I was fortunate last week to fly First Class. I sit on a government committee that they deem to be so important that members fly First Class. For the pedantic, it’s Busimess Class. I have told te Government that I am happy to fly economy but they are having none of it. The flight to Brisbane set the tax payer back $1069 each way for a whopping $2038 round trip. Given that there are  15 people on the committee flying from as far away as Perth, this is one very expensive meeting. I am sure they have corporate rates but still the cost is enormous. So being me I pulled on some shorts a scruffy t-shirt and runners and set off for the journey. Hell it’s Business class, if you are going to be spoilt you may as well be relaxed. They serve you with real cutlery in Business Class … All except the knife. The knife is plastic. Supposedly to discourage would be terrorists. Quite absurd really because the fork is still metal and capable of just as much damage. But anyway I lapped up free Chivas and red wine and while I was at it stole a glance back at the plebs in economy. I allowed myself a wry grin as heads at the end of the plane bobbed up anxiously, no doubt starving and wondering when the food trolley was going to reach them. Business Class is oh so much more satisfying when you are not paying.  If you want to know why they cant pay for your Auslan interpreters at your TAFE course, well I reckon its cos people like me are scoffing Chivas on tax payer money that could be better directed elsewhere.

I must be getting old because lately I have been reflecting on life. I came to the conclusion that we deafies owe a lot to the Egyptians and even the stoneage cavemen. The cavemen, you see, were the first people to write. They didn’t write as we do today but they told stories through cave drawings. These cave drawings told the story of the hunt and everyday life of those times. Through these drawings humans began to realise that they could record and remember events. As time went on this evolved to more abstract symbols like the early  hieroglyphics of the Egyptians. The Egyptians then invented paper which led to things being recorded on paper, bound in books and read by the masses. Thousands of years later the human desire to record, remember and be entertained led to not just books but also theatre, television, computers AND – much to the delight of the deaf, captions. From cave drawings to captions, surely I am not the first person to make this connection?

It is not just captions but text in general. I live for text. SMS, MSN, YAHOO, captioned telephony, Facebook, the National Relay Service, Captions, Facebook, emails, the Internet and yes, did I mention, – Facebook. 95% of my life is spent reading text in one form or another. It’s a wonder that I do not yet need glasses but without doubt life is so much easier for me as a deaf person because of text!

And captions are my favourite. Especially television captions. Especially live captions. Live captions are funny. The mistakes they make are just hilarious sometimes. Live captioners have a special machine that helps them type fast by use of phonetics. Words are programmed in such a way that the captioner need only type in a few letters or a phonetic symbol and the whole word comes up on the screen. But sometimes they get it hilariously wrong.

As is usually the way when I am trying to remember funny errors on live captioning I can not, so I thought I would do a web search to see if anyone had recorded funny live captioning errors. The funniest I could come up with was this – Take a look at the picture. This error is but the tip of the ice-berg – believe me this is not an isolated error.

What the captioner meant to say was evacuating. But somehow, through a slip of the finger, the live caption came out  as, ejaculating. Of course it was a very serious story but the image of men in the middle of the road umm – well you know  – while a a house or something is going up in flames is guaranteed to send even the most prudish person into hysterical fits of laughter.

And sometimes the captions just freeze. Last week I was watching Australian Rules Football. Australians will know that Australian Rules Football is a very fast and rough game, not for the light hearted. A goal was scored and they cut to an Ad. When the Ads had finished the final Ad had a caption that froze on the screen – it said simply “Gentle Music”.  For hearing people who are not aware, captions also cue in sound effects. Obviously many deaf cant hear the sounds in the back ground so the captioner will let you know whether there is music going on or traffic sounds just so the deaf watcher can get a feel of what is happening. These captions often do not capture the  dramatics of the scene. For example in an early Star Wars movie,  when that big star explodes, the caption was “BANG”

Anyway, back to the AFL. The Ad is finished and we are back to the game. There is a goal mouth scramble ,  a player gets whacked in the back of the head and goes flying, another has his knee  busted and is carried of in obvious pain, there is an all in melee as  players let each other know that they are tougher than the other … all the while the frozen caption down the bottom says “Gentle Music.” Imagine turning on the television at that very moment and seeing this violent scene with the caption “Gentle Music”. Perhaps you had to be there but take my word for it – IT IS FUNNY!

Then there is of course. me and my wife trying to communicate. When you are tired and married to a deaf person you tend to be very sloppy in your communication. My wife gets quite irritable  when I misunderstand her  and visa versa. Last night my eldest had to watch and critically analyse the movie Hairspray. It started well – his first question to me was ” Why the hell is John Travolta in a dress, couldn’t they have used a proper female.” He had a point.  Anyway when the movie was over  he had to go and write it up for school the next day. He did this in the kitchen.

After about half an hour he comes in and says something to his mother. She was a tad cranky. She was not feeling well and had a bad bout of mouth ulcers. In comes the eldest and mutters a pearl of wisdom that I did not catch. The wife sent him on his way with a tirade that went something like .. “that’s irrelevant, stop wasting time get back and finish your homework.” Of course, as his his way the eldest has to respond, ” but but but but ….”  The wife was having none of this and sent him firmly on his way.

As an interested spectator of the exchange I asked the wife what was going on. She replied with something that looked like, ” He is just telling me about being cynical.” I of course needed to put in my two bobs worth and said something about the need for him to be “Skeptical” rather than cynical. The wife looked at me as if I was a complete moron but I insisted that  a good critic uses skepticism and to be cynical would not win the eldest any browny points with the teacher. The convo went on like this for a couple of minutes with the wife getting increasingly cranky with me. To cut a long story short the conversation ended with ” I didn’t say cynical  I said sequel”  The eldest had come in simply to tell us that there would be a sequel to Hairspray. The wife sent him on his way and told him to FOCUS! I of course misuderstood sequel for cynical. When I said cynical she thought I had said sequel. When misunderstandings happen like this it is mandatory to abuse each other a few times before you find out that you have actually misunderstood each other.  This we did – but to our credit once we realised the error we saw the funny side and had a good chuckle.

Being deaf is so much fun sometimes – That’s life 😀