Hearing Aid Induction…

I have just acquired my first pair of hearing aids!

I had been warned that they might take some getting used to, as all circumambient noise would come in for magnification quite as much as the sounds I actually wanted to hear.  And that I would need to learn how to reprogram my brain to take account of this. What they didn’t tell me was that it would be like stuffing my ears with crumpled cellophane, so that every high-pitched microscopic movement in the vicinity would be amplified beyond belief.

Why is this?

Well, for these magical aids to be programmed to my individual hearing profile – and they cleverly were, on a little screen with adjustable graph lines bringing the curve of my new aids to parallel as closely as possible the outline curve of my own hearing – it was the higher frequencies that needed amplifying – and amplified they soon were!

The minute my new aids were in, and turned on, my lovely practitioner asked me what he sounded like.  Did I think he was shouting?  Well, no, it didn’t sound as if he was shouting, but it was as if his voice was coming from a box, in several dimensions, with more than one frequency at a time.  ‘Ah, that’s because you’re now aware of the higher frequencies that you have been missing all this while’, he reassured me, and passed me my cagoule.

This was the first real revelation – taking over and putting on my cagoule.  An ordinary, common or garden cagoule, made of proprietary polyurethane-coated nylon.  But suddenly it had taken on a life of its own.  It made a noise.  It made a noise just by existing, just by parts of itself moving against other parts of itself – and wearing it meant that each minute motion of the head or limbs set fabric sliding on fabric with a rasping rustling like rubbing sheets of tinfoil against the wire cage of a high fidelity microphone.

I left his surgery and walked down the corridor.  Revelation number two: with every step I took, as the jeans of one inner thigh chafed against its partner, this hitherto silent caress registered in my brain as the raucous scraping it must have secretly been all this while.  Outside the hospital, traffic noise sounded pretty much as usual, really – after all, the lower frequencies hadn’t needed much remedial attention – but on reaching my car, feeling in my pocket for the key (rustle scrapy rustle), and inserting it in the lock (high-pitched squeech) each strident scratch reminded me that life would be different from now on.  And once driving along, below the familiar engine noise and the mechanical sounds I had grown used to, were strange new rattles and creaks just outside the window.  Were they outside, or inside?  Were they in the structure of the window itself?  Was the car falling apart?

Once back in the relative silence of my home, I discovered that simply ‘breathing in’ could now be registered on the Richter scale, as I told my daughter in a mixture of excitement and consternation. “Don’t do it, then,” was her helpful response.

And then I found that casually brushing my hand past my hair – not even touching the little curvy coffee-coloured monsters behind my ears themselves, but just the hair above them – yes, the merest trace of fingertip to follicle – was transmitted to the brain as acid susurration.

Acid, yes – that reminds me.  The acid test.  One of the main reasons for signing up for these things in the first place was to enable me to operate more easily in group situations – at dinner parties, in lectures, at my tango class…  How would everything seem in my tango class?

Well, I went to the first post-aids class two days later – and yes, perhaps I could hear the instructions more clearly, but as latecomers scrabbled with their coats and bags, stashing away their sandwiches, fishing for their shoes, each whisper dominated the soundscape of my head, and well-nigh drowned out the voice of the teacher.

No point in getting angry with them, I told myself; they don’t know the effect they’re having on my battered ear-drums.  I’ll just have to get used to it…


The State, by Peter Kosminsky – Channel 4 TV, August 20th – 24th.

What an astounding production!  I didn’t expect to like this series about British recruits drawn to join IS in Syria, and I nearly didn’t watch it at all.  Perhaps I thought it would be heavily propagandist, presenting the young Muslims as hate-filled fanatics, and foment yet more prejudice against Muslims in general, regardless of the fact that those who choose to go and fight (or stay and commit acts of terror) are an extremely small minority.  Or that in contrast, it might serve to entice more young believers to leave their families and sacrifice their lives for a bitter cause. Continue reading

Missing Relatives

          “That looks like the couple…. 

                      …that live next door to you.”

As a teacher of English as a Foreign Language I designed scores of activities to enliven lessons with group interaction.  With a special interest integrating intonation into general language focus, I often incorporated graphic representation of the appropriate intonation patterns, as you will see when opening the link to this card game, which practises ‘defining’ relative clauses, using the pronoun ‘that’.  Teachers’ notes are included.

Missing Relatives

Eventually I intend to publish a collection of resources on various aspects of language teaching, of which this is a sample.

Lexical Tag Dominoes

      A:  “Lovely day, isn’t it!”    B:  “Isn’t it gorgeous!”

As a teacher of English as a Foreign Language I designed scores of activities to enliven lessons with group interaction.  With a special interest integrating intonation into general language focus, I often incorporated graphic representation of the appropriate intonation patterns, as you will see when opening the link to this card game, which practises typical interactions of spoken discourse starting with question tags.  Teachers’ notes are included.

Discourse Dominoes – tags

Eventually I intend to publish a collection of resources on various aspects of language teaching, of which this is a sample.



Libya Inter Alia…

Recent events led me to remember this poem, written in April 1986. 

While Wikipedia notes the event as occurring on Tuesday April 15,
I remember it as a Monday, and this is confirmed by a note in
‘On this Day’, BBC Home:

“Around 66 American jets, some of them flying from British bases
launched an attack at around 0100hrs on Monday.” 

The commons argued late last night;
They wrestled with their consciences
On something of immense concern
– While Reagan raided Libya…

And Thatcher gave the go-ahead;
“Oh, use your bases, take your planes
– We only keep them warm for you –
Why ask the people what they think?
Why ask the British Government?
– I am the British Government!
Besides, they’re sitting up all night
Discussing Sunday Trading…” Continue reading

Wordsworth’s White Wife – Review 1

Review by Frank Birbal Singh, Emeritus Professor of Post-Colonial Literature at York University, Toronto, Canada.

“Rosie’s documentary zeal in meticulously cataloguing social, cultural, and political aspects of her experience in Guyana, with a sense of wide-eyed wonder, in spite of frustration and grief, is nothing less than exemplary in Wordsworth’s White Wife. ” Continue reading

Wordsworth’s White Wife – Review 2

Cultures on the Cusp in 1970s Guyana – a review by Chris Cormack
in the Hastings Online Times   (http://hastingsonlinetimes.co.uk/arts-culture/literature/wordsworth-mcandrew)

A newly published book by author and Hastings resident, Rosie McAndrew, gives important insights into the nature of inter-racial relationships and an historically key period in the development of multi-culturalism, namely the 1960s/70s when old cultural props were de-stabilised and emerging nations were to develop a new cultural pride and identity,  writes Chris Cormack.

Rosie McAndrew’s memoir Wordsworth’s White Wife works on a number of planes; as a simple memoir of an extraordinary relationship with the odds set against it; as a historic memoir of two nations on the cusp, sixties’ Britain self-questioning of long held hierarchical and ethical codes of society and Guyana (formerly British Guiana) seeking its own new cultural identity after recent independence from Britain in a cultural ‘melting pot’ that reflected multi-racial Guyana. Given Rosie’s philological background (French and Spanish), it is also a fascinating exploration of linguistic melding and development, as creole language and culture is brought to prominence by a remarkable man for the cultural recognition that it undoubtedly deserves. Through the linguistic devices the reader is able to glean important insights into life and culture in 1970s Guyana. Continue reading

Wordsworth’s White Wife – Review 3

Review in the Hastings Independent by Christine Sanderson

When Wordsworth McAndrew died in 2008, he was hailed in his home country of Guyana as a ‘National Treasure’ and the voice of Guyanese folklore. But to Rosie McAndrew, who lives locally near to Ore village, he was her ex-husband and an influence that changed her life completely.

‘Mac’, as Rosie usually called him, was ten years older than her and already well-known in 1968 when the two first met. Both were attending courses at the BBC in London, his in connection with his job in broadcasting and hers to prepare her for Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) – in the same town, Georgetown, Guyana, working for Broadcasts for Schools (BS) her first real job as a young graduate. There was an instant attraction well before either knew much about the other. Continue reading

Darcus Howe & Tariq Ali re.Partition, Channel 4, 1987

August 20th, 1987

Tariq Ali & Darcus Howe,
Executive producers of ‘Partition’,
Channel Four TV

I am writing to congratulate you on the excellence of ‘Partition’; it was beautifully scripted, filmed, acted and directed – one of the most sensitively handled productions I have seen for a long time.

The composition of individual shots, whole scenes, and the relationship between them was extremely imaginative and thought-provoking; the pacing was courageously unhurried, and the cumulative image of the cruelty of partition was powerfully but unostentatiously portrayed.  Brilliant!

So please pass on my congratulations to the director and everyone else concerned with the production; when is your next one, and when can this be repeated?

Thank you again, and very best wishes for future productions.