Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Post post

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching...well, o.k., approaching at a rate no faster than any other day...I am, of course, expecting a plentiful bundle of cards and gifts to be arriving shortly. No doubt there will be far too many to just drop through the letter box, so I will have to answer the door to collect my goodies. “So what?” I hear you saying, rather rudely if I may say so. Well, I agree that this mundane task should really not be worth writing about. But the fact is, answering the door to a postman or delivery man is, for me and many like me I suspect, still a difficult social interaction.

After nearly 30 years of living with a visual impairment, you’d think I’d be used to this everyday (or every week) occurrence. But stop! Hey wait a minute mister postman. Not so. The fact is that each of those deliveries is a moment where the package has to transfer across the threshold from the sighted world to the visually-impaired, and that can be a messy business.
Here’s why. The unsuspecting delivery man, no doubt not really expecting anyone to answer the door anyway, quite often doesn’t announce himself. Why should he? After all, he’s dressed in a nice postie-type delivery-man uniform, and is stood at my door holding out a parcel. You’d have to be an idiot, or blind, not to know what was going on. Yes, ok, or both. Thanks. Of course, if he saw me out and about with my guide-dog, or a white cane, he’d know better, but he hasn’t and I’m not. I look pretty normal. Well, unless it’s an early morning delivery, when he might be forgiven for thinking he’s delivering to some kind of horror attraction.

Usually, the nice man realises there’s something up with me and shoves the parcel into my hands. Except more often than not, there’s also the whole signing of the electronic gadget fiasco to go through. “Sorry, mate, I can’t see” I say. “Oh, o.k. mate, just sign in the box”. “Sorry, I can’t see”. “Just under the address sir”. “Sorry, I can’t see”. Etc. Etc.
Eventually the nice man either gets bored and just signs it himself, or he has to guide me to sign in the right place. So then this perfect stranger, whom I’ve only met a few seconds ago, has moved in close and has hold of my hand. “Up a bit, up a bit more, that’s it!” Most undignified, I have to say.

Monday, January 18, 2010

What goes around comes around

Generally speaking, I am not a believer in fate. I like to think that we are ruled only by a swirling cloud of chaos and mishap. However, every now and again events conspire to make me wonder if there isn’t someone up there having a good laugh. One such event happened to me at the end of last year and, before I go any further, I must apologise for once again returning to toilet humour for my post. I’ll lose interest in the topic when I grow up.

Anyway, my cautionary tale actually starts some eight years earlier on my first day working for my current employer. As is my won’t, I decided to try out the facilities. Of course, my induction documentation said nothing about the dodgy lock on the gents’, which was a single toilet affair, opening onto a corridor. So you can imagine my surprise when I was sat there in my glory and the door opened and thankfully closed again fairly quickly with a few mumbled apologies. Of course, the misery did not end there. As the toilet was several feet from the door, I had to shuffle along pretty sharpish before anyone else decided to pay a visit. That was one mistake, possibly the only mistake, that I did not make again during those eight years.

Fast forward to my very last day in the same office, prior to a move to a brand new building. Mind no doubt full of reminiscences, I wandered along to pay a final visit to the same offending lav, still with the dodgy lock. Of course, it wasn’t until he said something that I realised the seat was already taken. Thank goodness I didn’t have my ipod in.

Now, that sort of symmetry doesn’t happen by accident does it? What’s more bizarre is that it could easily have been the same guy on both occasions. I’ll never know, thank goodness.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Little Wonkey

As has become something of a tradition in our house, we once again made the radical decision at Christmas time to go to church. I know, rebels or what? And, as usual, I was lulled into thinking I would enjoy a nice carol concert. Perhaps due to the infrequency of my church attendances, it always comes as a bit of a disappointment when the church organ starts up and, with everyone else I stand up in readiness to sing of joy and good will. Only at that point do I realise that I can’t remember the words to any of the carols, apart maybe from the opening of Once in Royal David’s City...and they always keep that bit for the choir.
So, as usual I felt very self-conscious humming along and looking very bored. I always imagine that the priest is going to spot me, stop the music and demand to know what is the matter with me. He didn’t – thank his boss.
I was very interested to learn about the project to which the collection from the service was to go. Apparently, Newcastle is blessed with a team of ‘street pastors’ whose job it is to offer comfort and counsel to members of the flock who get into trouble after what we fondly call a ‘neet oot on the lash’.

It wasn’t until I checked out the project’s website that I realised the true nature of their work. The following is an extract from
The Street Pastas project started in Italy, under the leadership of the Reverend Al Dente, and now operates in many of Europe’s urban centres.
Street Pastas provide support to the fallen and the stumbling, often in very practical ways, as demonstrated by these wonderful examples:
Jimmy, aged 32 from Whitley Bay –“I felt terrible. I think my tenth pint was bad. Anyhow I was out in the street trying to vom but I just couldn’t get it up. Then this gadgy turns up and offers me some spaghetti – right long stuff it was. It was half down my throat when he yanked it oot again. Ya bugger that did the trick, champion. I felt terrible about his shoes like, but hey, what can you do?”
Sharon, 19, from Wideopen“I’d been on tequila slammers all-night and as soon as I hit the fresh air I went down. Dropped me chips and everything. Then, out of nowhere, this bloke came up. I thought I’d pulled. But then he lifted me head up and put this massive piece of ravioli under it. It was dead comfy – I was out like a light.”