Middle age can be a productive time in a woman’s life. Who knows what the meaning of productive is. Is being productive the same as being busy? No. Is being creative the same as being productive? I hope so. I feel in a creative phase.

Doing new things mean learning new skills, so I’ve been scouring the internet to see what learning opportunities there might be for me to develop some of those skills. I settled on a course but before I signed up, I thought I had better give the Well Loved Institution, hosting the course, a call to check that learning materials would be accessible.

A person who sounded as if she was still in bed asked if she could help me. Her tone reassured that what she really meant was “Yeah. What do you want idiot? You’re disturbing me.” I explained that before signing on the dotted line, I wanted to check on the arrangement for accessible course materials because I am registered blind. There was a bit of argy bargy on where to find the course code she needed before she could answer the question. “I’m looking at that page on your site,” I said. “Whereabouts on it will I find the course code?”

“Ehh the internet,” she yawned.

I repeated the reason for my call and she said, “We don’t do courses for the blind. We only do courses for deaf people.” I tried again.  ” We only do courses for deaf people. You could do a lip reading course.”

Giving careful consideration to my response for slightly less time than it took me to inhale, I said, ” I think lip reading for blind people could be a bit of a stretch.”

“Alright,” she said and put the phone down.

I contemplated calling back to make a snide remark but decided against it because I was clearly the better person in this exchange.

Now, the Well Loved Institution has a reputation to uphold so I paid my £199 in the hope that by its completion I will be an upgraded version of myself. Back came the reply that I was in, swiftly followed by a second email telling me what the evacuation procedures are for sight impaired and disabled students.  We are to make our way to the clearly signed assembly point next to the lift on the first floor and wait for help to arrive.

Even if I could read the clearly marked assembly point sign, hanging about in a burning building waiting for help to arrive does not appeal. I get that on aeroplanes it’s every man for themselves and anyone who can’t operate the escape hatch or who can’t see enough to work out what’s going on might stop other people from getting out, so I accept that I get to sit where I won’t get in the way in the event of having to jump. But seriously? The best the Well Loved Institution has to offer is to direct blind people to a clearly marked assembly point and wait for help.

Learning new skills is always an adventure. Learning to apply those skills means that you have to be prepared to take a chance in life. What’s the worst that can happen? I might make a fool of myself. I might not enjoy myself. It’s unlikely I’ll get burned in the process, so I’m not worrying about fire.

Not enough people have signed up for the course so the Well Loved Institution is giving me my money back. I’ve signed up for an on line course, between 7-9 on Tuesdays. I got the concessionary rate and I can lie in bed while I expand my mind.