We spoke on the ‘phone yesterday. Mum was thanking me for her birthday treat (see Part #3 for our planning session). I took her to see ‘Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense’ starring Mark Heap and Robert Webb and I cannot recommend it enough. It really was the most perfect nonsense – an absolute delight of brilliant comic timing and enchanting silliness.
Feeling super-femme on the day*, I decided to mince about in a Lady Outfit (yellow cardigan, navy pencil wiggle skirt with gold zip, bronze t-bar heels, red lips and a small floral bag swinging from the crook of my elbow). Mum, uncharacteristically, wore jeans. I wondered if they were new as I hadn’t seen them before.
And then yesterday, she revealed all…
Mum: Shall I tell you something that will make you laugh?
Me: Go on.
Mum: You’ll like this. You know I said the jeans I was wearing on Saturday felt a bit tight?
Me: You didn’t, but okay.
Mum: Didn’t I? Well when I got home I realised…they were your father’s!
Me: Ha! And you give me funny looks for wearing men’s clothes.
Mum: (Seriously) That’s different. I didn’t do it on purpose.
*Sometimes I feel feminine, sometimes I feel masculine. I dress and move accordingly. Today I’m wearing very sensible shoes. More on this later…
I am taking my mother to the theatre for a birthday treat. “What do you want to see?”, I say.
“Nothing weird”, she says.
“What do you call ‘weird’?”
“I don’t know”.
“Ok, leave it with me”.
She sees me before I see her. “Hey!” she says and smiles.
“Hey!” I say and smile back.
I have just emerged from the lift and I look like shit. Of course I do – four hours sleep, messy hair, no make-up and I am wearing an old grey cagoule that my mother bought at a jumble sale for 99p.
She was on ‘holiday’ she says, finishing her dissertation, doing job placements. There is no coffee counter between us. She isn’t in uniform and my lanyard is hidden. Here we are, in a small frustrated crowd of folks waiting for the lift, chatting like normal people, like acquaintances, like two old friends.
She is tired. I am tired. We compare tiredness. Perhaps I should tell her I am so tired, I need a lie down and would she care to join me (here, let’s get you out of those wet clothes…)?
I don’t, of course.
Her lift arrives, others get in, but she keeps chatting. This happens at least three times. As if she’s in no hurry to leave.
Mum: Do you want me to bring anything to the party?
Me: No it’s fine.
Mum: I’ve bought some balaclava.
Me: Are you coming as a terrorist?
Mum: No! What do I mean?
Me: You mean baklava.
Mum: That’s right, balaclava. It’s just a small one.
In this new series, “Fun with Deafness”, I shall attempt to illustrate why being hard of hearing can be so bloody entertaining. Yes yes, it is a disability, but it’s also fantastic. Why? I hear you ask*. Because instead of hearing whatever dull thing has actually been said, I often hear something else entirely. Something either hilarious and /or downright filthy. Either is good.
I’ve been hard-of-hearing all my life. It’s hereditary on my father’s side. I was advised to get hearing aids when I was eighteen, but pride, and a fierce reluctance to rely on anything else when I’d managed perfectly fine so far thank you very much, prevented me from taking this advice until I was 31. I suddenly thought, Hey – why not make life easier for yourself. It was a good move. (If anyone is interested in what starting to wear hearing aids is like, then I will gladly describe it for you in another post, because I wish someone had told me what to expect.)
My father is rather more deaf than I am and has worn hearing aids most of his life. If you speak to him when he’s not looking at you, he won’t even know you’re in the room. As a consequence, my mother speaks very loudly indeed.
Earlier this year, I was depressed. It was a pretty bad time. My parents came to visit and we went for a walk on Dulwich Common. We sat outside the cafe in the sunshine, eating ice-cream. Mum was worried about me and trying to help.
Mum: Would it help if we bought you a S.A.D. lamp?
Me: Not right now, it’s summer.
Dad: (not hearing) What’s that?
Mum: A SAD LAMP!
Dad: What does she want a Sat Nav for?!
*Obvs I didn’t hear you ask, you reading this in the comfort of your own space and me sitting in the Ritzy Cafe and let’s face it, even if you did come up to my face and say “Why?”, I probably wouldn’t hear it anyway, what with the deafness etc etc.
Mum: Do you want me to bring anything to your Chanukah party?
Me: Do you know how to make potato latkes?
Mum: Ugh! Never again! Not after the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.
Me: What’s it got to do with the Queen’s Silver Jubilee?
Mum: Me and your father, oh, we made over two hundred of them.
Me: Why did you make latkes for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee?
Mum: We were celebrating.