Space

Do you ever think about space? No, not the Final Frontier, into which the starships of the USS fleet so boldly go. However, if Data has an old pair of those specs he wears gathering stardust in the back of a drawer, perhaps he could backward them to me? I'm sure he could find a suitable worm hole in the space time continuum into which they could be dropped. But I digress, by space I mean the area surrounding me and my problem is what other people do with it.

Always a preoccupation for me, this became close and extremely personal recently, when I was severely beaten about the head by a tall, shoogly display stand festooned with cards of zips and buttons. Certainly Mr. Dog and I were in a shop at the time. A lovely shop, but I was in a section I seldom frequent, filled with all the bits, bobs and bolts of material essential to embroidery and dressmaking. Pastimes which, for me, have become part of a former life. Now I limit myself to sewing on buttons and mending hems. And before you tell me about self threading needles, I've got some, somewhere. I can't work them, nor can any sighted person I know. Even my husband, who can happily dismantle car engines, has failed. Before I can tackle even a minor sewing repair, I have to wait until someone has the time and patience to thread a needle. Which, when you think about it, completely defeats the purpose.

Apart from buttons scattering around the carpet like confetti, no harm was done. I didn't even have any packets dangling from my rucksack, in fashionable homage to Zandra Rhodes, but it was embarrassing and similar incidents happen all the time. In a confined space, when Mr. Dog and I meet another person, I reveal my upbringing by automatically attempting avoiding action while the other continues to hover and dither, blocking our progress with shopping bags ripe for entanglement or bulky bahoochie to be circumnavigated. The majority of the population rarely observes, seldom thinks and never, never does both simultaneously.

I've lost count of the times when, lining up my feet and Mr. Dog on the bobble slabs at the crossing, I've stretched out a finger to press the control box button, only to discover, too late that the fuzzy shape just out of focus on my right is actually sentinent, emitting an aggrieved squeak because a wee wifie has just prodded a squashy part of its anatomy. And my explanation, “Sorry, I thought you were the Belisha beacon,” doesn't always penetrate. Staying in the same area, are those who jouk across Mr. Dog's bow just as he prepares to step onto the kerb and return me to the, relative, safety of the pavement. I'm no skelf and chihuahuas are never trained as guide dogs. These are probably the same folk who sidle from shops sideways or else bahoochie first, whilst still conducting a conversation with unseen occupants. At shop windows, they specialise in peering at displays, especially items placed towards ground level, so that being nearly horizontal, they can cause maximum disruption on a pavement.

Then there are grazing weans. Vast herds of them, ranging from toddlers sooking scones whilst being transported by go-chair, said scone waved around just at dog nose level, to large, shambling, shell suited chompers, dribbling a trail of chips and curry sauce as they shuffle along. Yes, junk food is bad for one's health, especially when strewn, squashed and slippery, across one's path.

And all this encountered while negotiating narrow pavements, scattered with wheelie bins, men up ladders and badly parked cars. One of the scariest sensations is to find Mr. Dog and I have drawn level with someone trying to reverse a vehicle into a space too small for it. Grinding gears, revving engine, slipping clutch as Mr. Or Mrs. Incompetent slams the back end of their car across the pavement. Don't they understand this is why the council has provided a large, free car park just a few hundred yards from the main street? And don't start bleating that distance seems much longer when it's raining. Mr. Dog and I have to manage, no matter the weather.

And it's not much better indoors. After all, that's where I met those buttons. There's always something; lurking, waiting to bring me down to earth. The abandoned handbag, trailing strap carefully looped; the small bar stool all alone and palely loitering because it's colour co-ordinated to blend with the carpet; the sharp elbowed biscuit muncher wandering through the crowd , cup and saucer teetering in shaky grasp. Why do such folk do it? Why don't they do what I do? Grab a seat, preferably not one already occupied, or else stand still. And refuse all offers of refreshment, no matter how appetizing.

And so, Mr. Dog works hard, avoiding these obstacles, whenever possible. No wonder, once back home, the lad leaps around his garden then curls up in his basket. He has a hard and very responsible job. It's such a shame the able bodied don't exercise a bit of thought into making it a little bit easier and safer!


© Charlotte Bennie 2008