Somewhere Else Writers now have a slot in Cirencester Scene, a monthly magazine delivered to 12,000 homes in the Cirencester area.
I heard that – pardon? – by Richard Lutwyche
Hearing aids are wonderful devices and, having misspent much of my youth in operating as a DJ in the 1960s and 70s, I am surprised that I have not yet found the need for one! What? Oh, sorry, I thought you said something.
I’ve never been convinced that these increasingly miniaturised machines work. My first experience of one was as a small child. My Great Aunt Hetty had one. It must have been one of the first to replace the ear trumpet. Although probably then only in her 60s, she seemed truly ancient to me. Her hearing aid was a huge earpiece with wires that hung down to a box about the size of a cigarette packet which she secured to her waist. Being an elderly Scot, she had acquired a delicate pink silk purse in which to house the gubbins.
Great Aunt Hetty preceded Jimi Hendrix by several decades in inventing feedback, but never achieved his widespread popularity. The box in its silk purse would squawk and squeal as she fiddled with the knobs at the same time intoning “I canna hear you, dear…” in her plaintive voice. Her husband, Great Uncle Donald, had enormous sticky-out ears and an equally enormous degree of patience as he would repeat comments to her endlessly until she either heard them above the shrill sound of her tweeting hearing aid, or gave up needing to know.
My father too needed one in his sixties and when he eventually retired he would sit with my mother watching the racing in the afternoon. She was an inveterate chatterer; he an enthusiastic follower of the sport of kings. He knew his bloodstock so well, that he could easily follow the racing with his hearing aid, switched off….
My brother too inherited the Scottish genes from my mother’s side in more senses than one. He did his national service in the Seaforth Highlanders and spent the rest of his life north of the border, mainly in Aberdeen where he served in the police. His hearing deteriorated too and as he passed into his seventies he was often told that his hearing needed some enhancement. Having enquired further, he informed his daughter that there was no way he was paying THAT MUCH for a hearing aid, so she should learn to live with it. She countered that he was increasingly difficult to cope with as he never heard anything anyone said to him.
He compromised quite splendidly. As some of his many friends expired, he would approach the ‘wifeys’ of those who had worn such devices after the wake, and ask if he could have their hearing aid, never being refused. He used them diligently and could once again hear most of what went on around him, or at least that which he considered interesting enough.
When he died last year, my niece found eight such devices in a drawer. I’ve asked her to keep them. Just in case.
Dust – by Bridget Arregger
Dr Elizabeth Rictus sat stooped over her desk like a desiccated praying mantis, elongated legs entwined under the bespoke orthopaedic swivelling office chair, elegant long fingers stretched over the keyboard. Her long painted nails would have made typing difficult but they were needed only to hit a few strategic keys before activating the voice recognition software.
Dr Rictus tapped in her initials, selected today’s favoured username from a list of anagrams and watched two more dots add themselves to the row representing her hidden password. She waited the briefest of moments as the website calculated her matches. She had one thousand matches available. Some, unknown to the website, were no longer viable. Her profile stated that she was an historian. Why would she lie? It wouldn’t appeal to all men but she didn’t want all men. She was taller than average, fit, active and very comfortable. She made sure that her photographs showed her luxurious home to its best advantage. There would be men who would wish to marry her for the house alone. She did not hide the fact that the building was in a remote part of the Fells where mobile phones did not work.
She selected a few likely matches as favourites. Waited to see who responded. Dusted the house while she waited. Needed to dust. While the builders had been busy, she had developed a most irritating allergy to dust.
Three responses. A good number. She chose one and tapped on ‘send an email’. Relaxed, swivelled and dictated. She told him a good deal about herself: her failed marriage, disabled son, daughter in Australia, house rules for the singles parties she organised. She could let the words flow. At the end of two crammed pages she stopped to allow him to catch up. There would be a few voice recognition errors but if he was as intelligent as his profile suggested, he would be able to work out the intended meanings. The more intelligent the better, she had found. Not streetwise. Or suspicious.
He responded in kind: his expensive divorce, his craving for adventure, his dream of moving to the countryside. He could touch type, he told her, with his eyes shut. An unusual and delicious image. She sent him more photos. He responded with details of his city flat.
Before long, he requested that they meet, had found it surreal to correspond so fully without really knowing each other. They arranged a date in a convenient pub half way between their respective homes. Better for you, he said, to be cautious. She did not contradict.
She allowed a suitable time to elapse after the appointed time, phoned in a message to the bartender that she was running late and would the single man wearing a dark blue overcoat with white carnation please either wait or make his way to her house.
She had good feelings about this one. She folded a duster on her desk, swivelled gently and waited.
All the short stories and poems from earlier this year and before can be found at Cirencester Scene Archive 2017