Independence

As regulars will have realised, there is much in life which I find annoying. However, I’ve long ago realised that, whilst some annoyances can be conquered, others jist are and, therefore, have to be tholed. The nack is, recognising which is which.

The next stage, is deciding how practical this solution is. In my case, this invariably translates into whether or not I can afford it! Especially as my works pension isn’t exactly in the same league as that of retired directors of RBS.

It was the search for solutions which persuaded me to attend a recent Road Show organised by Action for Blind People which had found its way to our remote corner. A Tardis masquerading as a minibus; stuffed with gadgets and a staff of two. Obviously, they didn’t have every aid available, but if they didn’t have it, they provided details, either on the item itself or on who sold it. I spent over an hour there, leaving with a wodge of brailled information plus useful anecdotal information about the new talking labeller, so new, it hadn’t reached their catalogue.

Must have been quite a squash, guide dogs and blinkies, bumbling around a cramped, unfamiliar space? Actually, no. Hardly anyone turned up! Mr. Dog and I had cadged a lift with a friend; so that was one Noble Beast and three humans, including another friend who had ferried us . A wee man appeared later, looking for information about the eye condition with which he’d just been diagnosed; surely he ought to have been given that by the NHS? Oh yes, another chap stomped in shouting, “Ony o youse got a Mercedes? Cos there’s yin ower there, wi its boot wide open.” This puzzles me. Did he think a Merc robust enough to cope with the vagaries of a blin driver? Or did he think only someone with deficient eyesight would abandon a car in a car park in such a vulnerable state? Or was he just thick? Mind you, we’ve recently changed cars and our current model has so many gadgets; sat nav, automatic headlight control, beepers indicating objects both in front and behind us, I’m trying to persuade my husband that Mr. Dog and I are capable of the odd, independent expedition to Dumfries. Provided he gets the behemoth out of the garage, that is!

But, this isn’t a piece extolling the luxurious gizmos of our new car. What niggled me about that Road Show is how few folk turned up. Although it had visited the town before, this was my first visit, because on previous occasions I’d been on holiday. I certainly concede no event occurs on a date which suits everybody, but three blinkies? At an event advertised via the local Talking Newspaper! I can meet more bumbling around my local Co-op!

As I type, the Talking Labeller sits on the desk, between me and a hibernating cat. If I hadn’t decided to write this, I’d be labelling most of the kitchen, including Mr. Dog. At a tad over fifty quid, it’s a truly magical item. But Reasons To Be Cheerful don’t have to be technological. I’m currently house bound, courtesy of the worst winter in over thirty years which has turned our street and every street, between me and the shops, into a lethal, glistening sheet of ice. Just as well, I receive milk from the milkman and my bulky shopping via an amazing organisation, the Food Train. Yet, I’ve disabled friends who use neither facility! Why not? No computer necessary and deliveries door to door.

Several years ago, the local NHS organised a local meeting; endeavouring to discover new ways of delivering essential information to the visually impaired. One elderly chap scoffed at getting to grips with e-mails and web sites. Not because of the faff and expense of a computer but because, for him, all that was unnecessary. He had a wife!

Regarding computers, I’ve been forced, kicking and screaming, into using such a device. Through gritted teeth, I must admit, without the wee bugger, I would be at a loss. If this machine had a neck, it would have been wrung years ago. Natural essertness has made me seek out support and tuition in an effort to maximise its usefulness. But, I’m not advocating computer literacy for all; just as I wouldn’t recommend every blinkie should have a Guide Dog. However, there’s no point greeting because something can’t be done. Yes, perhaps this activity must now be consigned to a Previous Life. So far, I can find no way which would allow me to do embroidery, play badminton or drive, even with all the gizmos which our new car boasts. But, via Braille, I can follow recipes; Mr. Dog guides me around the town, simultaneously warning the general public, or at least, a majority of them, that I ought to be given extra considerations; and, notifying all sorts of organisations brings more thoughtful treatment from a range as diverse as Sky to the local taxis.

Is this playing the Disability Card? Definitely not! Since life, both for me and those around me, has become more awkward, surely it’s common sense to redress the balance whenever possible.


© Charlotte Bennie 2010