One minor casualty of our building works is that the doorbell stopped working. It was at least twenty five years old so it didn’t owe us anything, but it had an excellent sound for me – a deep, long, loud buzzing – and it was a shame to lose it. I resolved to look up what was available in the Action on Hearing Loss catalogue but before I got round to that a couple of minor problems occurred. Nigel left his keys at home one day and had to resort to ferocious banging on the front door to get my attention (scarred by previous experiences, he knows there is no point knocking politely). But a delivery van driver must, I think, have knocked politely or rung soundlessly because he appeared outside the kitchen window, making his way back from the shed at the back of our house where he had left a parcel. I was sitting in the kitchen at the time, but had heard nothing. Hey ho.
In the end a new doorbell arrived before I managed to check out Action on Hearing Loss’s recommendations. The electrician arrived to fix a couple of other small problems and brought a Honeywell Activlink to see what we thought. It’s a wireless model, with a long range, so you can sit it more or less anywhere in the house. It has a fiercely loud sound (adjustable – the maximum volume was a bit much even for me) and a range of tones (so I could choose one with a suitably deep pitch). Even better, it has a flashing light, which strobes on and off at the same time as the very loud sound “bing bongs” at you. Hard to miss! In short, it’s great. It turned out that a similar Honeywell model features prominently in the Action on Hearing Loss catalogue, so it has a wider recommendation that just me and the electrician.
Even better, because it’s wireless I could have it in the bedroom when Nigel is away, to sit alongside the air raid warning smoke alarm and alert me (by the flashing) to anyone ringing the doorbell in the middle of the night when I haven’t got my hearing aids in (?? I suppose if anyone wanted to do that it really would be an emergency….). Then I’d just need a flashing light baby monitor to alert me to Izzy barking at 2am (normally indicating a diarrhoea crisis) and I’d be all set. All this equipment just to go to bed on your own.
Hearing your own doorbell isn’t the only problem if you are deaf. If I call at someone else’s house I can’t hear if THEIR doorbell has rung, assuming it is a normal bell with sweet dulcet tones and modest decibels. If nobody answers I don’t know if they are not in or have a faulty bell, so I usually start knocking just in case. I accept that this is completely ridiculous behaviour (the percentage of faulty doorbells in the UK is doubtless extremely low) but hearing loss sometimes takes you to strange places. Occasionally (wonders!) bells have a little flashing light on the bit on the door frame to say “yes, I’m ringing inside the house now – never fear” but that’s rare. It would be great if it was standard,
Sometimes this mistrust of doorbells has bizarre consequences. The other day I got home to a card telling me that a parcel had been left with a particular neighbour. This person’s house has two doors facing the lane, a “back” door into her utility room and a “front” door into the main house. Both have bells. My neighbour almost always uses her back door so I went there and rang the bell. I couldn’t hear anything (as per usual) and there was no reply, so I tried again. Nothing. I knocked. Still no response. Nosily peering through her kitchen window, however, I could see that her conservatory doors, at the back of the house, were wide open. Unlikely, then, that she was out. I moved along to the front door, hoping to see her and catch her attention and there she was, in the conservatory with her back to me. So I rang the FRONT door bell. Success, she waved, and I went back to the utility room door (because she always comes in and out that way???). Next thing (of course) she appears at her FRONT door. Eventually I got the parcel. I’m sure a person with normal hearing would have rung the doorbell once, got no reply and then thought “ah, not in, I’ll try again later”. Just call me Ms Persistent.
Talk of testing pieces of deafness-related equipment reminds me of the time, years ago, when I decided to buy a new travel alarm clock. These days I have a very good vibrating model, that clips to a pillowcase and works beautifully, but this was a time when my hearing was somewhat better and I could hear a (loud) alarm without my hearing aids in. Off I went to the department store in town and explained what I wanted. A really lovely shop assistant offered to test out various models, at maximum volume, whilst I took my hearing aids out. Goodness knows what other shoppers thought as she methodically worked her way through the gamut of alarm clock noises. By the far the best (for me) was a clock featuring a really loud crowing cockerel. COCK A DOODLE DO. COCK A DOODLE DO. Delighted, I bought it.
It worked fine whilst travelling for work, although doubtless it caused a few shocks for people in neighbouring hotel rooms. Then one day I got home, unpacked my things, put the clock in the bedroom drawer where it lived and went to bed. Next morning a drowsy Nigel complained bitterly about “the new cockerel at the farm”. “The b***** thing started crowing at 6.30 and went on and on and on……” Then it dawned on us what I’d done. After that I made sure to switch my alarm clock off when I got home from my travels.