Saturday, 19 September 2009


Obfuscate Series: 'Shadow dance' (c)T. Bush 2008

There is a tiny woman with nicotine-blonde, over-curly hair in the side-alley ahead of me. She seems unsure of which pavement to go to and is turning around and around on herself in the middle of the road. She spots me over the roof of the parked cars and immediately her small gnarled face lights up. She leaps forward, forcing me to slow and stop then stoops slightly as if bowing.

‘Isn’t the weather lovely?’ she says in a bright rehearsed voice.

I am about to agree with her. The sun is indeed glorious. We've been walking happily for hours and sweat is trickling down between my shoulder blades but the woman suddenly notices Grace and sways as if struck. She peers up at me with wide, red-rimmed eyes for a moment and then says with a curt nod. ‘Oh but never mind. You’re blind.’

‘I’m not.’ I retort hotly then sigh feeling like a plonker in my huge dark glasses and sporting a very fashionable guide dog.

‘OK just a bit’ I acquiesce about to launch into a lengthy explanation about the difference between visual impairment and blindness and why even disabled people can enjoy the bloody weather and...…. but the strange, sepia lady has spied another couple of pedestrians turning into the alley and immediately, fearless for her life, has leapt back into the road and is stalking them like some bizarre little bouffant mongoose. In the very same bright tone I hear her from behind as she blocks their path
‘Isn’t the weather lovely?’
(image from internet)

‘Ah.’ I say to Grace. ‘She’s bonkers.’
Grace looks at me.
‘Well I’m not totally blind..,’ I mutter narrowly missing the lamppost Grace is trying to pull me around. . ‘Hardy at all in good light actually.’
‘Bonkers is as bonkers does,’ wags Grace’s tail.

(c) Gary Larson

Sunday, 13 September 2009

A Few Days Ago.

It is very still and dark and I am deep beneath my duvet, awake but only just. In the living room I can hear the dog’s medallion tinkle against her collar as she stirs. I hear her clamber out of her bed and shake herself. Next the clicking scratch of her toe nails on the bamboo mat in the little corridor. I can’t see her but I feel her move into the bedroom, sighing in the darkness and after a pause the soggy, well-chewed, soft-toy bunny is shoved lovingly onto the pillow and into my face. Its her way of saying ‘I love ya but I gotta pee’.

Its 5am and I can’t find my clogs.

Its cool outside but without the slightest chill; plumb pigeons stir uneasily in their sleep as they are goosed by wild little eddies of warm wind which whip in and out of the elder trees lining the fence.

Behind me to the East, the dark night has split at the horizon like an overripe fig, purple skin tearing apart to reveal a fragment of soft white, red and pink.
Above my head, hanging over the concrete dog-run, is the moon; brim full of reflected light, glistening and so full and heavy to my eyes it bleeds wet, gold, glitter into the surrounding night.

It is wonderful; I seem to have come outside into the very place where ancient earth magik is brewing. The monstrous moon reaches out and attempts to grab me by the back of my neck. I hold my breath and am aware Grace too has stopped circling to find the best place in the run to relieve herself. Now she stares upwards, alert, her hackles raised. I don’t think either of us would blink if Aslan leapt over the fence from next-door’s garden or an ancient hobgoblin hissed from the flowerbed.

‘A quest!’ I think, my eleven-year-old child leaping from my chest with the strength of hundred thousand wishes. ‘I am to be given a quest.’

Suddenly a police siren goes off in the distance and Grace yawns loudly, squats and pees. I flinch, duck away from the lunatic moon’s blinding shining and following the steady dog back inside, into the half lit house and am back in my warm bed in under 60 seconds…

But I dream.

Sunday, 6 September 2009


The dog’s kennel is not the place to keep a sausage.
Danish proverb

I feel stronger. The sun has made a resurgence this week and even if the light is slowly leaching away from each day, this warmth and high, blue sky has been a brief reprise. Friends have reminded me of how winter can be inspiring and cosy; good for long boots and classic clothing. I am soothed. I have a stock pile of scarfs and socks. (Note potential winter hat!)

And there has been good news.

I am finally nearly possibly definitely maybe positive that I shall get a chance to go and do the Creative Writing MA at Bath Spa University. You have NO idea how complicated it has been to even get to the point of ‘fairly’ as opposed to ‘faintly’ possible. It has involved endless phone calls to the Department of Work and Pensions, rather uncomfortable ‘Disabled Student Assessments’ run ins with my bank, tears, tantrums and finally I am green lit. Sort of. Ish. If the local benefits agency decide to refuse me they will let me know about 6 weeks after the term has started. Ho hum. But I am EXCITED and life has purpose once more!

I have to thank my family, especially my Dad and my Mum (and extended family Susan, John, Hattie, Pol, Hannah, blogger pals and those on fb!) for their support and love with all this. I would have given up long ago without you!

So I am preparing! I shall have to commute between Cambridge and Bath going up at the weekend and coming back midweek. (I’m still looking for a cheap room in Bath..anyone got any ideas? If we don't find anything we will sleep rough and Grace will have to get used to pooping down deserted alleys when no one is looking. )

Talking of Grace I took her to my pole dancing class on Friday. I have been going into that gym for months and never a peep from the chaps behind reception as I walked through with dark glasses and cane...but last Friday, as I clumsily clambered through the doors hanging onto Grace, they leapt up horribly perturbed.

‘Can I HELP you?’ Yelled one spotty youth pointing accusingly at the dog and me.
I realised that he did not recognise me at all. He thought a blind woman had wandered into the gym by accident.

I pointed at Grace. ‘It’s her fault.’ I said. ‘She’s taking the pole dance class tonight. Gotta follow the dog...'

The youth swallowed and then gagged a small smile and nodded a curt ‘carry on then’, managing to look outraged, aghast and mollified at the same time.

Grace was a little anxious at first watching us jiggle around and then do funny things on silver poles but after half an hour she fell asleep. It wasn’t very flattering to hear her snore through the routines but she seemed happy.

As we left I glanced right but reception was empty. Then I realised that for the first time this year we were leaving into darkness. The end of summer had caught up with us and I had not even thought ahead. For me the outside of the gym felt like walking into a cafetiere of filter coffee before the plunger plunges; a thick, treacherous, darkness and I was frightened.

‘Hell,’ I thought. ‘I haven’t got my cane with me. I have a ruck sake and now added to this I have a BLOODY DOG to look after.….’ and then it sunk in at last. I have Grace and she is a GUIDE DOG.

All this time and I have been using my residual daytime vision and now there weren't no daylight! For the first time for real I had to give it up to her.

‘Steady,’ I whispered to her unsteadily as we stepped into the gritty night.

I slackened my grip, relaxed my left hand so I could feel her gentle pull on the harness and follow her as she moved adeptly right, left towards the lights of the underpass.


Back at the flat I filled her dog bed with toys and chews as she yawned and rolled her eyes.
She had not a clue as to what the fuss was about.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The Other Dog

I have two black dogs at the mo. This one is doing great. (I love her. A LOT. She works a dog! She is just fab!)

But the other one has me by the throat and is shaking me hard. I have tried to write it away here but I can't. I am overwhelmed, flea ridden with anxiety and already autumn is biting when my entire summer seems to have been spent in a hotel room in March.

I am out of whack, off colour, too blue. It keeps welling up ..salt water through my capillaries. Salination I believe.... If people ask me how I am, even in the queue at post office...tears rise up and make me blink. Most embarrassing. With the constant leaking I am beginning to rust.

Meeeooowww. I miss old friends. I miss my colur vision. I miss my cats Pyewacket, Milligan and Small cat who I had to leave behind in Zambia. I miss romance. I miss my old Daewoo. I miss not missing shit.

But I know this is just 'seasonal adjustment.' I don't do well in the upcoming dark and cold and this is the equivalent of winter PMS. Pre Murky Season Syndrome. Plus it has been hard to stay up beat and perky these last few months. And now a reaction to 'perk' is natural. I will be back to my old self shortly.
In the meantime here are a couple more pictures of the mutt to make you smile whilst I locate mine again.
I WILL be back shortly!!