Sunday, 29 January 2012


Just on a whim, I set myself the task of going downstairs into the kitchen, making myself a cup of coffee, and returning to this room. The challenge was to do it with my eyes closed.

I had a cup on the desk next to me, whichI'd already picked up before I thought of doing this. Then I walked to the top of the stairs.

No problem. I can walk in the dark. I walked down the stairs with my eyes closed too. Even the curve at the bottom was negotiated with a minimum of bother.

The hall was slightly more tricky because there is some flatpacked furniture stacked against the left hand wall as you head towards the kitchen. I stumbled into this slightly and had to use my left hand to locate the wall and orientate myself.

And so through the kitchen door and into the kitchen.

I walked over to the corner where the kettle is and wafted my hand in front of me. I quickly found the corner of the microwave. I pressed the door release to confirm and the microwave started up.

I opened my eyes and looked. Using a microwave without anything in it might not be good for it. After opening the door properly and closing it again to stop it from operating, I closed my eyes again and moved a bit to the right. I knocked into something that wasn't a kettle and opened my eyes again because whatever it was wobbled.

Just a bottle. I closed my eyes and tried again.

This time I found the kettle. It felt weighty when my hand knocked against it. Good. This would mean I wouldn't have to pick it up and try to find the sink, with its tap. I picked it up from its base and confirmed that it had more than enough water in it for a cup of coffee. I found the switch at the top of the handle and switched it on.

Now then. Coffee.

The coffee is in a jar to the left. There are many other jars to the left too. A jar of decaff. An empty jar that should probably be in the recycling bag. Other jars and bottles and packets of cordial, ketchup, salad dressing, etc. I reached out and knocked something, and again opened my eyes, fearful of knocking something over and causing breakage/spillage.

Since my eyes were open anyway, I found the correct coffee jar before closing them again.

I unscrewed the lid. Normally, I don't use a spoon. I just pour what looks like about the right amount into my cup. I generally like it strong anyway. But how could I measure how much to put in now?

I tilted the jar and brought it to the edge of the cup. Carefully. A bit of a shake, and I could hear the coffee granules moving. The noise of the rapidly warming kettle was making it difficult to judge.

I put the coffee jar down and shook the cup. A tiny sliding noise revealed only a few individual granules had migrated from jar to cup. I tried again. No coffee was added. I tried once more. This time, a little more coffee was sliding around the bottom of the cup. It didn't sound like anything like enough.

I opened my eyes and looked. There were perhaps 9 or 10 granules in the cup. I poured my usual dose and closed my eyes.

Now, how to line up spout of kettle with middle of cup? I had my right hand on the cup, and I'd picked up the kettle in my left hand (I'm left handed) but I didn't want to keep my right hand on the cup in case I missed, and poured boiling water over my hand.

Well OK. I'd cross that bridge when I came to it. How about something easier?

Get the milk out of the fridge. I tried to find the opening edge of the fridge, but again brushed agaisnt something that wobbled glassily and opened my eyes instinctively, so that I wouldn't break or spill anything. The bottle of cordial is an elongated cone in shape, and fairly difficult to overturn, but I wasn't taking any chances. I found the fridge door and closed my eyes, groping around in the back of the door for a bottle of milk.

I found one. It felt heavy. the lid seemed to be on.

Was there another bottle, already open? Further groping revealed several things. A plastic bottle that I decided was almost certainly salad cream. Another that I seemed to remember contained brown sauce. Then another glass bottle. This one was lighter, and the foil lid was scrunched and dented.

I picked it up and took it over to the work surface near the kettle and the cup with it's coffee. Then I put the milk bottle down.

I picked up the kettle again, and was still faced with the task of putting the correct amout of scaldingly hot water into a cup that I couldn't see.

At this point, I gave up.

We have a sort of alarm thing for the bath. It hangs down into the bath, and when the water level rises high enough, it covers two contacts and creates a circuit, which then activates a piercing alarm. Presumably there is some kind of device that blind people can put into their mug so that they can tell when they've put the right amount of water in.

We use our eyes an incredible amount. If I ever do go blind, I will have to be incredibly well organised, or I won't be able to do even the simplest of things for myself.

driving lessons in Wallasey?

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