Sunday 11 March 2012

Britain's Got Talent

"3 year old male, cut above eye, lots of bleeding, called by child"

This country, in fact, the entire world appears to revolve around talent contests. Be it Pop Idol, X Factor, Got to Dance or Britain's Got Talent our population seems to become engrossed in watching people with or without talent succeed or fail. If that wasn't enough there is also the string of celebrity talent contests like Strictly Come Dancing, Dancing on Ice and various other seasonal competitions. As much as these programmes do occasionally show some talent they also lord over the countries failings and its bizarre obsession with celebrity culture. What is talent though? The ability to sing a song well, play an instrument, dance, juggle, an aptitude for sport? All hobbies and a bit of fun, a past time, but talent? I did a job a few months back that made me look at talent with a new perspective. It gave me a new set of criteria by which I judge talent. I bet though if the little girl I'm going to tell you about, walked onto the stage on Britain's Got Talent she wouldn't make the cut because it wouldn't make good TV. 

We were called to a block of flats, middle of the afternoon, middle of the week. We headed round there fully expecting to find a toddler with a cut on his forehead, not complicated and probably not even bleeding. We pulled up outside, clambered up the stairs and knocked on the door. We waited.....and waited. We could hear the crying from somewhere in the flat so we knocked again. We waited.....and waited. Eventually the door opened, at the door was a little girl with a beautiful smile on her face. She beckoned us in and skipped off down the corridor towards the crying. I entered the room to see our patient, the 3 year old, sitting on his mums lap. 

"Hello there,  what's happened today?"

The mother looked blankly at me and nodded towards the little girl.  

"My mummy doesn't understand English, and she can't talk because she is deaf"

"That's OK, what language does she understand?"


I looked at the mum and introduced myself in sign language thinking I was being clever! That didn't help either! There is a general misunderstanding, one I was guilty of, that sign language is universal, the same in every country. In reality, sign languages vary from country to country just as spoken languages do. Each natural sign language that is being used by the Deaf community is part of the country’s cultural, social, historical and religious heritage. Sophia, the little girl, told me what happened. It was as we had expected, he'd walked into the coffee table causing a minor cut which we just put a plaster on. 

"I can translate to my mummy if you like"

"How old are you?!" I said in amazement.

"I'm 5 years old and one month"

My boy is 4 and I was impressed when he was given year 3 words to learn. This 5 year old was bilingual in English and Ukrainian to the level where she could hear my English and translate it into Ukrainian then convert to sign language, then translate back for us. She had called the ambulance, given her address, said what was wrong and spelt out her brothers name for the call taker. I was amazed. The mum was a single parent in a foreign country with such a reliance on a little 5 year old. A 5 year old who had taken up the mantra of responsibility so well. This was talent. This is what should be celebrated by our country. It is kids like this who should be in the headlines. 

Britain is full of talent. Sophia isn't alone. There are kids who care for their parents and take on phenomenal responsibilities at such a young age, ones I can't even comprehend, and they do it with out complaining. They clean and tidy, cook for their siblings, get siblings ready for school and help their parents any way they can. This country needs to celebrate its talent and I don't mean by putting a tubby, cross eyed hippy from Grimsby on a stage to impersonate Lady Gaga dressed in a piece of sirloin steak and offal. Let us just highlight the remarkable talent and strength of character that our young carers have.


  1. wow bless her i can barley get my five year old to get dressed

  2. Goodness. I am always perturbed at the way the media writes off young'uns. Try getting a coffee at lunchtime in a college canteen in under 30 minutes, because of the queues of kids, and then tell us they're all smackheads or layabouts. When I lived in North Yorkshire, every single morning I would see a trendy teenaged boy walking down a really long, no bus stop road hand in hand with a tiny nursery aged child. Come rain or shine. I would worry if I didn't see them, scared someone might be poorly, but sure Mum or Dad had a day off instead and could manage it themselves. We don't give them enough credit these kids. They're going to have it hard. And they're going to know how hard they have it, in a way I could never have coped with when I was younger..Excellent post, as always

  3. Nice one 'Ella'. Some good kids out there, shame about the rest of them!


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