Friday, 13 May 2011

The kindness of others

The response to my first post was very interesting.  To some extent some friends have been probably searching for both the blog and the tweets.  I’m not sure of some of the tweets. 

There was an interesting blog on the US elections in the Guardian by Mehdi Hasan about the need for a left Democrat to help in the triangulation of Obama.  I don’t know what you thought, but I entered my first political # tag debate and had some very interesting responses from John McTernan, who writes in The Scotsman.  We were exchanging remarks within this forum about concepts such as ‘blue Labour’ and ‘red Tories’.  We both thought the labels were a bit daft.  Funnily mine are a bit daft as, though I can just about differentiate blue and yellow, red and green look much the same to me.   The use of colours in politics is even more daft.  Anyway, thank you John McTernan for engaging and being patient when I lost the odd message.  

It’s been fun on Twitter and I can see why it is so addictive; but I think it’s ideal for blind people who use words very carefully, if not telegraphically, as sometimes it puts a strain on the kind friend who types up the meat of the blog and has to suffer blogger, the internet and a certain supplier of software.  

I was telling people about my trip to the National Gallery last Saturday and even someone in the Art world couldn’t imagine a blind person being shown the sizes of the coffee cups in such an imaginative way.  I think we all agreed that the very kind treatment to a blind person must be in both the training and the DNA of the organisation.  Our discussions reminded me of a very pleasant trip I made by train to Chichester, West Sussex, in the south of England last summer.  Again, a kind friend filled in a voucher which I found on a Transport for London (TfL) disability website.  This was a special offer which needed minimum planning and no penalty for a no-show.  This is ideally suited for some of us who often miss a connection or get in the wrong part of the train or even the wrong train.  

In Chichester, I went to the Cathedral and had a fantastic visit without pre-planning as they had a tactile model of the building and someone explained items which I could find for myself or if I had wanted I could have joined a tour.  When I came back to the entrance I was asked if I had enjoyed the trip and had I made anything out of the Chagall window.  To be honest, I hadn’t ‘noticed’ the window but was taken back and could make out some of the colours with the help of an interested volunteer at the Cathedral who it turned out was a Reader in the Church of England.  So top marks to Chichester Cathedral. 

My other illustration of an act of kindness was in Pallant House in Chichester, which has interesting art collections and some fascinating bits of furniture you can actually touch!  Again a very kind receptionist staff found someone to explain parts of the museum and even took me to the restoration area with all the pieces of art in storage being cleaned and catalogued.  This is a case of another gallery not being phased by a blind man walking in off the street, who is familiar with some aspects of the art world but lacks the insight into the ‘form’ of the work.  I did say that I was interested in logical things for the blind and you will be pleased to hear that I have a few trainspotting tales to tell.  I am closing this post a big thanks to all my friends who somehow put up with unexpected ‘demands’ to do something and while they might raise an eyebrow, they are patient and kind, as are to be fair many who run some of our private and public sectors.