. . . of what I can do with lipreading. I’m anticipating that, if it all works out as it should, the CI will fill in the gaps in lipreading – not an exact science even for people who’ve been lipreading for a long time. I think I’m quite good at it – but it IS tiring, so I’m hoping that I’ll end up less tired at the end of the day.

You can lipread people in mirrors and in reflections on the bus or top (quite a discreet method of eavesdropping until your eyes meet in the reflection). When you tell people this they always ask if it’s reversed – NOOO – it’s not like text!

It’s possible to pick out accents because of the difference in forming the vowels. An American friend of mine from the Midwest puzzled me when I first met her because she told me she was “going down to the SHAARPS” then I realised she meant “shops”. I can tell that the Bear has a noticeable Durham inflection – “posh North-East”. He cannot say “year” the way I pronounce it in standard (Southern) English – it’s “yurr”. With him it’s not “butter” with a hard “u”, it’s a sound approximating to “boot’a” (a softer version of “boot” with a long-drawn out vowel.) I could put this into the phonetic alphabet, but I don’t want to sound like a dictionary. Durham segues into Tyneside, but I can tell the difference between the Bear and my best friend. I can pick out the individual accents of all my colleagues, from Scottish to Lancashire to Cockney (unusually, it’s the consonants that give it away – “fank you” rather than “thank you”) to German to Received Pronunciation. I can even see the difference between two colleagues from different parts of Lancashire. Other than the vowels, I couldn’t even begin to tell you how I know – and I wouldn’t necessarily place the particular accent – I would just see the difference from the standard English I grew up with “down south”.

My mother marvelled that I was able to lipread other deaf people who didn’t, or weren’t able to, use their voices, but this just seems natural to me. I can usually tell that people are deaf just by their lip patterns, even if they have good speech – I can see this on my own lips in the bathroom mirror or when chatting to my mum in a crowded ladies’ with other people between us.

I’m hoping that this will give me something to cast my anchor on to in the brave new world.