I loved speaking on the phone.
I used to finish my homework and then I would be on the phone to Alex, Michelle, Angie or Deidre! Mum used to get thoroughly irate with my long conversations to school friends.
“Gaynor, you have just spent eight hours at school. You come home and then…phone your school friends! I don’t understand you.”
“Mum, I was at school to work,” I would explain loftily, “we didn’t have time to chat. In any case, Mich is explaining the sexual reproduction of Chlamydomonas to me!” I would finish, knowing that would shut her up! My Mum would roll her eyes as she disappeared from the room.
“And then what did he say, Mich….”
Yes, I loved the phone!
In 1989 I had my fall and due to brain damage my hearing was lost to me. My love of the phone was a thing of the past. Which is not to say that I didn’t use it. One has to use a phone. It’s a necessary and essential part of life!
I was able to chat and fill Mum in on the ups and downs of my life in Durban. But Mum was not so fortunate. I couldn’t hear her. Therefore Mum’s conversation on the phone to me was very limited. It would consist of two sounds – Uh and Uh Uh. Uh would mean anything from “Brilliant!” or “I understand” or “Yes, I agree!” Whereas Uh Uh had the more negative toll to it. It would mean: “Definitely not!” “No, I disagree,” or “No, Gaynor, absolutely NO!”
I make light of it but in actual fact it was sheer hell for both of us. When Pandora, my yellow Cockatiel and close friend died, the first person I wanted to talk to was Mums. That phone call was hellish. Me weeping on the phone and my Mother wanting to console and comfort me using Uh and Uh Uh’s!
I opened in my one woman show My Plunge to Fame. Not only was I back on stage again but once more I was earning money. I performed all over South Africa and the money came pouring in. Oh, talk about a wonderful feeling of being ‘in da money!’ Then I had the most wonderful idea. I would go overseas and visiting Guy Clothier. He was that deaf man I told you about in ‘My Deaf Guy’ that lived on a yacht in the Caribbean. Admit, that had all the potential for romance, not so??? And while I was overseas why not pop in to Denmark and visit an old university boyfriend? With all the joie de vivre in the world, I went into a travel agency and using my newly earned gains I booked a ticket to visit friends of mine in San Diego, then I was to head on to the Caribbean and Guy, followed by a week in Denmark. Seeing I was overseas I could not resist quickly nipping across to London! Then finally it was home to South Africa! I gave a delighted smile. I felt like dusting my hands off and saying: “Yep, you’ve got a good trip planned!”
I was totally elated and euphoric with my plans but I knew that my folks would be of a different frame of mind! They would not be happy with my arrangements. Not happy at all! But I was determined to go. (The other side of determination is stubbornness, not so!) In this case, the telephone was on my side. I knew that I would be unable to hear Mum’s remonstrations! Three weeks before I was due to fly, I finally plucked up the courage to make that phone call.
“Hey there, Mums, I have really exciting news which I want to share with you and Dad.”
“Uh,” said Mum in a interested tone of voice.
“I am going to San Diego, the Caribbean, Denmark and London!”
“What?” said Mum. I heard her perfectly! She didn’t exactly sound overjoyed.
“I’ve paid for it and I leave in three weeks.”
“UH UH!”, said Mum, “UH UH! UH UH, Gaynor! UH UH!!!
“Now you are not to worry. You know all the people I will be staying with and I will be..”
“Gaynor, you are not ready to go traipsing overseas. Uh uh! Your walking’s unsteady. Uh uh!You can’t see properly…”
“Mum, I can’t hear what you’re saying. I gather you’re not too pleased with my plan. I’m sorry about that. I’m madly excited. I will speak to you soon. Love you!”
Needless to say, I did indeed set off on my wonderful overseas travels. Mum and Dad surprised me totally by arriving in Durban to help me pack and to wave me off at the airport. I was Passenger Assisted at Mum’s insistence! It was tremendously big of them and I loved them dearly for it.
Eight years ago I had my first Cochlear Implant and in May last year, I had my second. I am now “hearing” from both ears. The world suddenly seemed to open it’s doors. Light was able to shine in on all the previously darkened areas of my life. The telephone has been given back to me in all it’s wonderful glory. For the first time in eighteen years I was able to hear Mum on the phone!
Last month I had a radio interview with Edward Chamberlain-Bell via the telephone aired on Radio Today! He had said to me in an e-mail that I must send him about five questions that I would like to be asked. That was great, I thought, then I would know what he was saying. The thing that really bothered me is that on the phone I often tend to stutter. My brain seems to work quicker than my mouth is able to form the words. And…ah…ah…ah…ah…I end up sounding appalling! The thing is to s-l-o-w my rate of speaking down then the stuttering is vanquished!!!
I was nervous for this interview. I was very nervous. When the phone rang I picked it up apprehensively. But Edward is a charmer. And a flirt. Although I guess it takes two people to flirt, doesn’t it? Forget about him asking me the questions I had given him! Somehow we set off on a completely different route. But I heard him and I answered him slowly. I had a stutter-free telephonic radio interview!
I put down the phone and smiled to myself. The days of Uh and Uh Uh were certainly a thing of the past! The other day, I phoned an old school friend, Michelle.
“Hi there, Mich! It’s Gaynor. I am phoning you for old times sake. I am phoning you because I want to and because I can…..”