There is a tiny woman with nicotine-blonde, over-curly hair in the side-alley ahead of me. She seems unsure of which pavement to go to and is turning around and around on herself in the middle of the road. She spots me over the roof of the parked cars and immediately her small gnarled face lights up. She leaps forward, forcing me to slow and stop then stoops slightly as if bowing.
‘Isn’t the weather lovely?’ she says in a bright rehearsed voice.
I am about to agree with her. The sun is indeed glorious. We’ve been walking happily for hours and sweat is trickling down between my shoulder blades but the woman suddenly notices Grace and sways as if struck. She peers up at me with wide, red-rimmed eyes for a moment and then says with a curt nod. ‘Oh but never mind. You’re blind.’
‘I’m not.’ I retort hotly then sigh feeling like a plonker in my huge dark glasses and sporting a very fashionable guide dog.
‘Ah.’ I say to Grace. ‘She’s bonkers.’
Grace looks at me.
‘Well I’m not totally blind..,’ I mutter narrowly missing the lamppost Grace is trying to pull me around. . ‘Hardy at all in good light actually.’
‘Bonkers is as bonkers does,’ wags Grace’s tail.