And the Cat died….

Tanvir Naomi Bush Disability, Visual Impairment Leave a Comment

First off my apologies for the long gap in posts but an hour after the last one the vet called to say my wonderful old one toothed, odd purring moggie, Martina, had liver cancer. Within a couple of hours I was holding her in my arms and watching as the vet pushed the plunger on the hyperdermic and her heart was stopped. She just dropped her nose into the crook of my elbow and her little heart stopped. I was beside myself with grief and guilt and even now as I write this, knowing it was only a matter of days for her, my own heart feels black with guilt. I have seen so much death but I have never been the one who signed a life away before.
I was collected from the vet by a friend and another friend later took me to a pub for whiskey but there was no time to gather myself as Teelo’s wake was Saturday and I was flying to New York on Monday.
On Saturday morning I walked into the kitchen and smashed Martina’s feeding bowl in fury at the week. I felt like a murderer.

Friday after the funeral

Tanvir Naomi Bush Poetry, Writing Leave a Comment

Teelo’s funeral was in Lusaka yesterday. They played reggae and handed out roses. In Zambian tradition it was an open coffin and everyone who saw said he looked peaceful. In fact Mrs. T, known for her acerbic and bitter take on life commented later to her daughter ‘There didn’t seem to be anything wrong with him to me, ‘ in an aggrieved tone that implied he might be faking. His great friend Mu did the eulogy and my father sent a text saying the church was packed to the gills.The wake took off right after the cremation and I imagine is still going on.
I lit candles and played Marley and danced and cried in the dark drinking too much gin. Later I spoke to C, his ex, on my mobile for hours. Vodaphone are going to love me.
Today I am hung over and resemble the weather which is grey and soggy. My old moggie is at the vet having her liver scanned. She has obviously also been at the gin. I refuse to even contemplate she may be too sick to come home so I will need to go and pick her up this afternoon and I still want to get to the gym to get rid of some of this podgy melancholy.
Tomorrow I go to London, to a Zambian restaurant on Southwark Bridge to drink more (good god!) in honour of Teelo with those of us who couldn’t make it back to Lusaka.
I am inarticulate and miserable so less said better.

Car crash takes my friend away

Tanvir Naomi Bush Poetry, Writing 2 Comments

I was going to write about the golden light of autumn this weekend, about a friend’s new baby and about some quite funny stuff that happened last week…but a man was killed on Saturday night and his death changed everything.

This man was about 6 foot but taller with the huge matted dreadlocks that he had been growing since he was in his 20’s. They were showing a little grey but not so you’d notice. He was what he would call, with his explosive laugh, a ‘goffle’ a coloured man, mixed race with roots in Scotland and Zambia. He had been born in Ndola a mining town in Zambia but I am not sure what his Dad did there. I know he was a bright kid and a charmer even back then. I know he always dreamt of ‘the big time’ but wasn’t sure what that really meant for him. He was an excellent actor even as a youth and a self taught artist. He ran his own graphic design business but he still dreamt of something bigger. He could have been a film star- he had the charisma. In fact it was charisma, this huge bear like personality that made this man a central hub of my community. He was a self professed bullshit artist, he was a barfly, he was a womaniser and he was occasionally a bully but he was huge hearted and warm. Strangers and old friends flocked around him. He was the life and soul of every bar he commandeered.

Incidently …at the vets…

Tanvir Naomi Bush Disability, Visual Impairment Leave a Comment

I have had a couple of notes of support about this blog and I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Baring one’s soul (and in my case, my teeth) is only possible with your help, feedback and criticism.

Yesterday a dear pal, D, popped by for lunch and was kind enough to help me out by driving the cat (with the off purr) and I to the vet. The vet’s waiting room is so much more exhilarating then the doc’s. People turn up with motley collections of creatures on leads and in cages and usually spend much of the time leaning over said creature speaking in baby talk. People ,and English people at that ,actually talk to each other at vets…the doggy people usually shriek at each other – mostly about anal glands and mange. Cat people are usually quieter and looking a little guilty. Cats will have that effect.

Nodding off in the loo

Tanvir Naomi Bush photography, Visual Impairment 1 Comment

I mentioned that travelling through cities is quite a challenge with limited sight and therefore a bit knackering, but I think today was a bit ridiculous even for me…. I had organised to meet a journalist at the National Film Theatre on South Bank. He wanted to interview me about a photographic workshop I did a couple of months ago specifically designed for visually impaired people and I thought I would then use the day to doss around some art galleries and perhaps extricate an employed friend or two from their offices for lunch. Unfortunately it was green bin day today so the walk from my flat to the station involved manoeuvring around hundreds of bins on narrow pavements and then having to run for a train.

Spike Lee did good.

Tanvir Naomi Bush Disability, Visual Impairment 2 Comments

Here’s the thing…documentary film is so important because it can somehow weave archive material, emotion, personal journeys and personal ‘truths’, passion and great spontaneity too. And they are so often about stuff we need to know about but could never begin to find out….to see, to feel on our own.
Documentaries don’t always tell the truth. To begin with there is the camera and then the person behind the camera, the producers, researchers funders yadda yadda..so many filters..and eventually there is the extreme skill of the editor – but the real artistry of good documentary is that it can move us, make us quake in our boots, think, debate and potentially even get off the sofa and follow up on what we have just seen. All film needs to be sold to a broadcaster/audience so there is ALWAYS an angle. In a way a ‘truthful’ documentary is an oxymoron. That aside, I have just watched Spike Lee’s ‘When the Levees Broke’ a four-part ‘requiem’ about Katrina, New Orleans and the aftermath. There is no disembodied voice-over telling you what to think; just stories from every angle from the people who were there, wonderful composition, editing including archive that grips and carries you through.

Murky Saturday

Tanvir Naomi Bush Poetry, Visual Impairment 1 Comment

Today is difficult. Grey light with murky vision makes me feel claustrophobic; everything looks like its under dirty water. I only just got out of my pajamas and its lunch time and there is a pile of work to do…none of which I can assure you will be done. My sight is too tricky to go into town. Without being able to drive or ride a bike anymore one’s world gets really quite ‘local’. The only choice is to walk come rain or …well, as this is England, ‘not rain’. I am always considering how many crowds and how many major roads there will be and today…nope. Its not completely laziness. there is an element of self preservation. I make mistakes when feeling soul weary and when you are pretty blind those mistakes can cost you a lot more then just your pride.
Anyway – I am hoping England win the rugby this evening as beating the French usually ensures the general English gloom lifts across the nation and the word ‘jolly’ can be used again at least until the finals…
Meanwhile a poem. (Don’t say you haven’t been warned…)

Parkour for the blind!

Tanvir Naomi Bush Visual Impairment, Writing 1 Comment

I was thinking of parkour today…you know the crazy wonderful sport of urban ‘running’ where you jump and run and do remarkable physical feats whist dashing from a to b in a city. The opening stunt sequence of the last James Bond had a parkour sequence – the stuntman was an original parkour ‘choreographer’. ( I must also recommend the fabulously daft but exciting French film ‘District 13’ which has mind-blowing parkour sequences….
Anyway and yadda yadda… I was thinking that I would have loved to have tried it when I had more sight..but actually then I realised that a lot of us VI (visually impaired) people would probably be damn good at it as we already have to plan and judge and think on our feet- fast and as far ahead as we can vaguely see each time we head out the house. I, and many with tunnel vision, learn to manoeuvre with huge blank spaces in the world. . One has to make a guess and a damn good one about those tricky blank spaces before one walks through them and that is more complicated the more people and ‘urban furniture’ (maaaan…how hip am I? Well not a lot obviously if I am still using hte word ‘hip’) one has to walk around , over or through. .. only aterwards you may feel the whoosh of the car you didn’t see, or knock into the edge of a stairwell you didn’t quite see…great for adreneline junkies! But that is why one gets a tad weary when trying to travel through London or figure out how not to get run down when crossing a 6 lane main street in New York. Yup, all us visually impaired people are doing parkour brilliantly everyday..just very very slowly…….Truly extreme sport …If you ever wanted a rush try taping your eyes half shot on your way into work next week…

Introduction to my first blog!

Tanvir Naomi Bush Disability, Visual Impairment 3 Comments

I have Retinitis Pigmentosa. This may sound like the Latin for some exotic garden plant but unfortunately is actually a genetic disease that causes the cells in the retina in the back of the eye to give up the ghost in varying patterns with no fixed timetable and often several side effects..the most annoying one being eventual blindness. Right now I have a very limited tunnel of vision which blurs and distorts occasionally during the day depending on light and stress. My peripheral sight, what’s left of it is a white out. Additional blurring is due to a secondary condition called macular odema which is extremely annoying but at least comes and goes unlike the RP which kills the cells and then leaves them lying around like a load of old garbage blocking the remaining view.