1992: my first Paralypics, Part II

The first post-selection task was to collect our team kit at a Paralympic training weekend at Solihull. We took the opportunity to do some intensive training whilst we were there.  The amount of kit we were issued with was astronomical.  Track suits, jogging suits, water proof suits, dress suits, blazers, shirts, ties, shoes, trainers, socks, t-shirts, sweatshirts, bags, rucksacks, hats, base ball caps, water bottles, and most importantly bum bags were all handed out.  We were all asked to make sure our kit fitted us, and unlike the kit we got when the kit was supplied by BBS, the vast majority was an exact fit.  The only kit which did not fit me was the best shoes we were ever given.  A swop shop was held and I managed to get a perfect fit, a pair of Loakes shoes which lasted me until the Atlanta Paralympics when I picked up my next pair of quality shoes.

 

At the time, other than spending most of my time with my ex, my social life revolved around going out with my friends at a weekend, as most 22 year olds do, and a lot of that time was spent in Bridlington rugby club. Once I had gained official selection for Barcelona a lot more people started to take an interest in my preparations and prospects.  At that time I was receiving no funding from any official body and was living off state benefits of £38 a week.  One of the rugby club regulars, MC, took particular interest.  MC had moved to Bridlington from the Peterborough area, and as a result was known throughout Bridlington as Cockney M.

 

It must be noted at this point that Bridlington, being miles away from anywhere of any note, is very insular. Non-Bridlingtonians are split into two main camps, Wessies and Cockney’s.  Cockney’s strictly speaking are supposed to be born within earshot of bow bells, but in Bridlington anyone south of Nottingham is a Cockney – they all sound the same to us!  The Wessies are in theory people, who like me, either live in, or originate from, West Yorkshire.  However, Bridlington folk use this term very indiscriminately, and in effect any person who visits Bridlington that is not a Cockney so described is obviously a Wessie.  Therefore, if ever in Bridlington, try wondering around the town centre, aimlessly getting in the way of the locals, or step onto the road in front of a car and pin back your ears to find out if you are a bloody Wessie or a bloody Cockney.  You might be surprised.

 

Cockney M took it upon himself to raise some money for me to help me prepare for the championships and to give me some money to help me once out at the championships. He badgered most businesses throughout the town and bit by bit the money started to role in.  A benefit night was arranged at the Cock and Lion nightclub,  where a raffle was held using prizes that had been donated by locals and local businesses.  Every time a prize was drawn out the winner donated it back and an auction was held.  It was amazing to see everyone dipping into their pockets to help me out.  It was probably more to do with M’s enthusiasm and popularity that somewhere in the region of £1000 was raised for me.  I owe M a great debt of gratitude and that money certainly helped me to prepare for Barcelona.

 

M’s money was soon required for additional physiotherapy. My friend JK was back home on leave from the army.  Since the first Gulf War, JK hadn’t been back in Bridlington that much, so such events were treated like a sort of homecoming.  It was to be my last night out before I went tea total for the rest of the season.  Being 22 and out for a laugh, it was decided that we were going to do 20 pubs by last orders.  At first I was horrified, there was no way I would be able to drink 20 pints, not if I wanted my usual donna kebab at the end of the evening.  However, it was decided we would only do halves, so being young and foolish I thought it sounded like a laugh.  The last time we had tried such an endeavor we had worn Bermuda shorts and Hawaiian shirts, and taken out blow up crocodiles with us and wrestled them in pubs around town.  On that night we spent 10 minutes trying to out run a police van before we realised it was JK’s dad who was a copper asking him what time he’d be in at.

 

The night went well. We entered a pub, I went to the toilet, we downed our halves  and then moved on to the next hostelry where the procedure was followed.  Much hilarity ensued, and by last orders we had managed to accomplish our goal of 20 pubs; we actually did 24!  I felt very drunk, but at that stage in my life that was nothing new, as like the rest of my friends we did tend to put a fair bit of beer away every weekend, and had done so since we had started working at about 18 or so.  However, I didn’t feel like doing a club and having to evade the usual threats of violence, so I took JK and his girl friend M up on their offer to walk me home.  As JK was, and still is, fairly hap hazard with his guiding, I decided to let M guide me.  We were so busy chatting and telling her all about the fun and games we had had earlier in the evening that I lost track of the route we were taking back home.  I was in the middle of describing some hilarious act when M slowed down and said “step”.  As she had said step singular I presumed that we had reached a curb and so stepped off and kept on walking as normal.  However, a few things told me that I was not stepping off a curb.  The first thing was the fact that my second footstep didn’t touch the floor when I put it down on what I thought was the road.  The second was the scream that came out of M’s mouth.  The third was the angular bits of concrete that I kept bouncing off.  When the screaming and bouncing stopped, I realised that I had fallen down a flight of steps.  As I heard water lapping nearby, I immediately knew that I had fallen down the flight of steps that led to the harbour edge.   I had never in all my days gone this way home, and my first thought was “who put those bloody steps there?”  My second thought was that my knee was hurting a bit, but I wasn’t too concerned as I could walk on it reasonably well.  I said I was fine and managed to limp home with no major problem.

 

When we got back to my house JK, like the good soldier that he was, explained to my Mum and Dad that I had taken a fall and then quickly sounded the retreat, leaving the casualty in the crossfire of one concerned parent and one fuming parent.  He told me later that despite my protestations that it was just an accident, if looks could kill then JK would most certainly be dead, and my dad guilty of murder.  Good old Flynn started to lick the blood off my knee which was poring out of my torn jeans, and after I had got cleaned up I went to bed telling mum and dad not to worry as I was sure it was just a bit of a bang.  However, when I woke in the morning my knee had locked solid.  It was only six weeks before the Paralympics.  My last night out could possibly be my last night out ever if JA found out.  “Gladiators ready?  Athletes ready?” – not really J, my bloody leg wont bend.

 

The first thing I realised was that I was completely unable to walk. I had banged my knee before, I had sprained my ankle and badly torn my hamstring, all things that meant one leg was useless.  On such occasions I had hopped everywhere, but it was impossible to hop on one leg whilst the other was locked solid in a straight position.  The only way I could move was to walk backwards and drag the leg in its locked position behind me.  Going down steps was less difficult, as I could hold onto the banister and hold the straight leg out in front of me and hop my way down, but going up steps backwards was quite tricky.

 

After lots of tears from my mum, and angry threats from my dad, we went up to casualty to see what damage had been done. Being guided was extremely problematic.  I had to walk backwards,  dragging my leg along, which meant that the person who was guiding me had to face me, with me holding onto their shoulders for balance whilst they held on to my waist.  The result looked like we were ballroom dancing into the casualty department.  No serious damage had been done according to the doctors, time as usual would heal it.  The question was just how much time?

1992: my first Paralympics

1992 was the year that I found out what disabled athletics was really all about – the Paralympics. Just like able bodied athletics, its all about the opportunity which only comes around every four years for you to win the biggest prize, the one that every athlete dreams about.  Every other medal and championship is secondary to a Paralympic games.

 

The Paralympics get their name from a combination of the words Olympics and parallel, as they run parallel to the big one. I must admit that I always get a bit angry when people refer to these games by any of the usual set of misnomers.  “Are you running in the special Olympics this year Andy?” would be greeted with a short lecture about the fact that the special Olympics are for people with learning disabilities where everyone gets a medal regardless of their level of performance, as opposed to the Paralympics where medals are handed out on a purely performance basis, and the only people in my races with learning disabilities are the guide runners.  Alternatively, people will refer to the games as the Paraplegic Olympics, or the Wheelchair Olympics.  I have often pointed out that unfortunately I am not eligible for either championships as I am not a paraplegic or wheelchair user.  Using the last two names is like a red rag to a bull, as often the perception amongst the public, whether in a sporting context or social context, is that being disabled is synominous with being a wheelchair user.  Informing a receptionist that you would like to take advantage of the lower disabled entrance fee has on occasions been greeted with “well where’s your wheelchair then?”  I often get irate people complaining that I have used the disabled toilet when I don’t use a wheelchair.  Just for the record, I prefer to use a disabled toilet rather than the standard male toilets for two main reasons.  Firstly, it is less likely that I will bump into the back of someone stood urinating, thereby causing them to either splash their shoes or their leg, or worse still, feel their bums as I’m trying to find the urinal.  Secondly,  it is impossible to get lost in a disabled toilet, but let me reassure you, it is not impossible to get lost in a normal male toilet – some of them are like rabbit warrens!  A prime example being the loos at the Law Society; if it wasn’t for the Law Society President rescuing me whilst attending an awards ceremony, I probably would have still been lost in the bowels of the Law Society today.

 

It also annoys and upsets me when Paralympic athletes refer to themselves as competing at the Olympics. I know that for some they do this because they don’t expect people to know what a Paralympic games is, but to others it appears to be that being a Paralympian is not good enough.  It is as though the term Paralympic or Paralympian imports some degree of being second class along with it.  This is probably the reason behind calls from many people in disabled sport to merge the Paralympics with the Olympics, but you’ll never hear me espousing the virtues of such a move.  I am proud to be a Paralympian.  I do not want the Paralympics to merge with the Olympic games to give it credibility.  It is quite credible enough thank you very much.  The result would be such a watered down sanitised version that those calling for it would inevitably have no games to compete at.  Only a tiny majority would get the chance to compete on the biggest stage in their chosen sport.  This mindset is absurd to me. The majority of disabled athletes, and disabled people generally, spend a deal of time in our social lives trying to educate able bodied people that we have qualities and skills to offer society, that we are valuable in our own right and should be treated as equals, yet certain athletes act as though the only way to be treated as equal and receive validation is to compete at the same time as able bodied athletes, in the same stadium and in the same championships.

 

The Paralympics are held every four years about three weeks after the Olympics, or the test event as we like to refer to it; someone has to test out all the facilities for all the disabled athletes after all. The spread of sports is somewhere in the region of 18 or 19 different sports, with athletes competing in cerebral palsy classes, amputee classes, wheelchair classes, sometimes (depending on the current political preference within the International Paralympic Committee (IPC)) athletes with a mental impairment compete, and of course athletes with visual impairments.

 

I knew 1992 was going to be a big year. 3 to 14 September 1992 was etched on my mind’s eye, after all, it would be another four years before I would have another chance just to compete at the biggest festival of disabled sport, let alone a chance to win the elusive Paralympic gold.  It became clear to me at the first Paralympic training weekend that everybody else felt exactly the same, and I don’t just mean the athletes.  The coaches and support staff who would be involved in putting forward athletes for selection and who would themselves form part of the team management were clearly excited at the prospect.

 

J “Gladiators ready” A was a major force within the GB Paralympic set up as well as the British Blind Sport set up. JA was an important person to impress if selection for Barcelona was to be achieved.  Therefore I was very pleased when he stopped me after a training session and said in his broad Scottish accent “you’ll be fine, if you can find a decent guide runner”.  JW, having a very high opinion of himself and no lack of confidence in his guiding abilities, didn’t bat an eyelid.  JA certainly knew how to motivate athletes and after every meeting we had as a group I always left feeling that my ability had increased just from listening to him.  One thing that was for sure, if he was present at the track athletes worked hard.  I’m not sure whether that was because you always felt like his eyes were on you, or because you could hear him shouting encouragement and abuse at you whilst running, or just because you were scared that his dog (which was the size of a small horse) was likely at any moment to run onto the track and chase after you.

 

Whilst away from designated training sessions with the rest of the squad I was working hard at the track in hull. BS, my coach since 1988, was working me hard with the intention that I would be able to run a good 100m, 200m and 400m by the September of 1992 if selected for Barcelona.  JW was doing all of my training with me, and often I would wait until he had finished his sessions before he guided me.  JW was just as motivated as I was.  We both had a burning desire to be selected and this permeated into every session we did.  If JW moaned that he was tired after doing his own session I would motivate him by mentioning the B word, Barcelona.  If I got tired towards the end of a session all JW had to do was mention the B word and I used it to drive me forward to the finishing line on every run.

 

However, one issue still had to be sorted, and that was my classification. My sight had undoubtedly got worse since the European Championships only a few months earlier.  In France I could see a bit of track when I was stood up, but now I couldn’t.  By night my sight was different.  I could see car headlights from long distances and street lights from some distance as well.  But that was of no real utility to me.  I wondered if my sight was now bad enough for me to compete in the B1 category without any feelings of guilt.  My deteriorating sight had been commented on at training sessions, and team staff had suggested I spoke to the British Blind Sport classification expert, Dr IF,  about my sight.

 

I rang DR IF and asked him what he thought. He told me to ask my mum to get four or five objects from around the house and hold them out about a foot in front of my nose and ask me to identify them.  I was unsure as to whether the very small patches of colour and bits of outlines of shapes that I could make out were really what I was seeing or just part of the usual collage of colours and shapes that I could see.  Whatever, I had no idea of what the objects were that she was holding up.  Once she told me what she had been holding I realised that various bits of the images I saw could have been parts of the objects, but other bits still made no sense.  There was no way I could identify them independently.  After only a couple of objects Dr IF told me that I was a B1 and my classification had been taken care of.  To this day I believe I am the only athlete to have had his sight classified over the phone.  I think this way of carrying out medical examinations was a pre-runner to NHS Direct.

 

As a B1 athlete my chance of gaining selection had increased, as had my chances of winning a medal. I was in the midst of a paradoxical situation, I wanted to be able to see better, but I also wanted a better chance of winning medals.  As the state of my sight was out of my hands I don’t suppose my views on the subject was either here or there, but I was aware of the absurdity of it all.

 

I was personally in no doubt that I would be selected for Barcelona, due to being in the easier B1 category (coupled with a hint of youful arrogance!) , but this did not make me rest on my laurels.  Instead, it inspired me to try to improve enough to give myself a real chance of winning medals once I got out to the champs, and I worked as hard as I had ever done.  The resulting early season performances were satisfactory and progress was definitely being made in the right direction.

 

Despite my self-confidence, it still came as a great relief when I received official confirmation that I had been selected to compete in the 100m, 200m, 400m and relays at the 1992 Barcelona Paralympics!! My new-found dreams were going to come to fruition!

A toast to Alfie

It’s been a horrible week as we lost Alfie on Sunday. I didn’t fully appreciate how upsetting it would be, nor how guilty I’d feel having been the one to make the decision to put him out of his misery.

 

We’re going out tonight for a family meal to wave the Twits off to uni and I dare say we’ll raise a glass or three to Alfie as well.

 

I’m not sure whether he ever figured out that I couldn’t see, or if he simply thought that I liked kicking him out of the way! Either way, I’ll miss you Alfredo.

 

In honour of my hairy wingman (as GF referred to him), here’s a few FB posts in which Alfie featured.

 

1 June 2014

 

Whilst taking Alfie for a walk this morning a motorist stopped and asked me for directions – I didn’t think I was the most obvious candidate for such a task, and I did point this out to him, but he insisted … Good luck sir, you’ll need it!!.

 

23 June 2014

 

Took Alfie out for a walk this morning and a small boy who was with his mother on the way to school asked me if I was looking for something under the ground. Apparently, he had never seen anyone with a white stick before!!

 

31 August 2014

 

I’ve heard it all now! I’ve just got back from taking our super manly attack dog Alfie, a puppy sized King Charles spaniel, for an evening stroll, where an old git had a go at me for not controlling my dog; apparently, his extendable lead was too long! When I asked why it was too long, he said that Alfie was going for him! I told him that he might get his knees licked to death but apart from that he had nothing to worry about. When he kept on having a go as he moved on, I’m afraid to report that I wasn’t quite so polite!!

 

27 November 2014

 

Well, I suppose it’s almost Pantomime season … I managed to lose the dog this morning after I took him off his lead to explore the grassy area in the lemony snicket, and all the time he was … yes, you’ve guessed it … behind me!! I really should put a bell on the little fecker!

 

12 March 2015

 

What a lovely windless still morning today. I’m not sure what time it gets light at these days, but it was most pleasant listening to all the birdsong when out with the dog this morning, even went on the long walk it was that nice. Roll on spring!!

 

10 May 2015

 

What a lovely still morning. At times on my walk this morning, apart from the noise of my stick whizzing across the pavement, the only sound was birdsong, very relaxing and uplifting for the soul. Perhaps that explains why I managed to walk 100 yards without using my stick, relying on Alfie the amateur guide dog instead…. unlike last night when I twatted my forehead on a lamp post after only five yards trying the same trick!! Or perhaps it was just something to do with blood alcohol levels … As the sages from Chumbawumba say, I get knocked down, but I get up again … literally in this instance!

 

3 November 2015

 

OMG!! I think Golden Balls has taken too many head shots at rugby, as he’s just set out to take the dog for a walk, but forgot the dog! Admittedly, he didn’t get far, but what a muppet!!

 

20 November 2015

 

Now that’s what I call a fog! I couldn’t see a fecking thing this morning. It took me ages to find the dog after I dropped the lead! Be careful on the roads you guys, please.

 

27 February 2016

 

Oh feck! A mile away from home with the dog and the end has just fallen off my stick! Now here’s where the Jedi training comes in handy!!

 

20 March 2016

 

Thanks to the old man who kindly highlighted my faux pas this morning as I was absent mindedly strolling along with the dog enjoying the sunshine and birdsong…. “Mate, you’re in the middle of the road!” All I could manage was a sheepish “thanks” and a rather embarrassed grin! Appears I must have stepped down a curb at a side street and was oblivious to having missed the up curb – whoops!!

 

Have I got dog breath??!!

Alfie, our beloved family dog, is sadly on his last legs and is struggling with his food at the moment; the result is a very, very, skinny, poorly dog. He won’t go anywhere near his usual food, but still wolfs down ham, chicken and cheese, and over the last few days even some of R’s popcorn and a Weetabix that J dropped on the floor! Even so, he is still losing weight.

 

In an attempt to prolong the inevitable, last night I served him chopped up chicken breast in a cereal bowl – he flipping loved it. This morning, I got up early to make him some rice and chicken to see if he’d take rice as well – he’d nibbled on a bit yesterday morning, but wasn’t really interested. As the rice boiled, I located the cereal bowl and placed it on the work surface; there was no point washing it, as I was only going to put more chicken and rice in it, I thought.

 

The smell of the rice made me hungry, so I started to prepare my granola/porridge oats/blueberries/strawberries/yoghurt concoction. I was a bit miffed though, as all I could find in the cupboard were my least favourite cereal bowls; we have two types, one made of thicker material and with a higher rim, the others being made of thinner material and with a lower rim – I prefer the former as I can fit more in without making a mess! When I say without making a mess, please note that this is of course relative – perhaps I should say without making a massive mess!!

 

Five minutes later, a right mess made on the work surface, my breakfast eaten and the rice boiled, I started to prepare Alfie’s meal. I located his dirty bowl on the work surface and started to transfer the rice from the pan. It was at this point that it struck me; the bowl I was filling up was a thinner lower rimmed type – Alfie’s bowl from last night was a thicker higher rimmed type. My stomach started to lurch as I checked the bowl from which I had just eaten my breakfast.

 

You’ve guessed it – I’d just eaten my lovely healthy breakfast out of my dog’s dirty breakfast bowl!!!!

 

OMG, I think I’m going to be sick…

Howzat for bowling a maiden over?!

Following an invite from an ex-work colleague, I went to my first cricket Test Match last Friday at Headingley, in Leeds.

 

It was a fun day, and although I behaved myself (for once) with the free booze, thanks to my pocket radio and Test Match Special I did manage to partake fully in the sporting action!

 

As Headingley is on GF’s route home from work, she picked me up outside the ground afterwards.

 

“Who won?” she enquired.

 

“Erm, no-one yet, it’s a test match, so we are only 20% through the game – it lasts for five days” I explained.

 

Unsure of how to spend our evening, we weighed up the numerous options as we sat in the traffic. As it was a balmy evening, I had the window open, through which I heard the following conversation on the street:

 

“Excuse me sir, would you be interested in a card that gives you 40% off at Pizza Express on days whenever England or Yorkshire are playing at Headingley?” said a very bubbly young lady.

 

“No thanks” said the pedestrian.

 

It sounded too good to be true, especially as PE is GF’s favourite and the Headingley PE is the closest to her home!

 

“Excuse me, I’ll have one please?” I balled out of the window!

 

Highly amused, she trotted across and gave me two, one for luck!

 

My romantic gesture didn’t go amiss; I certainly know how to bowl a maiden over – I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist such an awful pun!

 

The following day, I returned home for an afternoon of sport in front of the TV whilst GF was busy running errands. Whilst I was cooking dinner in anticipation of her arrival, I received the following call from her:

 

“You know the five day test match between England and West Indies?”

 

“Yes” – I was pleased that she’d been listening …

 

“Do all five days take place in Headingley, or does it move around the country?”

 

“Why?”

 

“Because I’m stuck in a massive traffic jam in Headingley!”

 

Undoubtedly enhanced by the wine I’d had whilst cooking, I couldn’t stop laughing at the lovely naivety of such an innocent comment. I know the rules of cricket can be a bit complicated for novices, but I never thought that I’d either have to explain that particular aspect of the game or that it would take on such a key role in my Saturday night!  I guess it’s true; assume nothing – it makes an ass of u and me ….

 

Luckily dinner would keep, unlike the bottle of wine I had opened (after the previously opened one was emptied)!!

A senior moment at the Tower

On Friday GF, the Twits and I travelled down to London predominantly to watch the IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Olympic Stadium. However, I’m not going to focus on the athletics in this post, but instead look at the slightly quirkier blind related events that took place over the weekend, most of which reminded me how nice people can be.  Suffice to say that as expected, the athletics was a great experience and well worth the effort; there really is nothing like being part of an event in which 60,000 other people have invested themselves.

 

On arrival at Stratford Station on Friday afternoon, before entering the Olympic Park we decided to seek out wholesome nourishment at the Westfield Shopping Centre, but thousands of others had the same idea …… Thankfully, as we stood amidst the hungry hoards in search of a table, a youngish man came over and asked if we’d like the table he and his friends were about to vacate – strike one for the white stick!

 

Later, as we approached the gates of the Olympic Stadium, I had the same sick feeling in my stomach as I’d had many times before in similar surroundings. However, this had little to do with the excitement or anxiety associated with the forthcoming performances, but a massive amount to do with the semi-digested remains of the best part of a bucket of KFC which I had devoured whilst GF was queueing for her pizza and salad – no-one should have to see me eat KFC, never mind GF, hence the record breaking time it took me to demolish it!!  As I waddled through the throng, without prompting, a volunteer walked over to us and directed us towards the disabled gate where our transition into the stadium would be accelerated – strike two for the white stick!

 

On Saturday we visited the Tower of London. GF had checked out the website to see how much it was going to cost, and reported that it said nothing about carers being free, but that I would qualify as a concession which would save us £6.

 

“Hi, can we have one adult, a concession for Andy who is blind, and two students please” GF said to the man behind the glass at the ticket office, as I stood next to her smiling politely.

 

“Sorry, it’s difficult to hear you, did you say two students?”

 

“Yes, two please”

 

“Of course, so that’s one adult, one senior and two students, for a total cost of £82 please” he said.

 

The Twits both started laughing at the reference to a senior, but I took it simply as nothing more than the clerk needing to put me through as a senior concession because he didn’t have a disabled option, which has happened on numerous occasions over the years.

 

As GF asked questions about audio commentary and logistics, I unravelled my white stick in preparation to move off. At this point, the clerk suddenly said “oh, erm, oh, I think we can do it a little cheaper for you madam” – hey presto, the price came down to £57 – strike three for the white stick!

 

Whilst I was glad that carers do get in free after all, and especially at the resultant £25 saving, I was less happy to realise that until the clerk realised that I was blind, he must have thought that I was over 60 – cheeky git! As GF thought this was hilarious too, I did point out that it didn’t exactly reflect very well on her either.

 

I can’t comment on the quality of the audio commentary, as we decided instead to rely on the brilliant story telling of the Beefeaters – they really bring the place to life and conjur the most amazing pictures in your mindseye.

 

On Saturday night, after again being directed towards the disabled entrance, a volunteer called Tessa chased after us.

 

“Excuse me, I don’t want to make you feel like I’ve specifically singled you out, but I couldn’t help notice your white stick and wondered if you would like to have a go with a commentary handset which is provided specifically for visually impaired spectators?”

 

As this was the first I had heard of it, I had taken my analogue radio with me in the hope of being able to listen to Radio Five commentary, but as I thought it might be useful for the events which would not be broadcast I took her up on her kind offer. The chap doing the commentary certainly carried out his brief to the letter, presuming of course that his main brief was to describe the kit that the athletes were wearing in great detail, as well as the colour of the javelins that they were throwing!! He seemed to be especially fascinated with the size of the shorts being worn, and the colour of the trainers – those of you who know me well will understand how frustrating I found this …. After all, they’re spikes not trainers!

 

The best thing with the commentary set though was that it relayed what the stadium announcers were saying, which all too often was muffled by the cheers of the overly excited crowd, so it really did add to my enjoyment of the evening – strike four for the white stick!

 

I’ve not even mentioned the fact that on every tube journey we went on I was always offered a seat by an incumbent sitter, but perhaps that was because I look like a senior, rather than because I’m blind??!!

 

However, whilst I returned home thinking how great people are, it did make me think that organisations really do need to do more to publicise what is on offer for visually impaired people. What’s the point of having all this helpful stuff if no-one knows about it?