Tag Archives: Family

Sunday 3rd May 2015- Music and other languages


My day started with a grocery shop. Sadly, my usual fish fingers are no longer in stock. A shiny new budget-friendly box is filling my freezer drawer with anticipation. Something I’m really looking forward to is a visit from the awesome French branch of my family tree. So today I watched an episode of Chuck in French with French subtitles.

Despite the fact that listening is a weak area for me because of my Auditory Processing difficulties, I enjoy learning different languages. My favourite language is music. Music is a universal language because whoever’s listening- no matter what their spoken language is- can enjoy and empathise with the mood the music sets. Kind of like that TV show, The Clangers. Many people from different cultures claimed that the Clangers were actually speaking their language (or so I have heard). The Clangers speak Clanger. But like music, Clanger has a similarity to human speech. The adorable moon-dwelling mouse-creatures don’t use identifiable words, but somehow their language of squeaks and whistles still makes a lot of sense to their human watchers.

Although for my first 16 years or so, I couldn’t hear speech as clearly as most people because of serious Auditory Processing Disorder, I have always loved music. It’s a language which I understand. Although my social skills lagged behind since spoken nuances and hints were lost in a sea of gibberish and background noise, I could pick up a tune by ear really quickly. On my flute I learned to play music with an emotional maturity which socially I completely lacked. The way I played and the way I spoke completely didn’t match up. Then after Johansen IAS therapy my hearing cleared up enough to hear song lyrics, and I discovered an amazing combination of languages- music with words! After that my life was changed forever.

I’ve read somewhere that children who listen to music or learn an instrument can improve learning skills and strengthen listening ability. My parents played lots of music in our house when I was young whether it was Gypsy Kings (my mum) or Nirvana (my dad). Listening to music from an early age even just in the background probably gave me an edge against my Auditory Processing Disorder which I wouldn’t otherwise have had.

I think that a lot of kids who struggle in some way with communication, in whatever form and for whatever reason, would really benefit from learning to play an instrument. It’s a way to express your feelings without using conventional spoken language. Like a fingerprint, music is unique to the individual it comes from. Personalities shine through, and listeners who make strong first impressions of people on face value ( *The Fish Finger Conundrum again!* ) may be surprised by what they hear.

*The Fish Finger Conundrum- Monday 20th October 2014*


Due to unfortunate exam-related circumstances and the fact that any vaguely maths-related homework is not my friend, blog entries have recently been few and far between. Hopefully in a few weeks I’ll have the time to post a backlog of stuff. I hope you enjoyed this post.  =)



Sunday 14th September- Day 7 of Student Life -A Happy Nearly Birthday!

To celebrate my nearly-birthday while I was still in Glasgow, I had lunch at a pub with a friend. He gave me a rubber duck and some lovely shower gel things for my flat.

Loads of spag bol for a birthday dinner at home with my family. And a cake with a sparkler on top. I have a wonderful family. I love them all.

My presents were things for my room- a radiator drying rack, impressively sharp kitchen knives, a houseplant, some vouchers, and the dinner leftovers frozen and bagged for freezing. There’s enough spag bol and cake there to last about two weeks!

Being at home was good, but also confusing. Because I now feel like I have another home back in Edinburgh, half my brain was back there, doing tasks and chores and still settling in. I have had such a busy week! By some Freshers’ standards I had a quiet, hermetic introduction to my new city, but I don’t think I have ever been out so much in one week!

Trip to the Isle of Lewis! Wednesday 25th – Monday 30th July 2014

For five days, I stayed on the Isle of Lewis with my aunt and uncle. Every summer for the last 4 years I’ve visited. It was so great to see them! It’s a long day of travel, requiring two buses and a ferry, but with beautiful views from the window and an iPod, it can pass quite quickly. On the Isle of Lewis, my aunt and uncle met me at the pier and took me out for a late dinner. On the drive to their house, there was a blazing sunset. Lewis sunsets over the hills and sea lochs are spectacular.

The Isle of Lewis is an amazing landscape, very different to most of Scotland. “Barren” isn’t the right word to describe the open, rocky land, because that implies it isn’t also beautiful. There are not many trees or patches of shrubs. Instead there seems to be rolling hills and marbled grey outcrops of some of the most ancient rock in the world. In some places, lines in the stone suggest that millenniums ago, during their formation, these huge grey rocks were folded over in the middle and twisted like kneaded dough. The sea is also unusual and beautifully coloured. Despite the colder climate, there are white-sand beaches with turquoise sea.

For five days I spent time with my uncle and aunt, helping out on the croft and exploring the seaside rocks just over the hill from their house. It’s very peaceful there down by the sea, sitting in the sun, watching the tide on the rocks. Once of my favourite places is a long stretch of pebble beach, covered in large smooth chunks of the grey-marbled stone. With only many shades of grey next to the blue sea, the whole beach seems to radiate white from the rock’s palest highlights. During my visit I had wonderful sense of peace, along with a lack of desire to listen to heavy music.

I also made myself useful, helping with some shearing. Some sheep were more willing than others. The first pair of little white sheep were reluctant, but not much trouble. The next couple, a temperamental mother and one-year old lamb, fought against their new haircut every inch of the way. They were really not happy about it. We clipped the highly-strung mother sheep’s wool first, and she made a huge fuss, scaring her lamb. She struggled, tried to bite, and at one point, sent my aunt rolling down a slope with her. After her haircut was done, Lamby, at bleated cues from his mum, jerked and fought and tried to butt us with his horns. It was tricky for my aunt not to cut him while shearing, but after a long time patiently clipping away, both sheep were let out the pen completely unharmed, just disgruntled and , without their winter fleece, looking much smaller than before.

One night we had a cinema night, watching a film on a big projector screen, and my uncle showed me how to stack peat.

After a short hold-up before a drive to the ferry because a sheep tried to eat a peg from the washing line, I was on my way home. It was an amazing ferry journey. Not only were there dolphins to see, the coastguard were on a helicopter exercise during my journey. The helicopter hovered over the ferry. I watched from the top deck as a man in a helmet and orange jumpsuit was winched on and off the ferry over the rails.

Saturday 26th October- The Wedding

It’s a nice coincidence that I can start my blog with a wedding.

Yesterday my cousin got married, so we travelled to Aberdeen for a day and night. It was the first wedding I’ve been to, and I was equal parts excited and nervous. Excited about the actual wedding and very nervous about the reception, which was going to be full of loud noise and people to talk to. I’ve still got anxieties about how I’ll cope after my life before Johansen IAS therapy, when I could only hear Gibberish in this kind of environment.

The service was short and sweet, in a little church across from the hotel filled with my family. The bride was beautiful in a white dress and my cousin looked great in a kilt. They signed the marriage documents while their friend played on the piano “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, or Metta-leeka, as the slightly bemused reverend pronounced it.

I smiled so much I thought my face might split open. Everyone was happy and there’s no one I’d rather have as a new cousin.

The after-party was pretty great too. It was in a huge tent. Well not really a tent. Saying that it was a tent is like calling a Ferrari a skateboard because they both have four wheels.  This Tent had tables, a dance floor, plush portable toilets and chandeliers. There was also heating, something those who wore kilts were grateful for. Late October in Aberdeen is a bit nippy about the Trossachs.

I probably would have appreciated the delicious meal more if I hadn’t been so amazed by how clearly I could hear. My family (and new family) are a friendly, chatty bunch and wine wasn’t just flowing, it seemed to disappear of its own accord. The Tent was noisy!

By listening hard and lip reading a little, I hardly missed a word. I talked as much as anybody, almost forgetting about the food on my fork. I was thrilled when a new relative across the table started talking to me and I could tell exactly what she said. My mum saw us and helpfully bustled over, asking me if I wanted to swap seats with my sister so I could hear her better. I was so happy and proud to give her thumbs up and shout (over the noise), “It’s Okay, mum! I can lip read!” l felt on an equal footing with everyone there, being able to hear without any help.

The microphone was faulty, so the speakers gave up and just shouted. My cousin had three best men, a solution suggested by the bride when he couldn’t choose between his best friends. I’m glad he picked all three. They were entertaining.

A band arrived and set up, wedged into the corner of the dance floor, and the new couple had the first dance. They played some Ceilidh tunes and a whole range of covers, filling the Tent with colour. I joined in on the dance floor, jumping around beside my cousin in her green bridesmaid’s dress and second cousins I’d never met before.  Despite volume levels that had the portable loos shaking, I could still hear what people said as we danced right next to the band.

My uncle joked that no good wedding is without a fight, but last night there were no such problems. Towards midnight we were all hugging, saying how great it was to see each other, then heading to the bar together.

Some people say very funny things when they’re drunk, but I won’t embarrass anyone.  Besides, I enjoyed the free drinks quite a lot too.  

I’m so lucky to have such a kind, funny, loving family.