I’ve been to Gateshead, where despite the chill winds, skirts are still high. Northern women are tough, resilient to the elements but not without a soft side.

The receptionist at check-in asked me to verify my details on the bit of card they always hand you. I said that I’d be grateful if she could read it to me. She asked me if I needed my glasses. I said I didn’t as they wouldn’t help, but if she could read the card to me that would definitely do the trick. She leant over the counter and read my address to me in hushed tones, which was thoughtful given that the assembled throng was milling about at close quarters.

Check in complete, she said, ” I hope you don’t mind me asking. Are you partially sighted or blind?” I explained that I can see but I’m registered blind. She said it was incredible because I was looking right at her. I said it was all in the training.

“How sad,” she said and leant over the desk and squeezed my hand.” Never mind, we are here now and we’ll look after you.”

Resisting the temptation to poke her in the eye with a white stick, I asked if someone could show me to my room. Matthew appeared.

“Alright? You wanna elbow?’

“I’ll just follow on,” I said and off we set.

Matthew was a natural. He offered to give me a tour of my hotel room. It was well worth it. I have never had such good instruction on how to use the remote control. I’m challenged enough by my own remote control. It’s been in my clutches for more than four years now and I still don’t know which button does what.

Matthew gave me lessons in the use of the remote that I would’ve benefited from a lifetime ago. Who knew that my hotel room could offer the delights of instant switching between news on the telly and news on the radio. I’m addicted to the news. It offers all the escapism of a soap opera, just the right light touch of political analysis when my eye lids are drooping, and more information about sport than I feel is necessary to keep me awake.

“I’ll draw the remote on a piece of paper with all the details for you”

Why have I never thought of that?

“You can call me if you get stuck,” he said.

I usually resist the urge to call a friend. Friendship can be tested by these kinds of demands at 10pm. 10pm is the best bit of the day, for news hounds, forced to chose between news streaming on just about every medium. It’s also the moment when my news enthusiasm is bound to result in a bit of channel hopping. Inevitably, I go fifty fifty on the which button does what, and end up disabling the entire system as sleep is upon me.

Every hotel room should be blessed with a large laminate instruction on what the remote control has to offer. It might prove instructive to the people next door, who seem to follow me from hotel to hotel, and have their own troubles in operating the the volume button on their remote control.

As I lay in bed, I pondered the possibility of giving Matthew a quick call to ask him if he could pop next door to offer my neighbours some assistance or possibly draw them a picture of sleep deprivation.

Having bottled it, I had to resign myself to other people’s late night viewing, which offered just the right balance of football commentator excitement and crowd enthusiasm to keep me awake well into extra time.