Living with an Army officer who works in MoD does have some advantages. Unfortunately she is away all week and this morning when her beloved dog had vomited all over the kitchen floor I feel that am entitled to a few advantages to offset starting the day up to my elbows in cleaning products and barely digested dog biscuits! As a quick aside our kitchen is half covered by easy-to-clean tiles and the other half vomit-entangling carpet – you can quickly guess which half the hound exclusively decorated. The advantage to which I allude is there is a scheme for cheap last minute theatre tickets that are emailed to the MoD occupants, so yesterday after work I jumped on the train and we had an evening watching A Flea In Her Ear at The Old Vic – a very pleasant way to end a Monday.
A Flea In Her Ear is a farce, starring Tom Hollander, who couldn’t be bothered to turn up! I’m very glad I didn’t pay full whack to see Tom but the understudy did an admirable job. One of the minor players was the lead’s nephew, who was played as having a speech impediment by dint of a cleft palette. This impediment was a nasal whine that was portrayed as unintelligible to most of the actors but could be understood by those with whom he lived. As the play progressed the young man is fitted with a false palate and can therefore speak normally. Midway through he loses the palate having been slapped while in the Hotel Coq D’Or, an establishment of low morals. Lost yet? He then reverts to having his impediment.
It was absolutely clear that in the opening scene none of the audience could decipher what the afflicted young man was saying. It was comical and there was the odd word that could be teased out but the script was written so that he was supported by the actors able to understand repeating his words. By the end of the play, this support mechanism had been almost entirely removed and we were able to follow the madness without a problem. Now I am sure the actor had not improved his speech, the audience had simply become accustomed to his voice. Now just when you thought there was no point at all to this diatribe, I will reveal all.
What this demonstrates is the nature of speech understanding and the ability of one’s brain to “tune in”. There are many factors behind whether one can understand speech, not just pure volume which makes the job of hearing aids much more complex than simply turning up the world. The vast majority of hearing aids are purchased to improve speech understanding. The audience slowly tuning in to the actor’s nasal whine, shows that we take time to adjust, so I would encourage those who use a hearing aid for the first time to take advantage of the HearingDirect 30 day trial. Try the hearing aid in different sound environments, such as speech, television, different rooms, outside and give yourself time to tune in to make the best of your purchase.