Saturday, July 11, 2009
Hear no evil
Hello readers, Daddy's home. I had a new experience today that I wanted to tell you about: A deaf person was rude to me. That's just not the sort of thing that you can plan for when you get up in the morning, is it.
I was on the tube - the Northern line, as it happens - and I heard somebody talking in a strange way. Turning to see what was going on, I saw it was a deaf person. I could tell, because he was doing sign language. He was talking in that way that deaf people have of talking. You can kind of replicate it by trying to say words and making the sounds, but not using the normal shapes of the mouth for the word you're trying to say. Also it helps if you make your voice a bit more nasal than normal and kind of slur your words a bit.
Anyway, I find sign language absolutely fascinating - I have done ever since four weddings and a funeral came out, so I've been interested in sign language for just as long as I've been completely unable to stand Andie Fucking McDowell, the stuck up, stupid-faced little princess - and I've always wanted to learn how to do it. It's right up there with the saxophone and a photography course in terms of things I've always wanted to do but never really found the time. If I get made redundant again, I'll be sure to do one of those things, and not just sit around doing nothing like last time.
So I was captivated by the sight of the sign language and I was trying to see if I could discern any words or phrases. The only thing I know how to do is sign 888 which I learned from off the telly because that was the ceefax page the deaf subtitles were on. It's a bit like the scissors shape in paper scissors stone, and you do it three times. Or maybe the deaf woman on the telly was just playing paper scissors stone all the time. Who knows? If she was, it would have been easy to beat her. Stone, every time.
Back to the tube, though, and I would class what I was doing as observation. But the deaf bloke thought I was staring.
"What are you bloody staring at?" he said to me. (He said it twice because I didn't understand him the first time. I used the universal sign language of the shrug to convey that his speech was unintelligible to me.)
"I'm just watching your "signing"," I said, taking care to enunciate carefully and slowly, which was pointless when you think about it, because he was deaf. I also mimed those finger quotation marks that people use, as an indication that I was tuned in to the concept. "I've always been interested in learning to understand your language," I explained, thinking that this might start a little, tube-based journey of discovery for both of us. I was quite wrong. Because instead of giving me a brief tutorial, he just stuck his middle finger up at me and said:
"Do you understand this mate? Fuck off!"
I was really shocked. You just don't expect the deaf to do things like that, do you. I mean, where the hell do they pick up language like that anyway? I muttered a few choice words under my breath, which was a mistake because then he said:
"I can lip read too, you stupid prick."
At this point some of the other passengers started laughing at me, which is really unfair. Why should they laugh at me? It's not like I'm the deaf one, after all. I'm normal. So I just put my iPod on. That showed him. What he didn't know, however, was that the battery was flat. So there wasn't any actual sound coming out. I guess that really put me in his shoes. I was disappointed because I had been hoping to ask him whether or not when the deaf get drunk their sign language gets sloppy, like the speech of the hearing does. I've always wanted to know that.
It's funny how people say "I swear blind" but not "I swear deaf".
When I was a kid I had a friend who had been deaf up until the age of five when, out of frustration at his inability to hear, his dad clouted him one round the head. This caused a blockage in his ears that he'd been born with to shift, and all of a sudden he could hear. It was like a little miracle.
Tell that to the anti-smacking lobby, though. And the doctors. After all, if you suggested that kids showing signs of deafness should be given a clout or two, just to see if it helps, like when the telly's not working - which helps, sometimes - you'd be derided as some kind of savage. It's political correctness gone mad.
I wonder where Mr Coleman stands on the issue of capital punishment. This is interesting because Mr C is a teacher and this week a teacher lost his rag and - according to the news - smashed some kid over the head, putting him in hospital. Surely teachers must come close to doing this all the time. It surprises me, to be honest, that it doesn't happen more often. At least one teacher at my school was driven to a nervous breakdown by bullying pupils.
It was two brothers that did it. Paul and Norman Rice. I don't mind naming them because I'm pretty sure they couldn't read when they left school and I doubt they bothered to learn subsequently. They both went to work at the family business, which was a car park. It was just a field, really. And they charged people 50p to park on it. I think they were a bit messed up in the head. I don't want to be crude, but there were a lot more relationships than family members in that family, if local rumour was to be believed. Not so much a gene pool as a gene puddle. Once they chased the tallest boy in school (he was 6'7") and trapped his head in a netball hoop that they'd dragged out of the sports hall on its post. It was like watching some prehistoric hunt. Terrifying. I know it's not nice to think bad things out people, but I really hope they're dead.
Not that I was guilt free. We all of us abused the weaker willed teachers at one point or another. I tended just to lie, rather than bully. But teacher bullying was a problem and I'm not going to judge the guy who's been arrested until all the facts are there. Not that i'm suggesting, either, that the kid was to blame. Looks like he'll pull through, which s good. But it's interesting that other pupils have gone to the court with letters of support for the teacher. Let us not be hasty, readers.
Anyway, regular readers will know that Mr C is soon to have some pretty major surgery. We'll be thinking of you Mr C. Let us know when you go in and when you get out again and we'll have a little welcome back party in the blogosphere. Mos def (gangster speak for most definitely).