The video at the top of this page is an interesting time capsule. It’s Eric Sykes, talking to Jack Ashley on See Hear about his special glasses, which are in fact hearing aids. They use bone conduction technology to transmit sound into his inner ear.
A year from now, Google will be selling a pair of glasses that transmit sound to the wearer through bone conduction. However, unlike the specs that Eric Sykes wore, Google Glass has the potential to change deaf people’s lives forever. Read more…
The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning. Then the soul-erosion produced by high gambling – a compost of greed and fear and nervous tension – becomes unbearable and the senses awake and revolt from it. Ian Fleming, Casino Royale
Since going bionic, I’ve started reading books again in a big way. Read more…
This is one of the most difficult updates I’ve ever had to write. I’ve written and rewritten this, and there’s no easy way of putting it so I’m just going to say it.
When my implant was switched on last December, it was the end of a lifelong relationship.
For the last four months, I’ve been living without my long term companion.
It’s been difficult, but a lot of people agreed it was for the best that we underwent a trial separation. Read more…
The other day I started going through my address book in some sort of attempt to be grown up and organised. I was shocked to find that of the 3,500 people in my contacts list, quite a few of them had passed away in the last few years. There was my Grandma’s mobile number, who I used to text every now and then to keep her up to date.
Then there was my Uncle Ging, who passed away a few years ago in South Africa. It was strange to see his email address in my contacts list. I almost reflexively sent him a message, to see if he would reply.
That’s him on the left. His actual name was Christopher, but my family always had an interesting attitude to naming conventions. He’s pictured here next to my other Uncle, known as Richard, for that is his name. Read more…
The above is an audiogram. Most deaf people have seen one of these before, but if you’re like me, you won’t have bothered to find out what they mean, other than ‘You are deaf. You are very, very, very deaf.’
From left to right, the audiogram is arranged like the keys on a piano, with low frequencies on the left and higher frequencies on the right.
From top to bottom is a measure of volume, in decibels.
Most people are born with perfect hearing. At the age of 18, your hearing is as good as it’s ever going to be. In fact, you’ll probably hear higher frequencies that people in their 30s and later in life can’t. As people age, they lose more and more hearing in the high frequency range.
Now, let’s look at the hearing that I was born with. My hearing has been more or less the same since I was born. I’m usually tested with a pair of headphones in a soundproofed room, using a cable with a button on the end which I press every time I hear a tone. Read more…
I’ve been switched on for a month now. It’s been a really steep learning curve, and after two tuning sessions I’m starting to feel like I’m getting close to the potential of the technology itself. I can hear all sorts of stuff now, that I won’t bore you with.
Hearing stuff is easy now.
Identifying it is much harder. Read more…
Sorry for the lack of updates recently – in the last month I’ve celebrated my birthday, Christmas and danced in an RAF Uniform on New Year’s Eve.
When fellow BBC employee Damon Rose asked me to join him in Broadcasting House for an interview for the Ouch! podcast, I couldn’t say no.
I also wrote a new piece for them about why I had the implant, and where I am with it now.
There will be a transcript of the radio interview on the page as well, I believe. That contains a rather unorthodox hearing test and some interesting chat about whether deaf children should have cochlear implants…
I hope you like it.
Kaspar Hauser was a mysterious teenage boy who appeared in the streets of Nuremberg in 1828, with limited vocabulary and understanding of the world. He claimed that he’d been imprisoned in a cellar most of his life with nothing but a wooden horse to play with. History has revealed he was probably a fantasist, but his mystery has never been solved.
I first learned of Hauser from watching Werner Herzog’s unsettling and affecting portrait of his short and troubled life starring an actor called Bruno S, who wasn’t the most ordinary person himself.
The first time I watched The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, I was completely creeped out by Bruno S’ portrayal of a full-grown adult with the mind of a child, learning the names of things for the first time, trying to use a knife and fork, and reacting in a completely childlike, unaffected way to his surroundings.
I feel like Kaspar Hauser. Read more…
So be warned: this article contains references to consumption of illegal drugs and their effects on the brain. It may also make much less sense than other stuff I’ve written in the past, for reasons which will hopefully become clear.
When I went into the audiologist’s office to be activated/switched on/turned on, I was expecting the unexpected. I knew it was going to be strange and uncanny. Even the audiologist told me that today would probably be the worst day of my life with a cochlear implant, and it would only get better from this point onwards. What happened next wasn’t really the worst thing ever, but it was deeply, deeply weird. Read more…