Frances Itani's Deafening is the story of young girl in a small town in Ontario who is deaf as the result of scarlet fever at 5. The first part of the novel explores who she learns again to communicate and how her family reacts to her difficulties. Finally her mother agrees to send her off to a deaf school, and the next section of the novel covers that. After she graduates she works in the school's infirmary, and there she meets a young hearing man. They marry just before he leaves for France to work as a medical bearer at the trenches of WWI. The novel deals with all these delicate relationships: between the characters, the society of that era, that of sound and vibration, the experiences of the young men at war and those waiting at home for them, disability and acknowledging or ignoring it. A lovely novel.
Retrospective: old journal
February 1991: Trip to England with Jim and Christina
Thursday, February 11, 1991
Got up slowly, had breakfast and piled on the most mud-proof bits of clothing we could find. Left our bags at the inn and caught the bus to Silbury Hill--a green mound now, startlingly obviously man-made. They've done a few excavations there and really only discovered the way it must have been constructed. There was a terrace on the top, not filled in and still clearly visible.
From there we walked a very short distance to West Kennet Long Barrow .
|The entrance to West Kennet Long Barrow.|
Raining very lightly, but muddy chalk trail--full of interesting stones, so we picked up a few.
The barrow was headed by standing stones and had been cleared out and reinforced. Rain was dripping in spots inside and they'd put in a couple of skylights. People had been in there burning candles, and there were herbs and bits of paper in little openings between the rocks. Picked up two stones inside. Clambered on top--it looks as though there are plenty of chambers still unexcavated. Christina finding many stones. Took some pictures, looked out to Silbury and across the amazing green and misty plain--rolling.
Walked back down, Christina still rock hunting. By chance I found one that fit my closed hand perfectly, with indentations for each finger. I wrapped it in a kleenex and carried it as we walked back to Avebury .
|My view of the walk back to Avebury. Christina walking quickly ahead, Jim in between, and me dawdling behind, looking at everything.|
Still raining slightly as we came to the stones again. Walked through a hilly copse to the ones we'd visited in the dark. Wonderful grassy ditch around them .
|A view of Avebury.|
Went to the gift shop there, then walked through the rain back to the Inn. The innkeeper gave us a lift partway. Changed into less muddy clothes and then stood in the rain waiting for the bus.
The bus was late. Took it into Swindon where I wandered around a long time finding a bank to get some £. Then got on the train to Reading, had to change to a local line then because our tickets would take us right into London because we'd had to get them at Ealing Broadway because of the bombs. It was a real milk run of a train.
At Ealing we got the tube and went to register at the Centre Français. Then, because Christina had teased us about how much the people she'd last visited Avebury with had done in one day, we arranged for tickets for Cats for that night and Shakespeare for Saturday. Left pretty quickly, grabbed fish & chips and ate it on the tube. At the theatre Jim and I managed to trade seats at the play to sit together. Cats was truly an extravaganza. My favourite was McCavity, then Mephistopheles. Dancing, costumes amazing. It was like I thought it would be and yet wasn't. Alas, I'm not much into extravaganza or that kind of music. Expensive, but a rather fitting thing to do here. The music grew on me some and it really was fun.
2. I still have this piece of stone. It really is strange how it just fits perfectly in my curled hand.
3. Interesting how the stones are now interspersed throughout the village.