Posts Tagged 'speechreading'

All change

It’s day one of my long anticipated break. After a 15 minute lie-in I rejoiced at the thought of not having to get the 08:57 to Glasgow Central. I glanced sadly at the Siemens which has been dejectedly curled up in its nest since Tuesday’s disastrous tweaks rendered it useless other than for piano playing purposes where, strangely, it’s magnificent. Once up, I footered in the bathroom for much longer than usual, carefully noting my latest bits of anatomical collapse before lazily putting my contact lenses in the wrong eyes (don’t worry, I’ve only got one pair of eyes, R/L mixup intended meaning). As I reached for the nearly empty bottle of lens solution, yesterday morning’s note to self: ‘whatever you do today, remember to get more solution before we go to Bute’ came back to me about 24 hours too late. I don’t mind being seen with a hearing aid, but I’m damned if I’m going out and about with my Mrs Magoo specs. For glasses to be regarded as a fashion accessory, it’s essential to have a modest prescription. The designer frames go unnoticed when you’ve got six inch thick bottle-bottom lenses bulging out of them. So I headed off for the 08:57 to Glasgow Central.

Once at the station, I scrabbled in my purse to get the £1.60 to buy my ticket, carefully rounding up the mound of loose change which has accumulated through my never hearing what the price of things are at shop tills and just handing over as large a denomination as I think will safely cover the transaction. Like when I had to buy an extra ticket on the train the other day and the man said “one pound fifty please”. I unzipped my bulging coin compartment and gave him a precious two pound coin whilst retorting “one pound fifty? For one stop?”. “Naw, one-pound-fif-teen, pal” came the reply. He mouthed the words as if signing for the deaf and I wished he’d done that the first time round, because an additional eighty five pence in small change was now making its way from his hot trouser pocket into my already overloaded purse. I could’ve actually got rid of fifteen pennies if I’d heard right the first time.

So anyway, back to today’s ticket office. I gingerly slid my coin mountain under the bullet-proof glass, smugly noting that I was £1.60 nearer to having a purse of a normal weight again. The ticket man bent slowly forward and examined the pile of coppers carefully before performing a strange hypnotic hand movement which involved pinching his thumb and forefinger together over the pile and elegantly raising his hand as if pulling on an invisible string. He finished up by examining his pinched fingertips before muttering something incomprehensible. My blank stare made him say it again, so I realised that his spontaneous repetition required some sort of response from me. “Eh?” I said eloquently, hoping that would do the trick and adopting craned neck listening pose in anticipation.

“A’ this bloody chinge an yer geein me herr an aw, noo.” * said the ticket man as he pointedly dropped a familiar long curly hair on to the floor. I consoled myself with the thought that at least it was a long one, or he might have formed an even more unsavoury opinion of where my pennies had been.

*for international readers, Glaswegian for “All this bloody change and you’re giving me hair as well, now”

No shit, Sherlock

I’ve always known that I’ve not got particularly sharp hearing. In pubs and restaurants the spouse is always commenting on music that’s playing and whilst I can certainly hear that there’s music, I can never tell what it is. I last had a hearing test in primary one and it was the audiological equivalent of someone sneaking up behind you with a shipping siren to see if you jumped. Now that I think about it, though, there are several things that really ought to have alerted me. Unfortunately my infinite capacity for wonder at all things perceptual blinded me to the bleedin’ obvious. Take the phone: I’m right handed but have used the phone in my left hand all my life because I feel can’t hear properly when I use it right handed. The logical and obvious conclusion would be that the right ear is faulty, but I’ve always attributed it to a miraculous ‘all in the mind’ quirk of perception coupled with the need to keep my right hand free for doodling purposes.

Then there’s the sight. Having spent my whole life worrying about being extremely short-sighted, clearly I’ve been very pleased with the relative quality of all the other senses. A journal extract from 6 years ago should have rung some alarm bells, however. It describes how, having been cruelly stripped of my contact lenses during an eye test, I stepped in my handbag and fell over the bin on my way back from the sink to the chair, a taxing distance of approximately 1.5 metres. I then had to keep asking the now invisible optician to repeat everything because, as I noted, “It’s really weird…I can’t hear what people are saying when I don’t have my lenses in”.



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