It’s a great many years since I’ve visited the combined territories and dependencies of Here, There and Aawhars. A diverse area; with the various Heres relatively close, the more distant Theres and the whole lot encompassing the Scottish enclave of Ower Thonner. However, the whole place is totally unattainable for us blinkies, even with the assistance of a noble Beast. Yet, everybody still assumes I know the place; both contents and inhabitants.
Only the other morning, an old chap patted my arm as Miss Pupkin and I trudged up the path. “There’s a guid doggie,” he said, “Jist watch oot, somebody’s left a bike propped against the waa up there.” The chap meant well so I thanked him and at least, the bike was propped up, not lying all over the pavement but as to its exact location, I haven’t a scooby. We continued on our way and at some point, must have passed the thing, oblivious to even the slightest prod from a handlebar.
Once, in the Health Centre, I was told there were plenty of seats Over There. And probably there were; except some were occupied. As I found out when I plapped myself down on an old buffer’s knee! He was awfully polite about it. Said it made him feel so much better as nothing like that had happened to him for years. However, ever since, whenever I’ve gone to the Health centre, I’ve asked the receptionist to take me to a seat. An empty one. It’s all very well asking Miss Pupkin to do this but these Noble beasts are sociable creatures, preferring company, so are likely to take their owner to whoever is already ensconced.
Out shopping could be more awkward but asking for assistance usually solves the problem. I let the staff negotiate the routes in and around Over There. Imagine the chaos if I allowed myself free rein amongst the tubs of vitamins in Boots or the shelves displaying the Co-op’s selection of red wine!
Worst of all is when socialising. Told there’s a comfy seat just here and a cup of coffee has been placed right there; then flinching as the whole company gasps in fear as I carefully pat around whatever the surface is until I make contact with it. Honestly! If folk are so worried about what I might do to their best china, why don’t they just give me a mug from the picnic hamper or something plastic used by the weans? It’s not as if I’d notice that everyone else was imbibing from the Crown Derby!
And, in this season of parties and Nichts Oot, there’s the problem of the unfamiliar dinner table. Compounded by everyone, even me, being dressed in Something Posh which can only be dry cleaned. Just as I’m familiarising myself with the geography of cutlery, glasses and locating my unfinished gin and tonic, some misguided soul starts. Rabbiting on in the vaguest of terms that the condiments are Right Here and there’s a bottle of white Down There. Things become really frustrating when the food arrives and I’m told the sprouts are Right There. I make a tentative grab for them but cannot locate the serving spoons. It’s not much fun, sitting for several minutes, while a hot bowl of sprouts rapidly cools and you realise the more desirable side dishes are quickly being emptied by those around me.
But, would I really enjoy a tour of the Here and There territories? After all, if my sighted friends are to be believed, they are full of abandoned wheelie bins, potholes and piles of dog poo. Their disorganised inhabitants scatter their pavements with bikes, half eaten take aways and the off cuts from their hedges. The gangways in their shops are blocked by economy packs of toilet paper, the cheap stuff, in lurid pink and the shop floors lethal with tangerines and other fruits rolling across one’s bows, squashed grapes lurking in the shadows, all ready to take out any unsuspecting ankle.
Yes, on reflection, it’s best to leave such territories unexplored After all, would Dr. Livingstone or Sir Ernest Shackleton have traipsed around their stomping grounds wearing blindfolds?