Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dennis has good eyesight

I think Dennis has only been mentioned once before, in passing. He's a lovely old man, emphasis on the "old" part. Before his retirement he was a chairman of a very prosperous bank. Almost none of the residents have any idea. Dennis lives in Barrett House, in a one bedroom apartment devoid of anything luxurious. I would not call Dennis' flat uncomfortable; it's just evident when you look, that for someone who is very wealthy, the place is simple. He's somewhere in his nineties and walks with a limp and a cane.

Dennis has incredibly bad hearing. I don't think he wears a hearing aid of any description. And he must know his hearing is terrible, just from the many times he has to ask us to repeat something. He's perfectly sane; as with many old people there are occasional forgetful moments of course, but he still bears the mark of a very intelligent soul.

Whenever there's a movie being shown, Dennis and the other deaf residents are always placed close to the surround-sound speakers at the sides of the Royale's lounge room. One week there was a special treat for the residents. Two regular performers were coming back to do a show. It's a husband and wife team that sing and play the electric keyboards, and they have a repertoire of golden oldie songs and musical pieces that all the residents seem to love. Each time they do a "concert" the residents spend three days talking about the fabulous show and all the songs they sung, and "do you remember going to the theatre to see that show back in 1939," etc.

Dennis sat right in front of the massive loud speakers for this latest concert, so that we could be sure he would hear. Iris sat right at the front so she could see, and so on. The male singer, Charlie, walked up to a few residents after the show. "So ladies, gentlemen, how were we today?"

Gushing praise and acclimation followed. "I thought it was terrific!" exclaimed Dennis. Charlie took a moment to look deservedly chuffed as the others poured more praise onto he and Janet, his wife. Dennis' next statement might have been amusing if it had been said in jest. Unfortunately, he was completely serious and didn't grasp the humour in what he said at all.

"Of course," Dennis continued, "I couldn't hear a thing!"

Charlie didn't quite know what to say. It's not every day that a singer is told he's only terrific when he can't be heard.

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