‘Well, YOU’RE obviously not blind,’ grins the woman at the end of the bench. We are at the vet and Grace is still in her harness. I am not sure quite how to respond. It always surprises me how the assumption on seeing a person whose eyes are apparently undamaged, who is without a helper and who isn’t actually feeling their way along a wall is that the person albeit with cane or guide dog, is fully sighted
‘Actually I am..well not blind.. but visually impaired.’
I am staring right at her which is always a mistake. I should really roll my eyes wildly in my head; stumble up to her and run my fingers over her face. At least a small eye twitch…but I haven’t the time to ‘do blind’. I have nice make up on. I did my own mascara. If I twitch I’ll smear it.
She looks doubtful ‘Oh, really?,’ (This must be in case I am not sure.) ‘I thought you were training the dog.’
I do my required two minute spiel about tunnel vision and she nods enthusiastically, all green-wellied lady of the manor politeness. Slones are not an endangered species in Cambridge. She has come in to see if the hedgehog she rescued yesterday has recovered. It had seemed a little ‘off’ which is the polite word for ‘run over’. The elderly receptionist assures her it has been doing fine
‘I’ll just pop into the back to check…but I sure you can take it home.’ The woman apparently releases homeless hedgehogs in her expansive garden. ‘I have plenty of room,’ she snorts happily.
The receptionist comes back rubbing her hands, embarrassed. ‘ Err…would you believe it..the poor thing has expired.’
Expired? I think, imagining a tiny bar code and sell by date on the little hog’s tummy. At that moment the vet comes through looking his usual dishevelled stern Germanic self.
‘Her hedgehog’s dead,’ says the receptionist a little desperately.
‘Ah.’ The vet blinks Prussian-Blue eyes from behind his glasses. ‘We must do better next time.’
Mum and John arrive from a brief jaunt to New York. John had just run the New York marathon and bested his previous time, which considering he had only just started training when I saw them in France a couple of months ago is remarkable. All hail!
I once made the mistake of asking him about sports shoes. ‘I can’t remember if I over-pronate or ..you know the other…but what running shoes on the market would you recommend? Structured insoles? How about resprung layering with sweat resistant technology..?’ I had wittered in my best athletic sounding jargon. He had raised a baffled eyebrow. Turns out he wears ‘trainers’, the older, the more used to his feet, the better. Between them (Mum and John, not the trainers) they still, in spite of marathons jet lag and lugging of baggage, have more energy than Ritalin-deprived, 10 year olds on Tango and spangles. They pile out into my garden chopping, sawing, weeding, mowing and generally saving its life. They rearrange my furniture, put lights up, clean the loo. Although Grace and I can only hunker down under a table and watch all this, I am very, very grateful. The lights in the kitchen make a world of difference. I might actually try reading a recipe book for once I say dancing around. I might even stop eating out of the saucepan and put things on a plate now I can see what they are. Grace inspects the garden and is surprised to see that her dog run is still there, now that the nettles and bind weed have been cleared. She is even more excited to find she can, when no one is watching, now sneak all the way around it and poo secretly in the grass around the back.
Image: Grace (c) T. Bush 10
The week ends with my boiler going on the blink but more importantly with the release of the wonderful Aung San Suu Kyi. Nervous joy greets her, everyone glancing over their shoulders for the guns. What has the regime got in store next you can almost hear them thinking. Why now? Is it real? Safe?
We wait and see.