Giving Voice

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Just another Monday morning?... meeting The Hoff

On Monday morning we set of for Newcastle Airport ready to Give Voice for Tuesday’s Mass Mobilisation in London. I have been excited about the mobilisation since the day I signed up months ago so you can imagine this excitement was even greater once our journey began.
Having been following the blog of Jennie Marshall (an SLT who cycled 144 miles to get to London for the mobilisation) over the last week, I’ve found myself thinking about my own communication a lot. This was especially so at the airport, as I couldn’t help think how scary and confusing such a place could be for someone with speech, language or communication needs (SLCN).  Even more so once we reached Heathrow and needed to ask for directions. A simple thing for my parents and I but a task which could be extremely difficult for someone with SLCN.
We made our way out of the airport, onto the tube and arrived at the hotel without any problems. A quick discussion and reading of the map and we realised it wasn’t far to walk from the tube station.
Once checked in, we made our way to the lifts in the hotel lobby. When we got there my mam said to me  ‘that man looked like David Hasselhoff!’ We didn’t think anything of it until a minute later he joined us in waiting for the lift. I agreed with my mam that the man did indeed look identical to David Hasselhoff, and I let her know this with a little non-verbal communication (a discreet smile and a nod!). By this time I really wanted to hear his voice to establish if he was a lookalike or really The Hoff. He got in the lift with us and just as we were going to ask him which floor he was going to he pressed the number himself (2, for anyone who is interested!) My dad said 'hello' as we got in the lift, and Mr Hasselhoff's 'hello' back confirmed his accent!!

I couldn’t help but look at the man in the lift, and then back at my mam. He smiled at us and I think he knew that we recognised him. He opened his room key card, as he smiled, and my mam and I saw that next to ‘customer name’ read: ‘Mr Hasselhoff’ – we looked at each other as if to say ‘I knew it!’ and my mam said ‘you are aren’t you?’ (yes mam, he is (The Hoff), but he can’t read your mind!) (My mam is mortified that she hadn’t thought of something more sensible to say, but it was just such a surreal moment, and I seemed to have lost my tongue completely! So I’m just glad she actually said something at all. I just stood there smiling!)
The Hoff smiled at us and asked us where we were from, and we had a brief conversation. He told us he was going to his room to sleep and when we asked what he was doing in London he said ‘lots of things, you’ll see me all over.’ Sadly at this point he got out the lift and we didn’t see him again. It all happened so quickly (from ground floor to level 2) that I didn’t even have time to ask for a photo. I was so annoyed with myself afterwards that I took it upon myself to write him a letter to tell him it was a pleasure to meet him. I also enclosed a Giving Voice leaflet and told him about the Mass Mobilisation which was due to take place the next day. I gave him my contact details and asked if he would like to meet me any point to get his photo taken to support the campaign, it would be very much appreciated. I then handed the letter in at reception and asked them to deliver it to his room. The lady on reception took the envelope from me and told me she would ensure it was delivered. (‘shy bairns get nowt!’ and all that). Unfortunately, I didn’t hear from him so I will never know if he received the letter. (I tweeted him but did not get a response).
Although a conversation with The Hoff in a hotel lift was more than ‘nowt’, I am disappointed I don’t have a photo. But you know how the saying goes – don’t Hassle the Hoff!
 My first day in London was indeed exciting, but Tuesday surpassed it by far. I’ll save that for another day though...

Me enjoying a cup of tea after meeting The Hoff

David Hasselhoff on BGT (sadly not a photo I took!)

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