There are a few unavoidable complications to being blind. Aside from the agony of wardrobe choice and having to learn how to negotiate high heels in the equivalent of a blackout there is the identity of certain common or garden things that stubbornly remain a mystery to me.
Unidentified objects have a habit of turning up where they shouldn't, a tin of cat food instead of kidney beans in my chilli, thanks to the supermarket's irrepressible desire to reshuffle their shelves, leaving me to play blind man's bluff with the culinary content of my basket and roulette with the stomach content of my dinner party guests.
There is also the delight of identifying the ever elusive hand basin in the vast no man's land of 'the disabled toilet'. Thank you Aberdeen airport for providing that cunningly placed urinal for dwarfs, with that little soap at the bottom...
Putting the unfortunate mistaken identity of certain objects in my life to one side, I have to say that being blind reveals more hidden treasures and triumphs than trials and tribulations when it comes to the identity of people. My perception of others is blindfolded to that visual 'first impression', which can overlook so much, although I can hear a pair of Jimmy Choos coming at 20 paces, all be them unbeknown to me, worn by a transvestite!
For me identity cannot be cloaked in what someone wears, the colour of their skin,their age or religious inclination. A stranger to me is a blank canvas upon which they have the possibility to paint their individuality through words and actions without the 'artistic critique' of preconception. My blindness affords me the inability to prejudge. The logos of modern day life cannot label a person, the smokescreen of wealth cannot enrich a character nor the poverty of someone's appearance cheapen it. I have wrestled with what should have been the 'sweetest of grannies' and been rescued by what should have been 'the toughest of nuts', leaving me to suggest trust your insight not your sight.
I am frequently mistakenly identified as something that I am not... sighted! Despite the rather large visual clue of the black labradoodle clad in a brightly yellow harness at my side, my appearance doesn't seem to conform to societies preconception of what a blind person should look like. Apparently the blind should not wear any article of clothing within the parameters of recent fashion, should only wear sensible shoes... and certainly not high heels or Tom Ford sunglasses. My apparel and simple fact that I haven't put my clothes on back to front often confuses some of the 'sighted folk', leaving Uffa and I being asked for directions in the street, to take photographs of grinning tourists and more recently to give the casting vote at the prize giving at a film festival in France. I only sat in the front row in a vain attempt to gauge a glimpse, only kept my sunglasses on as the screen was so bright, but I think the compere thought I was more bling than blind, and mistook me for one of the jury. I must apologise to the director that should have won and congratulate the one that did by default.
Glam or grim, don't be disabled by vision, blinded by sight, see what lies beneath and you might just walk off with first prize.
Uffington trusts in scratch and sniff, my sense of smell never lets me down.
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