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Indomitable Damsel

Deaf, deaf awareness, disability

Ignorance is the virus, therefore you MUST BE the cure.

I have expressed my opinion on Facebook and would like share it again on here to reach out to more people in order to educate you on why making mockery or insulting deaf people will not go down well at all.

I've left this status on public. Sorry it's a bit long but it really needs to said for once. I'll say this once so I expect you to take it all in and think about it and please share this to get your friends to read it, so they can learn from this.

I would like to talk about disability hate crime and it is taking place on here #facebook and I am so disappointed with them for being so slow to take action on this person who have been reposting the same videos over and over again mocking and insulting the deaf people in general. It is very obvious it is a disability hate crime and he has done this to provoke a reaction out of us.

For those who think our reaction to his disgusting attitude towards deaf people is over the top. Let me tell you, we're no snowflakes, we have faced endless barriers in terms of access, communication and attitudes from ignorant people. We have spent our entire lives repeating ourselves to make you understand our difficulties. It's your attitudes that makes us disabled. We are perfectly capable of doing lots of things but it's some of you that's complicit in making us feel invisible, worthless, inferior, lazy and lastly a joke to you. We are not going to be the butt of your jokes in order to be popular or either that you're simply stupid. You have forgotten the meaning of respect.
Let's take a look this meaning in case you have forgotten –

respect

rɪˈspɛkt/

noun

due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others.

"young people's lack of respect for their parents"

synonyms:due regard, consideration,thoughtfulness, attentiveness,politeness, courtesy, civility,deference

"he speaks to the old lady with respect"

(Take heed of this, DWP and our lovely (!) Tory government whose heads are so far up their asses, your PIP and ESA assesments are complete joke cos you've have driven some of us into despair with your ignorance.)

Let me tell you the history of oppression against the disabled in case you have forgotten or plainly ignorant. I suggest you to read http://www.historicengland.org.uk/research/inclusive-heritage/disability-history/ and look up on Google, there's an absolute minefield of information ( please educate yourself, it'll teach you something new)

Disabled people were sterilised without their consent and without their knowledge.

Disabled people were put into asylums and forgotten about.

Eugenics was introduced in 1930s so that every defective man, woman and child is a burden to the society. Disabled people should be segregated from everyone else.

During the 2nd World War, the Nazis performed experiments on the disabled and performed euthanasia to eliminate "life unworthy to life" using drugs and starvation instead of gassings. (Makes a very harrowing reading)

Take a look at The Deaf Holocaust slides

https://medical-testing.wikispaces.com/Medical+Testing-+The+Holocaust

It wasn't until 1981, when our UK government closed down asylums cos of scandals to neglect and abuse.

We finally get our Disablity Discrimination Act here in UK in 1995, which isn't much use but it has protected our rights to live as an equal as a "perfect" ( I say in quotes, do I refer you as an able bodied or "normal" or healthy.)

We finally get our Disability Hate crime in 2003 despite in US having it in 1969 and was expanded further in 2009.

After all that time, we finally are getting the same treatment as our peers but we are still facing anti disablist attitudes and ignorance. It slowly chips away on us, unless you go through it yourself. We have come this far but I believe strongly in education and starting from early age, for example teaching sign language in schools, teaching compassion and kindness instead of bombarding them with unnecessary knowledge in order to keep up with the government's targets.

I am disappointed with this… ( insert unsavoury comment ) idiot who thought it was funny to insult deaf people because we are supposed to be role models to set an example to one another.

I'll say this quote by Neil deGrasse Tyson

"Ignorance is a virus . Once it starts spreading, it can only be cured by reason. For the sake of humanity, we must be that cure."

In the words of my friend Sophie Stone
"We're ALL accountable".

Let's make this post viral, shall we? After all, you're the cure, spread what you have just learnt and pay it forward. Anyone could end up disabled today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. Kindness and compassion goes a long way.

#DisabilityIsntaJoke
#DisabilityHateCrime
#Deafnessisntalaughingmatter
#Indomitablespirits
#FacebookNotAccountable
#BeAccountableofYourActions

Five Myths of Dating a deaf person

I have spent enough time on dating and have met men from all backgrounds. I remember the good and the awkward moments. I cringe at the thought of some. Some of my dates have gone into the abyss of my memories, some were horrifying!

I have many single deaf friends who would love to find someone special but some of them have been overlooked because they are deaf. It made me think if the non-disabled have ideas of all the myths that prevents them from dating us, hence the blog on busting the myths!

I’ll promise I’ll be gentle with you! (Apologies for the rude content a bit further down…)

MYTH 1 

My date will be awkward if I don’t understand what he/she is saying or I’ll say something really stupid or offensive 

I’ve no idea what’s going on!

WOAH!

I have sat through many of my dates and can count on one hand when it has been awkward. Of course, there has been few moments where we’ve had misunderstandings but there was no awkwardness or embarrassment. This is due to several reasons, excessive background noise and unfamiliarity with my voice.

I’m imagining some of you shouting out “How?”

“How does she work her magic?”

 

Sorry guys, I’m not Hermione with a magic wand, but on the other hand I’ve been to a “Harry Potter” school. Since I discovered boys, I learnt through trial and error on putting them at ease. I prepare guys before the date so they know what they are expecting.

(Taps nose) That’s my secret!

FACT

Please don’t view deaf people very different from you. One in 6 people have hearing loss in the United Kingdom (approximately 11 million people with hearing loss at current date but is expected to rise to 14 million in 2031). Some of us rely on lipreading, use speech or rely on British Sign Language (BSL). Our disability is an invisible disability until our issues becomes visible during communication (not always the case for everyone). Being deaf is like dealing with a curve ball that life throws our way. We deal with it on a daily basis. Bear the facts in mind, you will realise how “normal” we are living with deafness and your dates are just like the others. The trick to this, is to relax and not to be embarrassed to ask us to repeat or write it down. You will get used to how we communicate once you familiarise yourself with us.

MYTH 2 

It will be a chore to date someone who is deaf because they are “damaged” people. You’ll have to communicate for them. 

FACT 

Many deaf people don’t see themselves as disabled or let their deafness get in their way. They don’t want to focus on their deafness. This bit rings very true for me, I’ve done lots of things in my life for instance, taking part in an orchestra, going to concerts, cinema, theatre, drive, taken part in Top Gear filming (I was in the audience).

Actually we all lead exciting, extraordinary, full but satisfying lives. Most of us have careers, a circle of friends and supportive families. I work as a biomedical scientist, have friends all over the country and abroad and have the most fantastic mother. We are all very well equipped at being independent. When we need communication support, we hire either an interpreter, lipspeaker or speech to text reporter. We have the capacity to think “outside the box”. We adapt.

MYTH 3 

My family and friends won’t accept us.

FACT 

I have been very fortunate with my previous relationships and have got on very well with other half parents and friends. For you, family and friends may pose the biggest obstacle but they may have not been exposed to anyone who is deaf before. This doesn’t mean that they would not be open to accepting your boyfriend/girlfriend who makes you very happy.

All you need is a little explanation and along with myth busting on your part. It is not the end of the world. Your family and friends may take a leaf from your book.

It could have been worse if I took a cult worshipper, tattooed laden and beefed up in loin cloth boyfriend to my mother….

MYTH 4 

If you date someone who‘s deaf, you won’t have a fulfilling sex life, if you have sex together. 

naughtyteddies1-001
Who says deaf people can’t have sex?


Well, well, we need to have that “TALK”

This is the most common myth, and I can assure you we do fornicate like you do!

We have our own brains and bodies but the only thing that doesn’t work is our ears. If you’re into whispering sweet nothings or trashy talk that makes your grandmother blush – what’s stopping you?! You’d have to say it to our faces or leave messages around the house (Please make sure that your parents aren’t in!) or via text.

Sadly you’ve been fed with images of rampant sex scenes, please forget that – it wrecks the image for everyone, disabled or not.

Here’s my recipe to sex

Brain :- Creative thinking, imagination (lots of it please!)

Mouth :- Communication – absolutely vital in relationships/sex. Without it, the magic wouldn’t happen.

Hands :- We are sensitive to touch and are used in sign language.

Eyes :- Window to our souls.

MYTH 5 

I don’t think we will be able to live a normal life and do fun things together 

Totally untrue!

All of us do extraordinary or mundane things, deaf or hearing. I’ve done lots of things as I mentioned earlier in Myth 2. Please don’t make assumptions that deaf people don’t do things. We all like and enjoy different things. Some people love sports, some love travelling but the important thing to remember the fact that we all are unique.

I can assure you that as a “romantic” partner would be fun but could also offer you the best experiences of your life, with ongoing discovery and adventure that is waiting for you.

All you need are :-

  • Creativity
  • Strategy
  • Communication (Adaptability)

So anything could happen and both parties can achieve/experience the world at its fullest together.

I know and accept that dating is very tough for anyone. If we exclude a certain group from our dating pool, we are limiting ourselves and reducing our chances of finding our “soulmate” or “special half”. Once you’ve understood fully the 5 myths, I can guarantee that your mind will be broadened to new types of dating experiences. You’ll never know who will be your true love and it would be lamentable to let deafness get in the way even though it isn’t an issue for the deaf person.

I am Indomitable

indomitableAlex

I’m being very nostalgic today, reminiscing with my career options and my own life. Did you know I’ve always wanted to work in the film and TV industry and to perform also.

Unfortunately at the time when I was a teenager, I was an emotional wreck, especially with family issues because my parents had split up and as well dealing with betrayal, I struggled to find something I could escape to but even with the bullying that almost finished me off. I’ve had teachers telling me that I shouldn’t work in the media and that I should be better off working in childcare. I had zero confidence in myself during this time.
From that moment, it felt like a switch has been flipped, I knew I had to learn to stand on my own two feet, and start believing in myself because I’m the only one who knows what my heart desires. It took a long journey to get where I am, by believing in myself and being happy for who I am.

Then my career changed direction after I did a week work experience for the BBC, then I realised I needed stability in a job so I changed to science which I have worked for the last 13 years as a scientist.

People walk in and out of my life, some good and bad, I’ve had my ups and downs health wise, not realising until 9 years of misdiagnosis that it was endometriosis. It slowly consumes my life, no matter how hard I try but I remain positive. I’ve had my moments of epiphanies, realisations, understanding which then led to acceptance.

In the last few years, I’ve come to realise more about personal things about myself, since I transformed into a woman, my tastes has changed over the years, like it has become honed and become more polished. I now know what kind of a gentleman I like, someone who appreciates that I am strong, loves good debate, rational, down to earth, sense of fun, someone who isn’t afraid of the ups and downs of life, intelligent and lastly a gentleman.

I notice it’s the national day of Poetry today, so thought I’d give this a go. This is quite personal to me.

I am Indomitable

I now accept that I am deaf,
I accept that I will not let anyone knock me down
I accept I have the power to overcome
Any obstacles, or challenges
I am indomitable

I accept my ability to communicate
Either in voice or in sign
I accept I am in between worlds
Hearing and deaf
So you can hear my voice that
I am indomitable

I accept my dreams have changed over the years
But with my teenage dreams calling to me
Now I have the strength to ignore my enemies who try to deny my dream
I am indomitable.

I accept that I have endometriosis,
I accept the challenge to remain positive,
I accept my body.
My abdomen slowly fills with scars, stretch marks, blotches
This reminds me this is my road map of my journey and that
I am indomitable.

I accept my wish to find someone special
To love and share the memories
My body and soul has its story to tell so that he can see and love the fact that
I am indomitable.

An open letter to the Film Industry

spidermangwen

 

Dear Film industry, directors, actors, production companies, cinema exhibitors and the public.

I’m writing a letter to all the people who work in the film industry either direct or indirect involvement, because this is my frustrations that I need to express irrefutably and bluntly.

 

I would like to tell you a little story about myself.

I was born in 1981 with my parents having such high hopes for my future until it all changed when I was 6 months old. I contracted Meningitis and came very close to death. It wasn’t until I was 13 months old, my parents’ world further fell apart because of the diagnosis they received.

 

I was diagnosed profoundly deaf.

 

Definition

Profoundly – complete, utter, total, absolute

Deaf – hard of hearing, hearing impaired, deaf as a post 

 

My parents’ hearts broke because they weren’t given any guidance about deafness but lots of misconceptions. My mother used to label everything around the house, teaching me to phrase words by imitation. It took endless temper tantrums and tears to get through. My mother had to make the hardest choices on how I should communicate, either learn to sign using British Sign Language (BSL) or learn to speak and lipread. She chose the latter, ensuring I learn speech and read. Mum faced obstacles and challenges from the education authority and ignorant attitudes from the public when strangers approached me and complimenting how cute I looked then mum would tell them that I am deaf. I remember their faces suddenly changing, out of pity or horror. My mum was in it for the long haul, making sure I had everything, such as filling my life with enriching experiences, extending vocabulary, pushed me far and built me up to be a better person.

In 1991, my parents nearly lost me 3 times in one year because of the meningitis. I was saved by a life-saving operation to ensure that I would never get Meningitis again because I had a hole in my left ear, several ear bones was removed as they were very badly infected. Over the years, I discovered my hearing aids were becoming useless, couldn’t hear anything at all.

I’ve worked hard throughout my life, overcoming barriers, changing people’s perception towards deaf people by being patient, and repeating things over and over again.

I’ve faced oppression, discrimination, ignorance and misconceptions from the public, businesses, relatives and often friends. I find people often lack patience when they meet a deaf person. (I say this as a general term, because deafness is very multifaceted, you’ll find there may be deaf people people who rely on speech and listening, lipreading OR use sign. Bear in mind, there are varying levels of deafness use their preferred communication tactics). I have always made sure I explain things with grace, patience and adaptability according to a situation.

I didn’t get my cochlear implant until I was 19, it has opened my world but it will never give me the opportunity to understand speech. It sounds like a white noise to me, simply because I didn’t have the opportunity to develop auditory memory as I was deaf very young.

Coming to the main point of the letter, I am a massive film fan and I’ve always loved films since I saw my first film at the cinema when I was 8 and it was Ghostbusters 2. Sadly it wasn’t subtitled. I focused on the body language and the action to get the gist of the story. Over the years I was becoming more reliant on understanding the spoken language, but with the lack of subtitles, I had to rely on my hearing family or friends to interpret on what the characters were saying. Television already had subtitles around 1989 and was able to follow everything without relying on anyone. I felt it was a blessing!  BUT with the lack of subtitles at the cinema, I don’t get the opportunity to go to cinema on my own because I need to understand the spoken word to be able to follow the story. I remember my first trip to a subtitled cinema around 2007-08 and it was a Harry Potter film. With subtitles, it is my own form of escape, but without it I can’t escape.

We are now in the 21st Century, technologies have evolved/developed/progressed so much.

Unfortunately the cinema exhibitors, nowadays have it all completely wrong!

  • Often show films 2/3 weeks after release at certain cinemas
  • Showing films at unreasonable times i.e during the day because most people are in work or in education. (I say most because NOT all deaf people are out of work!) 
  • No liaison with the deaf customers, there is 1 in 6 who have hearing loss, approximately 11 million and it’s set to rise to 14 million in 2031. You are missing out a market, customer base.
  • Not offering us choice, to go to see a film of our choice WHENEVER AND WHEREVER. Because of that, we are at your mercy on your decisions to show a film that we may not have a chance to see.
  • Because of the factors above, it leaves us waiting for a DVD, that takes another 3/4 months of waiting with a possibility it might or not have subtitles.
  • I know this for a fact, there are some deaf people who are resorting to torrents (illegal downloading) because we know that there are kind-hearted individuals who will do subtitles for free (A big thank-you to some of you!). This is because we still face obstacles or lack of access for them to resort to this. As a consequence, you have lost your profits, simply because you have not asked us what works best for us.

To conclude this, I don’t think the hearing population actually realise how lucky they really are for being able to make snap decisions, go whenever or wherever they want. I’ve experienced in the cinemas where they’ve used excessive noise and it’s painful! It is one of these things that contributes to deafness, I see people using earphones and blasting their ears out, it means they take their hearing for granted. I would LOVE to be in your shoes, I would love to have your freedom to choose and make a snap decision without subtitles but we can’t, or should I say, I can’t! We have to plan our time in advance at your mercy. If you have someone who is suffering from hearing loss, let it be your child, relative, friend or colleague, please think about how they wish to be you…. All I can say you are very lucky not to have the obstacles that other deaf people and I have experienced in this lifetime.

 

Please share this and make sure the people in the film industry reads this, and they need to encourage the cinemas to show more and offer more choices so deaf people don’t get left behind.

 

bourne_subtitles

A fresh start and new look

I know I should feel really bad for neglecting my own blog site as sadly my life has taken over so I’m back to try and make more of an effort!

I’ve decided on sprucing up my blog layout so I think it looks SO much better – more…. myself.

I’ve written a blog, it’s more of an open letter to the film industry because I am still frustrated that I can’t enjoy the same things without having to plan or hope that a particular cinema would show at convenient time.

My Ultimate Christmas Wish

 

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Dear Santa,

The last time I wrote to you when I was a little girl, asking you very nicely for a nice pink bicycle that I did eventually receive on Christmas Day. This bicycle gave me lots of memories, whizzing around Barmby on the Marsh village, embracing my freedom as a deaf girl. 

I’m now 32 years old, things have changed throughout my lifetime, having been through the good, bad and sad moments. These events has shaped to who I am now and I am proud of what I have achieved despite my profound deafness and overcoming the obstacles. I overcame the prejudices, communication difficulties and lack of awareness to become a biomedical scientist. I still have the fire burning bright deep in my gut, dreaming for the impossible considering this word “Can’t” isn’t part of my vocabulary. I thrive on challenges, proving people who have doubted my efforts wrong. That’s who I am.   

However one day, someone asked me what’s my ultimate wish hence I’m writing this in a letter to Santa (Mind you, there’s a little kid in us!).

All I wish for this Christmas and for life, is better access for the deaf and hard of hearing population, in terms of communication and access to various services.

I wish I would function as a normal hearing person, with all adaptations in place, better understanding how to communicate with a deaf person and lastly making my life easier and be part of the “society”. I find that hearing population take their hearing for granted, they pick up their phones without any hesitation, have conversations with ease for example someone talking behind them. All these little things adds up.

Of all these things that I would love to do and see…..

  1. Be able to go to a cinema whenever and wherever I want to go, with subtitles readily available.
  2. Be able to go to a theatre whenever and wherever I want to go, with captions readily available. All I want to be included, so why can’t I have this readily available. This will save me elbowing my poor mother in the rib and asking her what is being said, disrupting others by talking about what is actually being said and lastly not having to turn people down if I wanted to go a theatre or cinema.
  3. To travel more freely using trains, cars and planes knowing we get immediate (real time) notifications via mobile, announcements board or any other form of technology that enables to keep up with announcements for example, delays, accidents, cancellations.
  4. Go to museums, stately homes or tours where people give their talks using subtitled videos via tablets or STTR or interpreters– readily available at all times.
  5. High quality of subtitles on television and internet (BBC IPlayer, Five Demand etc.)
  6. More online streaming websites with subtitles – Netflix does them but it is not at 100% and LoveFilm does not have them despite the petition by Stephanie McDermid to start including subtitles in all films and TV. Shaun Sadlier has started up his own Films14 to start the trend of subtitled films and TV and plus including audio description. I believe this will give us more choice to choose from.
  7. Better access in public services, such as GPs, hospitals, courts, Job centres – starting with deaf awareness to get them to ask us what we need instead of making assumptions. I want to them to recognise my communication needs.  
  8. Compulsory deaf/deafblind awareness courses to be offered in the retail sector including banking, mobile companies, insurance, so on, so they are fully aware of how we use the internet, use text relay and use SMS. I want to have the choice of contacting a company via online, SMS or text relay. It does annoy me when they use Data Protection as an excuse for not serving us, as I do appreciate that they are protecting our information but what about US as a deaf individuals, how will we communicate with you to resolve an issue if you won’t allow other people to help to deal for our behalf. Wake up and smell the coffee!
  9. Remove ATOS from all disability benefits assessments, they serve NO purpose as they are not qualified to assess disability, it has been proven they have asked irrelevant questions as seen in this blog. Most of us need help with communication, equipment and freedom to live independently.
  10. Introduce mobile and phone/Broadband tariffs that is deaf friendly, so that we can pay for the services that we actually use. I wish for more transparency on using text relay with other telephone providers, so that we HAVE the choice to move around telephone providers to get a cheaper telephone bill.
  11. To have a Communications Bill in place so it is a law to protect the young, the elderly and all ages so that our basic right to communicate is recognised, let it be lip-reading, British Sign Language (BSL), Sign Supported English (SSE), cued speech so on. We are all individuals with so much to offer to the society.
  12. Take the advantage of new upcoming technology, embrace the new changes because we are humans constantly evolving through time. There are lots of things that could benefit us, take it! If we find something that might work for us, use it!
  13. To see more deaf role models in the media, sport, society and lastly in politics, we ALL have so much to offer but treating us like a second class citizens is not the way to go. Celebrate our uniqueness.
  14. See more and better support for parents and newly deaf so that they are not suffering on their own.
  15. At the moment, I meet hearing people more than halfway, giving all my effort to be understood but it is quite rare to find people to meet me at halfway. 

 

That is my ultimate wish, Santa. Simple as that. I’m aware it won’t happen in all one Christmas but it will be a miracle if it did!

If you do come down my chimney, I will leave you a sherry, a mince pie and lastly a carrot for Rudolph.

With lots of love

Alexandra

 

 

 

That Deaf Guy (created by Matt Daigle)

2012-07-19

I know it’s been a while since I last posted my blog.

I’ll start off with something really light but very true for us deaf people. That Deaf Guy comics highlights the disadvantages and advantages of being deaf in every day life. I have found them really amusing! Mind you, you will learn the do’s and don’ts of communicating with a deaf person.

This comic proves we, the deaf, have a great sense of humour and are adaptable in situations like in the comics.

http://www.thatdeafguy.com/

Enjoy them!

Are there any deaf people in the Olympics? That’s the question.

London Olympic Stadium

I was thinking in the other day, about the Olympics and realised we haven’t any deaf role models who may be taking part or have taken part in the Olympics. I don’t mean in the Deaflympics. I was really struggling to think of anyone.

So here’s me on the internet, trying to find the iconic deaf Olympians and have only found two. Yes, two or maybe three. There was a swimmer from South Africa, Terence Parkin, who came second in breaststroke at Sydney in 2000. I remember that BBC wouldn’t or couldn’t talk to him so they ended up speaking to the person who came third! Tut tut!! I thought BBC was supposed to be an equal opportunities.

I have discovered there is one (so far) deaf olympian competing, his name is Chris Colwill, 3 metres springboard diver. We could have had Marcus Titus – American 100 & 200 metres breastroke swimmer but it seems he missed out on the qualifying for the Olympics.  If you can know of anyone who’s taking part, please let me know so that I can update this blog.

Deaf people do have their own deaflympics or Olympics for the deaf. This was established in 1924 by The International Committee of Sports for the Deaf. This was implemented due to the special communication needs on the sports field. From what I know, they don’t have high number of participants (estimated 4k compared to 11k London 2012) due to the lack of facilities made available to them for instance sign-language proficient sports coach, equipment and etc. Most of them would struggle or cannot hear the guns, whistles or the shouting. They would be unable to hear the feedback to learn from the activity so it takes deaf people lot longer to achieve the high standard of fitness as a normal hearing athlete.

I can understand the need of having a separate Olympics solely for the deaf people, and I know I may be stepping on several people’s feet with my opinion. I cannot understand why they are distancing themselves from the main Olympics even they are opportunities to be either included in the Paralympics (unless if you’re deaf plus other disability) or the Olympics. I realise they have lost funding (that’s including the government funding) to fund for the summer Olympics in Athens in Greece, and the winter Olympics in Slovenkia (2011) and Vancouver (2015). There’s a summer Deaflympics at Ankara, Turkey in 2016. My point is are they doing the right thing by distancing themselves, even though they have had a very good feedback in Taipei in 2009 and was shown via various media i.e. television/online. They have had problems with getting funding to send athletes to Taipei. Would it be better to be incorporated with the main Olympics – that means a great chance to raising awareness, more funding and so on.

I was unsure about on whether to integrate deaf people in the Paralympics but we’re not physically disabled and we’re deaf! We’re perfectly capable of running, swimming and etc, without any help and it’s just we need to be told to “GO!” when the gun/whistle goes off. If I was a competitor, I’d personally choose the Olympics because I would feel that deaflympics is a tad too limiting and I want to have the fantastic opportunity to compete against the best in the world. I’d love to have the chance to compete against Victoria Pendleton in cycling or Rebecca Adlington in swimming. Can you imagine competing against the Olympic greats, like Bradley Wiggins, Mo Farah, Chris Hoy etc… I could carry on saying all the names but you catch my drift.

Attitudes, technology and understanding have changed so much since 1924, we have flashing lights to indicate the start (Swimming), hand signals (It was in the media regarding Marcus Titus – the swimmer, when IOC finally gave in that hand signals was helpful for the deaf people.) I think the more deaf athletes are included in the olympics, this may will raise greater understanding and awareness. I can’t help but to think of this Michael Caine infamous quote from the Italian Job – “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!” as a metaphor.

To sum it all up, to be an athlete partaking in the Olympics, you have to be really determined and bloody single-minded, even though educating the people regarding communication. I say, why limit yourself, when you’ve got the belief of winning and becoming the best against the world. Don’t marginalise yourself.

Just imagine standing on a 1st podium with Sir Chris Hoy next to you. What’s stopping you, your deafness or your destiny?
Look forward to your opinions on this.

My Dad

Dad and Me

Sometimes I get tapped on the shoulder from the past, this doesn’t mean I get to relive all of this. All the experiences I’ve had makes me a lot more tenacious and determined not to repeat the same mistakes my dad made. Writing this will be a cathartic experience for me.

My dad wasn’t a good dad. He liked his drink, he liked his cigarettes and was a chain-smoker. He was a selfish and deceitful man who has cost us of our home and our lives.

I know this sounds rather harsh or bitter but this is who he was. Dad was a flawed character due to events in his life that shaped him. Dad lost his 18 year old son who he idolised from leukaemia when I was three years old. The experience of loss pushed him over the edge, became more reliant on alcohol. I have had several bad experiences of Dad being drunk and he was unpredictable.

Dad has written off three cars through drink-driving, he was banned twice until the last time he wrote his car off, got himself banned for three years and gave up driving. What beggars belief that my dad has not managed to injure or take a life.

There was one time that still shakes me to the core. Dad was a waterskiing judge and used to judge lots of  waterskiing competitions in the past. He was judging one in Lincoln and I was with him. I was about 8/9 years old at the time. One evening, we were having the Judges dinner and dad got inebriated. He insisted on driving back to the hotel which were about 5 or 6 miles away. I was truly terrified of going into the car with him – I refused point blank then he got very incensed. The whole fracas was overheard by everybody until a lady came forward and told that I’m staying with her for the night with her family in a caravan. It was a sheer relief that I was not going back with Dad.  The following morning, dad never apologised for the night before.

There was a time when I truly needed him the  most; when I was 10 in 1991, critically ill with the final bout of meningitis. Earlier that year, I already had been in hospital twice with meningitis. It was in November time, my mother went down to Devon to stay with friends prior to going to Michael Bolton concert in Birmingham in the following night. I was boarding at St Johns School for the Deaf in Boston Spa. Earlier in the evening of November 5th 1991, the kids and I went to the bonfire night in Wetherby. I wasn’t feeling so well for the past few days, coming down with virus plus the earache from hell. I remember being very disorientated like a room spinning around you and was struggling to keep upright. As soon we got back to our dorms, I only remember snippets of what has happened on that night. I was rushed to the hospital, to the same ward where I had been twice earlier the year.

I was told that my school had been struggling to get hold of my dad (he was very deaf) and subsequently they had to call the police. They came and hammered on the door but couldn’t get any response. They left a note through the letterbox , dad didn’t see it until the next morning. He rang my mum straightway to deliver the news. Dad didn’t turn up till 9.30 in the morning, hung around for five minutes then left. That was the time when I needed him the most.

I have to admit that my father’s infidelity made me implode from the inside when I was 13. We had moved house literally days before going to Australia to see my sister get married, then came back and three days later, dad left.
From thereon, everything went wrong, my mother lost everything due to my dad’s deceitfulness. We had to move down to Devon to live with friends on a farm in the middle of nowhere. It was an escape from the world and it was the place we felt the most happiest, but it wasn’t to be. Dad completely washed his hands of us financially, mum couldn’t really work because I had several health problems and was dependent on her. Dad was very happy with his new partner.

Looking back on all these events, it has been a rollercoaster ride and also life-defining. I now realise after all these years, my mother has been my mum AND dad. I see my friends being very close to their fathers, I do get pangs of envy but I get over it quickly because I know there are others who are worst off than me but at least I do know who my father is. I have a ‘surrogate’ father who means an awful lot to me and you know who you are. You have made me who I am, shaped me to be an unique and indomitable individual and you have done a lot for me. I thank you and appreciate it very much with the bottom of my heart.

Last year, I managed to reconcile with dad, I am glad he had the opportunity to attend my 30th birthday and most importantly of all my university graduation. He was very proud seeing me wearing a cap and gown on my graduation day.

He was diagnosed with lung cancer on the 17th October last year and passed away on the 4th of December 2011.

Now I will get on with my life, live it with no regrets, seize every bloody opportunity with both hands and most important of all, FATHERS ARE IMPORTANT.

 

UPDATE: Now two years have passed, as 4th of December is coming up, the anniversary of Dad’s death. It has changed me, I’ve learnt to stop worrying about trivial things, deal with things as they come. I’ve finally found my voice with Pardon – http://pardongroup.org.uk/ and on Facebook, fighting for better access for deaf people.

As I read back my blog about Dad, I’d have to admit it was a really heavy going, slightly harsh but it made me think on the importance of having a Dad in your life. I’ve made a promise to myself not to deprive my future generations of a father, as I’m currently single and am very picky on the type of a man I want in my life. I want “him” to be family oriented and be my best friend that I feel totally comfortable to bare my soul with.

I think right now, my dad will be looking down, absolutely proud of what I have achieved over the last two years.

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