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Definitely Not Sign Language

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Sitting on the sofa watching Mandela's memorial, I asked my husband what the hell the guy signing for the deaf thought he was doing.

I am no expert. But even to the untrained eye you could tell he was not doing what he should be. The guy looked about as bored as most of us get watching X Factor - glancing occasionally to the heavens for inspiration or to see if the rain was ever going to stop.

Regular sign language that we see in the corner of our TV screens involves a great deal of excitement, arm waving and painful facial expressions usually reserved for the maternity ward during labour.

We are used to this level of exaggeration and I quite enjoy it. Sign language experts always seem to be having a far better time than the actual act on screen.

Watching the person signing can be a bit like watching a UKIP supporter speak to someone they consider foreign: lots of pointing; fish-faced enunciation and rolling of the eyes.

As it turns out the guy signing for the deaf at the Mandela tribute was not signing at all. He was just making a few limited gestures - like a conductor with a very small orchestra of mice.

Experts have tried to de-code what he actually 'signed' during the ceremony. They have only managed to get one word from the four hour marathon -'child'. Given that Obama was making a big speech about inspiration and his emotional journey to the White House - I am not sure that is altogether complimentary.

More worryingly for Obama, a man unknown to most of the Security Staff loitering about the premises having a sneaky fag was allowed to stand within a few feet of the Leader of the Free World and wiggle his hands about in a non-threatening manner.

Presumably the security staff were hired by the same dodgy agency that paid the interpreter 850 Rand for the job. The security guys were probably moonlighting as well. In their day job they are accountants that wear beige and have never had a fight in their life.

Now the 'Guy that Can't Sign for Toffee' has been cornered he has come up with a story and sharpish. He claims he is schizophrenic and 'heard voices'.

With all due respect to genuine sufferers of the condition, hearing voices is an essential part of being able to sign for the deaf. That is at the heart of the job - hearing on the behalf of others. Hearing voices is very much a positive if you are a sign language expert.

If I was able to spot this hoax at home on my sofa 6,000 miles away without any knowledge of the art of signing, why the hell was he left there on stage all day looking like a doughnut?

My friend tells me he understands sign language perfectly and understood every word the man was saying. Evidently he was not speaking gibberish.

He was saying that he inherited £60 million from a long lost relative but he needs someone to send him £10,000 for legal fees. If you help him out he will give you 10% as thanks...

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