I would be the first to admit that my hearing is not as good as it once was. I can still identify a small, individual sound at a hundred paces, but I increasingly struggle distinguishing separate voices amidst a background chatter. So, set me loose on tracing a pin drop: fine. Attempt to hold a conversation in a busy pub: not so good.
As I have previously mentioned, I have spent a lot of lockdown watching foreign-language dramas, effortlessly slipping between French and Spanish; Polish and Russian; Danish and Norwegian, all thanks to the English subtitles that bob up in perfect synchronicity to the televised speech.
But now I am beginning to find it hard to watch a programme without subtitles. Hollywood blockbusters, BBC costume dramas: all too often I am struggling to make out what the characters are saying; increasingly accusing the actors of mumbling their lines and swallowing their words. Futilely, I stab away at my TV remote, hoping to find some magic button, which will deliver a clarifying stream of text across the bottom of my screen, but to no avail. Instead, I turn up the volume, lean forward in my seat, and strain my ears attempting to catch the all-important clue to the murder mystery, or the vital comic punchline in the rom-com.
Until, frustrated, I once again return to my Italian crimes, and Swedish noirs, and German dramas, simply because I can no longer understand the English.
© Stephanie Snifter
Steph Snifter finds herself in a spin over subtitles.