Lesley Kiddell-Spencer and her darling grandson.
Bit about me, I went deaf at seven (that’s not great when you are a Dr Who fan and love music) due to meningitis of course. I have two deaf children (who married deaf spouses) and I also have five grandchildren, all deaf except one. I tell my daughter-in-law, Kaizen must belong to the postman, so you see I have my very own deaf club.
Married 3 times, only one of whom was deaf, I tend to trade them in when they fail their MOT, but my current one is a lovingly restored classic car so he will be fine. My first husband had to deal with me blasting the chicken instead of basting it as I read the recipe book wrong and he couldn’t understand why I kept going to the kitchen to switch the oven on full blast then back down again. My current one who I met on a dating website had a heck of a shock coming face to face with a whole deaf family when he had never met a deaf person before…you can imagine communication was hilarious.
I am old – 55, and have spent the best part of my life fighting stupid systems made up by idiots with nothing better to do. I was in the radical FDP – that was a brilliant time, thousands marching for recognition of British Sign Language, I had to make a speech at Trafalgar Square, so I was plied with whiskey beforehand by the other committee members as I was a wreck, and can remember nothing of it except I probably made a right idiot of myself. We were in the media often… ‘Lesley and her comrades’ in the Guardian newspaper (their words not mine but boy did it turn me into an egoistic eejit) I still smile about that now. However my life is like the Coldplay song “Viva La Vida” go read it and you will see the higher up you go, the greater the fall.
I have long since learnt, everyone is different, now that was hard because I wanted everyone to think like me because they jolly well should, people can be wonderful, and on the other extreme nasty.
Ten years or so ago I jumped out of my ivory tower as CEO of a deaf organisation and regenerated myself as a female Lovejoy, becoming an antique dealer which had always been my passion. I get hold of the most weird and wonderful items, and meet equally weird and wonderful people, however the antique world is a bit like the Mafia. Fortunately, I have blonde hair, green eyes (never mind fat and 5ft) not to forget deaf so I have been adopted very well, and boy do I play the deaf card, otherwise I would have found a horse’s head in my bed by now.
In my spare time I also take all kinds of deaf people on guided tours of the Richard III centre in Leicester – a man I totally am in love with, despite the fact he has been dead some 500 years plus. Yes, I am eccentric too. Or you can find me in a field full of people and mud, digging up the past with archaeologists (no, I promise I don’t pinch the stuff to sell!) I once found some bones in a Roman children’s cemetery and I was scared stiff, until they told me it was an expired rabbit.
What do I want to see? Utopia, where everyone gets on and dances around with flowers in their hair singing and kissing, but oh my days that’s never going to happen. Technology has brought out a terrific change for deaf people, but with that has come out a new kind of nastiness with respect, morals and tolerance flying out the window into cyberspace and I sadly realise deaf people are never going to unite. I fortunately have thick skin but many younger than me do not and are open to attacks, which can seriously cause a lot of grief, we have sadly reverted back to school day bullying.
As for expecting the whole world to change to understand hearing loss, and go mad, when they don’t… I was once like that and believe you me it is arrogant to think that because no one has the right to expect everyone to revolve around you – even if you are disabled. All minority groups have these issues, it’s just a case of trying to teach and have an open mind. There will always be downright rude nasty horrible people, I was probably one myself and so were you… I learnt to cut out the negative influence in your life.
I saw a saying recently which sums me up perfectly
“Don’t confuse my personality with my attitude… My personality is who I am, my attitude depends on who you are”
by Lesley Kiddell-Spencer.