Where to start?
I am a 47 year old father of a 19 year old daughter, M, and 17 year old twins, J (aka Golden Balls) and R, lovingly collectively known as the twit-twins or more simply the twits. M has recently moved out to live in Scarborough, where she works in a nightclub/bar. M designed the logo for this blog! The oxymoronic twits live full-time with me in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, along with our (often) incontinent King Charles Spaniel Alfie and M’s hamster Jessie. I was divorced in July 2015 after 25 years with my ex. I have a girlfriend, GF, who I have been seeing since September 2016.
My mum and dad, who live in Bridlington, are (often far too) regular visitors. My younger brother P, and his family live in Norwich.
I work in-house as a solicitor, with the grandiose title of Group Legal Director, for a company that distributes cider around the world. I split my time between our office in Manchester, and my kitchen table. Putting it simply, I absolutely love my job and the people who I work with! Previous to that, I worked for the biggest law firm in Leeds for 9 years before being made redundant, undoubtedly one of the best things that has ever happened to me! I have mentored numerous people within the legal community and sat on a Law Society committee, both of which I found very rewarding.
Before commencing my legal career, I was a full-time international sprinter, winning 24 international medals, including two silvers at Barcelona 1992 and a silver and a bronze at Atlanta 1996. Sydney 2000 was an illness and injury riddled washout! I did this for 14 years and was lottery funded for about seven of those years. I desperately miss those lycra-clad, being-sick-after-every-training-session medal-winning days. I still try to keep relatively fit in my garage gym.
I’m a lifelong season-ticket-holding Leeds United supporter, love attending my son’s rugby league matches, and love betting on sports, especially horses and golf. Due to a reasonable degree of success, six of the major bookmakers now refuse to take bets from me – a badge of honour if ever there was one!!
On occasions I suffer with minor depression and anxiety – possibly linked to LUFC – but this has never stopped me from working. I’ve a bad back, bad shoulder and a bad neck, but this doesn’t stop me trying to ward off the effects of getting older through regular exercise. I have to get up to the toilet several times a night, my hair line is getting ever higher, I can’t’ get in or out of a chair without saying “aaaah”, I struggle to stand for an entire football match, putting on shoes/socks is one of the hardest things I do every day, but mentally I still feel like I’m 24!
I love quizzes (although I can’t remember the last time I was part of a winning team despite partaking at least once a week), comedy gigs (especially at City Varieties in Leeds) and sing in a choir.
I love (but spend most of my time denying myself) strong Belgian beers, single malt whiskeys, red wine, chocolate, biscuits, crisps and other less healthy foods! I often struggle to sleep unless my belly is full of at least one of the aforementioned!
I find walking my dog, cooking and (perhaps surprisingly) housework relaxing, especially whilst listening to sport or comedy podcasts. I love watching comedy on TV and films, and I’d be lost without my iPhone. My steam mop is undoubtedly my favourite appliance.
I have been an extra in a Robson Green TV film and had my photo on Kellogg’s Cornflakes boxes throughout 2000. I also work with a couple of local charities.
Oh yes, before I forget, as it might crop up once or twice on this blog, I’m totally blind and have been since I was 21 can’t even tell if it’s light or dark anymore!
I was very lucky indeed when I lost my sight aged 21, because soon afterwards I met a group of the most awesomely amazing blind athletes whose example inspired me to tell fate to feck off and to carry on trying to achieve and to get the most out of life (not just sport). I fully appreciate that not everybody is fortunate enough to find themselves in the same situation in which I found myself.
The subsequent 26 years of living as a totally blind person, competing and winning medals at three Paralympics (and numerous European and World champs), qualifying and working as a solicitor, having three kids, breaking two guide dogs, getting divorced after 25 years together and subsequently dating again has given me so many great stories to tell. And then there is my all-too-frequent catalogue of calamities/embarrassments/accidents/faux pas as well! I want to use these stories to achieve several objectives.
First, and foremost, I want the world to know that losing your sight need not be the end of the world. Most of the achievements that I’m proud of occurred since I lost my sight, In fact, had I not lost my sight, I doubt I would have achieved half as much as I have. Knowing that you are going to have to fight hard for everything that you want certainly helps to concentrate the mind! I would love people to think of me as someone who shows that great things can be achieved with the right attitude, help and support and that blindness need not signal the end of the road, but the start of a new (and possibly exciting) journey.
Second, through my experiences I want to help both those with sight loss and those who know someone with sight loss, even if it’s simply to let people know that they aren’t the only ones who have eaten a salad with a Mr Muscle dressing, got dog shit on their face, got lost in someone’s garden, or tried to have a conversation with a horse and just ended up shouting at it “why won’t you answer me” – don’t ask, it’s a long story and I can feel my cheeks reddening at the memory! I just want to do for others what the group of blind athletes I met did for me all those years ago.
Third, I aim to lift the veil on what life is like as a totally blind person and hopefully clarify a few misconceptions. It’s true that we are all great lovers, but we don’t all weave baskets for a living!
Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, I aim to amuse and entertain, mostly through exposing the predicaments in which I find myself due to my blindness. In fact, the genesis of this blog came following the responses I received to my various posts on Facebook, all of which told the world of mishaps, injuries and embarrassments experienced by me due to being blind. It helps engender a really positive way of viewing such events if your first thought is, “I can’t wait to tell the rest of the world about this!” I remember once almost knocking myself out on a lamp post when walking the dog one day, and once the world stopped spinning, my legs stopped wobbling and I felt I could let go of the wall I was leaning against, the first thing I tried to find was my phone, not my white stick!
Just like in life, you have two simple choices; you can either laugh or cry when reading this blog. I’ll be upset if you choose the second option – laugh, please let yourself laugh, and laugh loud, for I am going to endeavour to find the humour in every pickle that I find (or may find) myself in. Sure, there will be pathos and sentimentality every now and again, but hopefully not too much, or at least not too much without a quip or two here and there.
Friends (and even my mum) often say that they don’t know whether to laugh or not, because the basis of my posts could be seen as tragic if you were that way inclined. But I always tell them that laughing is exactly the right response – who wants to make people cry or feel sad because of the plight one finds oneself in? Surely it’s much better to make people laugh, whatever the reason?
So, why don’t you come along for the ride – if the last 26 years have been anything to go by, it’s unlikely to be boring!!