Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The shame of wearing hearing aids

Just read this BBC Blog site titled - The shame of wearing hearing aids

Im 54 and self taught myself to Lipread until it was discovered at the age of 10 i was severely hard of hearing.

A loud family and a quiet boy put in a class behind my year and then put at the back of the class so the noisy kids were up front near the teacher.
I started wearing hearing aids at age 10 and hated them with a vengeance, people treated me like I was a "simpleton" as my grandfather called it.

When behind the ear aids became available I was one of the first kids in the country to get them and the NHS supplied an amplivox aid. It was years later before I was allowed to have two. At last I had aids that were cool and I zoomed up a year at school - allowed to sit at the front and scraped by with an O level or two.
Careers advisor's assured me that getting a supermarket job was ideal and to expect any more was just being silly.

I stopped wearing hearing aids for 30 years.

Sheer bloody determination and a laser like path into the technology of Film Television Theatre Lighting beaconed and I had a brilliant career in Theatre Cinema Advertising - running my own Laser Display company - and teaching Computer Graphics at Thames Valley University.
As co founder of The Terrence Higgins Trust I appeared on many interviews and always managed to convince myself that nobody could guess I was deaf. Or was it simply the fact that I am allergic to hearing aid pink. ?

My local audiologist listened to my story and suggested Clear Aids yep the body of the aid is transparent - the circuitry in gold is seen through the plastic - fantastic. Im the envy of every bluetooth mobile tech gadget freak in town - So ok im a 55 year old big kid with a new toy - but I have enjoyed wearing these aids over the past two years.
Now I looped the TV audio (My neighbours are so grateful) and im enjoying others company more than ever.

Im encouraged when I see Eastenders that have two young cast members wearing hearing aids and I wish we had more examples. Perhaps a hard of hearing detective that miss hears a conversation but gets the clue. If your deaf you will know what I mean ;)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Gordon Brown recognising the “appalling” way Alan Turing was treated for being gay.

Alan Turing may have turned the tide for the allies in WW2, and was without a doubt one of our great British heroes, he happened to be gay in a time when it was forbidden.

He faced ruin, imprisonment, ridicule and even castration for his sins. At last he gets the recognition he so richly deserves.

Read the statement - 10 Downing St.

2009 has been a year of deep reflection - a chance for Britain, as a nation, to commemorate the profound debts we owe to those who came before. A unique combination of anniversaries and events have stirred in us that sense of pride and gratitude which characterise the British experience. Earlier this year I stood with Presidents Sarkozy and Obama to honour the service and the sacrifice of the heroes who stormed the beaches of Normandy 65 years ago. And just last week, we marked the 70 years which have passed since the British government declared its willingness to take up arms against Fascism and declared the outbreak of World War Two. So I am both pleased and proud that, thanks to a coalition of computer scientists, historians and LGBT activists, we have this year a chance to mark and celebrate another contribution to Britain’s fight against the darkness of dictatorship; that of code-breaker Alan Turing.

Turing was a quite brilliant mathematician, most famous for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes. It is no exaggeration to say that, without his outstanding contribution, the history of World War Two could well have been very different. He truly was one of those individuals we can point to whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war. The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely. In 1952, he was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ - in effect, tried for being gay. His sentence - and he was faced with the miserable choice of this or prison - was chemical castration by a series of injections of female hormones. He took his own life just two years later.

Thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can’t put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him. Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted as he was convicted under homophobic laws were treated terribly. Over the years millions more lived in fear of conviction.

I am proud that those days are gone and that in the last 12 years this government has done so much to make life fairer and more equal for our LGBT community. This recognition of Alan’s status as one of Britain’s most famous victims of homophobia is another step towards equality and long overdue.

But even more than that, Alan deserves recognition for his contribution to humankind. For those of us born after 1945, into a Europe which is united, democratic and at peace, it is hard to imagine that our continent was once the theatre of mankind’s darkest hour. It is difficult to believe that in living memory, people could become so consumed by hate - by anti-Semitism, by homophobia, by xenophobia and other murderous prejudices - that the gas chambers and crematoria became a piece of the European landscape as surely as the galleries and universities and concert halls which had marked out the European civilisation for hundreds of years. It is thanks to men and women who were totally committed to fighting fascism, people like Alan Turing, that the horrors of the Holocaust and of total war are part of Europe’s history and not Europe’s present.

So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work I am very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better.

Gordon Brown


Tribute to Sylvester - By the time Sylvester died on December 16, 1988 of AIDS-related complications, he had firmly cemented his reputation as one of the most original and talented musicians to come out of the disco arena. While Sylvester represented to mainstream America the Black and gay cultural origins of disco music, his body of work included not only crucial contributions to the disco songbook, but also ballads that proved he was a versatile stylist who brought a realness and depth to all his material.