saturday morning, our upstairs neighbour got out of his car and called the spouse over.

“Have you seen what we’ve got living out the back?” he said mysteriously. The rest was inaudible owing to his conspiratorial tones, but the spouse’s foghorn replies were coming through loud and clear.

“Oh my god!” exclaimed the spouse, “Cats…round the back? Where?”

Cats! My ears pricked up. Maybe they’ve got cute kittens, I thought excitedly. My imagination went into overdrive and I saw us fastening diamond studded velvet collars round little kitten necks. I hastily forced the second welly on, so that I could get to the other side of the road to find out more.

Our neighbour was already half way through his story when I joined the conversation.

“They’re living in the sheds”, he said in hushed tones, “it’s the bird feeders they’re after…we’ve put some poison out…seems to be working, I found a dead one on the path this morning.”

Dead! I had a flashback to crying my eyes out in the Mosspark Cinema in 1972, after seeing a basket of kittens being thrown into a river and swept away in Walt Disney’s The Aristocats.

“Yuk!” said the spouse, jolting me back to the present, “…what did you do with it?”

“Threw it over the back wall into the bushes…big horrible tail and staring eyes”, said our neighbour with a shiver. “It ate my golfballs, you know…”

Eh? I thought, before asking for a recap. Our neighbour obliged.

“Oh,” I said with relief, “rats…rats, I get it now”.

 

Sound Thought 2011 Part 3

The audience hushed as the presenter appeared in the beam of a spotlight with a ream of A4 sheets of white paper held to his chest. At well-timed intervals, successive sheets dropped from his hands and fluttered poetically into the darkness. “Hear the sounds all around you” read the text*on one. “Hear the sound of your heart beating” said another.

The audience was experiencing Benn Dunn’s ‘Signed Sound’ presentation, which began with a soundless performance piece, referencing, amongst other things, the composer John Cage’s experience in an anechoic chamber. Despite the hearing aid’s enthusiasm for sampling all the least poetic aspects of the unique acoustic ambience of Arch 6, I was enraptured. Even when one of the captions said “hear the gentle sound of this sheet of paper hitting the floor”. Well, that’s what imagination is for, I said to myself, but I started to get a bit worried when the size of the lettering suddenly started to become smaller a few sheets further on. “Raise your hand if you are having difficulty reading this” said a well-timed sheet. Keen to preserve my silent listening experience, I immediately stuck my hand up. I was the only one.

“Oh…” said Ben, introducing the first unplanned utterance to the silence. “Is it the lighting? How about if I stand here?”

Thanks to me, John Cage had just left the room.

Chairs creaked as nineteen silhouetted heads turned to see who the perceptually challenged person at the back was. Eager to ensure my soundless listening comfort, Ben followed the trajectory of his previous piece of paper and leapt athletically from the stage into the darkness.

“Better?” he said hopefully.

“No, it’s not the lights”, I replied, in the second unplanned utterance, “I’m just really short-sighted.” There was a burst of laughter from the audience, and I suddenly felt very glad of the darkness.

Half an hour later things were back on track and, to the delight of the woman at the back with the dodgy eyesight and the hearing aid, Robert Fulford’s ‘Hearing-Impaired Musicians’ Use and Experience of Hearing Aid Technology’ presentation appeared on the screen. Thankfully there were no sheets of A4 paper in sight.

A very poised presenter, Robert explained that he was in the first year of his PhD at the Royal Northern College of Music and went on to describe his research to date. He is interested in what motivates hearing impaired musicians, what challenges they face and how they are overcome. He has been interviewing a selection of musicians (ranging from amateur to professional) who use hearing aids, and recording their views on how useful, or otherwise, aids are to their performance and enjoyment of music. Some of his sample musicians were born deaf or hearing impaired, and some lost their hearing later in life to different degrees. Some used hearing aids when playing, and some did not. It was interesting to hear about those musicians, some of them profoundly deaf, who preferred to play unaided, and really sad to hear about those who needed to play aided, but lived in fear of their old analogue aids dying, because they found digital aids unusable for music. The personal accounts which Robert featured were very vivid and I look forward to hearing about how his research progresses.

We had a nice chat afterwards, and then I disappeared out on to the gale lashed streets. The musical mushrooms were still tinkling away merrily in their bell jar as I passed.

 

*my paraphrasing of Ben’s text from memory…apologies!

Come Again?

Term 1 inched one step nearer to a close the other day, with a staff seminar which I had signed up for only after carefully scrutinising all the paperwork to make sure that there was no mention of breakout groups, following last month’s debacle. With the Christmas holidays in sight, the select group of 12 participants were in high spirits. Not even the tragic absence of the usual coffee and buns could dampen the festive cheer.

As the afternoon’s aims were squeakily plotted out with a marker pen on the customary flipchart by the facilitator, a colleague began a whispered aside to me, but quickly gave up after getting a mouthful of curly hair, as I leant my ear to his lips in vain. Sensing a slight restlessness in the audience, the facilitator laid down his marker pen for a moment  and said, pointing to his bullet points,

“Are you all able to read that okay?”

Blimey, not even I’m that short-sighted, I thought, as I nodded my head compliantly from ten feet away.

“Are you saying that you think we all need glasses?” piped up an equally puzzled colleague with less inhibitions than me.

“Don’t be stupid, he’s just wondering how many of us actually know how to read”, piped up another to great snorts of laughter.

“That’s not what I meant,” sighed the facilitator, realising it was going to be a long couple of hours, “I was just wondering if you could read my handwriting”.

Here’s Lookin’ At You

 

Could be time to dust these off if the fashion pundits are to be believed...

The spouse has been feeling recently that, even with his reading glasses on, his arms are not  quite long enough to allow him to focus on restaurant menus any more. It was with this in mind that we took a quick detour to an optician on the way to meet some friends for lunch yesterday.

The optician’s shop was empty when we arrived, so we were immediately cornered by the sales assistant. The spouse explained how his prescription had changed, while he fumbled to get his existing glasses out of the case, as if this would prove the point.

“…So you’re looking for something a bit more up to date?” said the assistant.

“Are you saying these frames are dated?” said the spouse, insulted, “I only got them a couple of years ago.”

“I was talking about your prescription, not your frames.” said the assistant, equally insulted.

After a quick rundown on all the complicated 2 for the price of 1 offers,  the spouse set about the complicated task of trying on frames. I was supposed to be looking at frames for myself, but I was immediately distracted by the plethora of mirrors. They gave me a good chance to eye up my stylish new coat with its generous lapels. Sadly, my illusions were shattered when I saw Richard E Grant in ‘Withnail and I’ staring back at me, so I quickly turned my attention back to spectacle frames.

“What about these ones?” said the spouse hopefully.

“Mmmmmm…dunno…..maybe….oh god, I’m crap at this, I’m too indecisive.” I replied.

“How about these black ones?”

“No. Mutant Ninja Turtle.”

“And these?”

“Absolutely not. Laurence Olivier in ‘Marathon Man’.”

“And these?”

“Schubert.”

“These?”

“Axe murderer.”

“Can I help you?” interjected the assistant as the spouse accidentally and noisily dislodged the glass door to the display case in his eagerness to get to a pair of hideous plastic frames which matched the NHS pair he’d left in the departure lounge at Singapore airport five years ago, much to my relief at the time.

“The NHS specs look is coming back,” said the assistant enthusiastically as the spouse tried his dubious choice on under my incredulous stare. “It’s really quite fashionable just now.”

Crikey, I thought, imagining what envious glances I could attract in Glasgow’s Style Mile with a pair of NHS specs and an NHS hearing aid.


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