Life seldom turns out in the way we imagine it will.
I didn’t set out to write about living with a sight impairment. I set out to write the definitive English novel or possibly a stage play to rival Chekov. Both of these things are harder than they look. I have a hard drive stuffed with bad poetry, half finished novels and plays, so I know this with certainty.
My friend Joanna Lewis writes a newspaper column and she encouraged me to try the column as a format. Joanna’s encouragement coincided with becoming the Chair of Trustees of a sight loss charity, Vision Foundation, which got me thinking about my own experiences. I started to write them down and shared them with Joanna and my friend, children’s author, Maria Farer, as well as director and teacher Chris Head. They all encouraged me to keep writing.
I am so grateful for this encouragement because I love recounting these stories and I’ve really got a kick out of developing the way I tell them. People say they make them laugh at the same time as challenging their ideas about living with sight loss. That gives me such a thrill.
The Flatmate and The Best Friend have also been hugely helpful and have bravely put up with tasting my offerings before they were launched on an unsuspecting public. Siobhain Santry has brought my stories to life with her hugely witty illustrations. We have laughed non-stop since we began our collaboration.
These blind truths are not a deep exploration of the big issues that blind and partially sighted people face, but rather they are “of them”. I have chosen to describe the minutiae of daily life in a way that I hope will give an insight. There are far more stories to tell than appear here and there are many topics to explore which I have not even touched on.
When you read these Blind Truths, I hope you will laugh, chuckle and wince. I hope that they will get you thinking about how we could do things differently. With the best will in the world I will always be a “blinky”, but a lot of the challenges I, and others like me face, are thrown up, ironically enough, by society’s lack of vision.
With the exception of my family, the people I write about are not identified. I have had to cook the odd supper and eat the odd humble pie when some of the cast have read about themselves. I’m sorry, in advance, if I upset anyone beyond those I have already upset and have said sorry to. I am lucky enough to have the most wonderful friends to laugh with and moan at, and I thank everyone who has had to suffer me and my jottings.
If I had to name one overriding personal resource of living the best life possible when you can’t see, I’d say it’s resilience. Luckily I had a Mother who taught me that. I think about her, and the sound of her laughter, when I write about my Blind Truths. In some ways she lives on through the things she taught me. I owe her everything.