Sunday, 15 March 2009

1981: A Deaf Man In Beckindale...

In the summer of 1981, a young man called Nicholas Houghton (played by David Gillies) arrived in Beckindale to restore a 9th century cross unearthed in St Mary's churchyard, and to make a plinth so that the cross could be displayed in the church.

The Reverend Donald Hinton was surprised to discover that Mr Houghton was deaf. Nicholas was, however, an expert lip reader, and detected much else via sight. He even knew when the vicarage door bell was rung, due to a brief distracted glance from Donald. When Donald walked up behind Nicholas whilst he was working on the cross in the churchyard, Nicholas turned to greet him, saying he knew he was there because of the shadow the vicar cast on the ground.

At The Woolpack, Amos was fascinated by the visitor, who had saved him from a hefty plumbing bill after repairing a leaking cistern (Amos had already sought to repair it and managed to cause a flood, but that's another story!).

Amos was used as the voice of ignorance in the story-line. He spoke to Mr Wilks about Nicholas:

"I cannot get over it, Mr Wilks - I can't believe as that man is deaf. He seems just like an ordinary human being!"

Henry was perturbed: "Well he is an ordinary human being!"

"I know. Well, I know in't way you mean and I reckon you ought to know in't way I mean, no offence intended!"

"None taken - I was just trying to make..."

Amos broke in and got himself in a verbal twist - as he so often did: "I mean no offence intended to him! By saying what I said, which might 'a' been taken as meaning summat what I didn't mean, but which is true any road, 'cos deaf folk aren't normal, are they?"

"Well, of course they are!" cried Henry. "They can't hear, that's all. You wouldn't say a one-legged man weren't normal, would you?"

"I certainly would! Men are s'posed to have two legs!"

Henry sighed. "Yes they are. But a one-legged man is a perfectly normal man who's just lost a leg, you don't treat him like an idiot because of it, do you?"

"I don't treat anyone that way!" said Amos, highly offended.

Before Nicholas left Beckindale, Donald Hinton spoke to him:

"I suppose there's no way... nothing can be done to get your hearing back? I would like to help."

"To make people understand - that would be the greatest help," said Nicholas. "I'm deaf, yes - I wish I could hear. I wish I could make people understand the way deaf people feel. The kind of world we have to live in. But I'm lucky. I can speak. I can read. I have work. There are far more deaf people that I know of that have none of the compensations I have. If you want to help me, try and make the world understand about them."

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