The Virtues of Deafness

It has now been a month since our sojourn to Thailand (the annals of which shall be written up if I ever find time). Positive effects of said holiday lasted one week, which was quite good I thought, considering that it pissed with rain for 6 out of 7 days, I was jetlagged and didn’t get enough sleep and was slotted immediately onto on my treadmill of library-thesis-research. Then the seasonal affective disorder returned and I went back to being my usual gloomy self.

Not a great deal has been happening, and not a great deal shall happen, for the next five months, whereupon I shall hand my thesis in. However, the thesis is going well at last, if nothing else is. I have also been cheered by the appearance of blossoms, daffodils and the absurdly sunny days. Elliot maintained that April was the cruellest month, but I always thought February was. This year it looks like neither of us it right.

I was ruffled however, by an incident at the corner store, when I finally had to explain to the pint-sized old Hindu lady, from whom I have been buying milk from for a year, that I was deaf. I wanted to buy a packet of Pringles, having one of my 6-monthly cravings for chips, but I couldn’t hear what the price was as she never speaks loudly. Eventually she rolled her eyes, and (on the verge of tears) I said that I was deaf and wearing a hearing aid.

‘Oh, you’re like that, are you? I never knew.’ she said. Ten out of ten for tact, wouldn’t you say? And of course you didn’t know you stupid cow, but that doesn’t mean you can treat your customers badly. So she can take her Pringles and her milk and shove it; I’m going to the Muslim guys whose shop is in the other direction.

I’ve been reading on the theory of disability for my thesis, so I’ve been thinking about these things more than usual. In a book titled Enforcing Normalcy, published in 1995, I came upon the following: ‘until now, American Sign Language was listed in the data base [of libraries] as an “invented language” along with the language of the Klingons of Star Trek’ (4). My oh my, haven’t we come such a long way.

Meanwhile, I loathe the word ‘disability’ and think it should be taken out of the English lexicon. Look at it – it contains the word ‘dis’ and is inherently negative. No person is disabled, they just have a different way of operating in the world. Yet a lot of the books I’ve read about deafness and disability have been quite negative. Sure, it sucks to be deaf, but there isn’t much point on dwelling on the bad things if there’s nothing you can do about it. And there are indeed positive aspects, such as not being able to hear your flatmate bonking in the room above you (which is occurring as I write, hence I have my hearing aid turned very firmly off). H, however is not so lucky, but God blessed him with a wonderful sense of humour, as evidenced by the following textual exchange, which took place during the day, as I was coming back from the Millais exhibition at Tate Britain:

To H
OK, so I officially have a problem. Have accidentally bought b’day gifts to self from Topshop but the dress is AMAZING. Shall wear it on b’day. Hope A ok etc xx

To J
Oh dear. Never mind, you deserve present for self. Just got back, fuckwit knobend is here. Currently locked [with A] in her room. Oh joy. xoxo

To H
Oh my god, how disgusting. On my way back now. Xx

To J
I think there may be a localised earth tremor in East London. Strange vibrations in the house. And screaming! Maybe a book fell on A.

To H
I need to write a blog entry titled The Virtues of Deafness and message it to e’one on Facebook.

To J
Doesn’t matter, it’ll be over in 38s … like clockwork.

I have cautiously turned on my hearing aid. There appears to be …silence. Maybe it’s safe to venture out now and see if the foundations are still sound.

Time to open Facebook … or not … ought one to maintain a sense of civility in such situations?

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3 Responses to “The Virtues of Deafness”

  1. ‘Tis a bit inconsiderate of A! Have you really joined the masses on Facebook? I must look for you …

  2. ‘Bonking’. Haha, I haven’t heard that word for years.

  3. Yeah, and I used the word ‘daggy’ last week and got pilloried for it. It’s embarrassing: my vocab is stuck in 1980s rural Australia.

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