Archive for July, 2011

Sighted people and attitudes

Ok, so I am not meaning to get at all sighted people. I have good friends and people that are very good to me in terms of helping me out and treating me just as they would like me to treat them but I couldn’t think of a better title for this post so there you go.

I have been thinking of having a rant like this for a while. I actually was going to write a possibly different sort of post after chatting to a friend about similar things last Thursday evening. We were discussing how at times sighted people will assume we will not be able to cope with a certain task because we are blind.

Now, this evening I got a knock at my front door. I actually thought it was my sister as she had been here previously and went to see if she had forgotten something.

I opened the door and at first I was met with silence. Then I knew it was obviously a stranger trying to sell me something or look for something from me.

“Do you live alone,” she asked me and before I said another word she then said “or do you have someone living with you”? I tried to be as calm as I could be and told her that I did live on my own yes and what could I help her with. She then told me that she was from an electricity provider and would I be interested in changing but I immediately told her I was not interested. Now, possibly if I had listened to her a bit longer I could have been tempted with her offer I don’t know but, she obviously didn’t go to sales school. Starting to talk to me in that sort of patronising way will not even start me thinking about the product she is trying to sell me. She had lost my interest straight away.

I have lived on my own here since 2005 like I have said before in a previous post. I get great help from my family when its needed and I am very grateful for that. I think its always great to have the support of family and even close friends as of course there will be times that you might need a bit of help now and again. What I really hate though is for people to be unsure as to how to say something to me about managing something or about how to show me something or that they may doubt my ability to be able to do something without asking me and talking about it with me first.

When I was growing up I did everything that my other brother and sister did and my oldest sister who is also blind did likewise. In fact, it was probably her mobility skills and the way that my parents tried as best to treat her as any other normal child that helped me also. We had bikes and cycled like our other brother and sister. We went horse riding and one summer I even tried my hand at the strawbery picking with my brother but that didn’t really work out.

Now, big deal, I did all that and why am I telling you about it?

I am trying to make the point that I did it cause it was what kids did then. I know at times people were horrified at the thought of me not just sitting at home and listening to the radio all the time cause well, what else could I really do when I couldn’t see but I could handle that at that time. I was still young and thought this won’t really be the same when I get older. Sadly this is not always the case and one persons attitude towards me can really annoy me like that woman earlier. Ask me if its my home or something if you need to do that cause obviously its a waste of time trying to sell me something if I don’t have the authority to make the decision to buy it or not but for anyone that reads this that is dealing with a blind person or just with a person with another disability do not assume that you can not engage with them just because they have a disability.

I don’t mean to exagerate this topic either. I am using an example of a situation to just show how frustrating it can be. If my post on this matter helps people to think or just generates discussion and people quietly learn from it then brilliant!!

My dog Ralph and some Guide Dog info

Well, some people will know of my Guide Dog Ralph from my tweets. if you follow me on twitter but maybe some of you might not have heard of him, so I would like to write a post about him and also just tell you about something that is happening very soon concerning fundraising.

Ralph is my eight year-old Lab Retreaver cross Guide Dog. I don’t have a photo of him to stick up here but at some point soon when I am more sure how to do it and when I actually have a picture of him I will put one up for all to see.

In late 2004 I put the wheels in motion to purchase my house which I am still living in today. I was still rather young at the time and some of my mates thought I was mad to be settling down with a mortgage at that age but I was satisfied that I was making the right decision and I have to say that going through with it was one of the best things that I have done. I needed independence. Where I was brought up was out in the countryside. I loved the area and still do, but I couldn’t get from a to b independently on my own even with Ralph with me so the only thing for it was to move closer to town and to where I would have access to shops and pubs and restaurants and cinemas and other amenities like that which I could use and not have to depend on people to take me where I needed to go all the time.

The house purchase was completed in February 2005 and myself and Ralph moved in. This was when we just took off on our own adventure. We had been commuting too and from Dublin for work on a daly basis and were living at my parents house. This was a two hours round trip for us which started with my mother taking us to Carlow train station by car. I was now lucky in that I had purchased my home close enough to the station that I could walk there and back with Ralph and we had everything close at hand. He was still rather young at the time but he was very relaxed and mature and enjoyed this new challenge and loved getting out and about learning new routes around the town. Having grown up here apart from the time I went away to attend school I was delighted to learn more routes by myself and be able to get too and from places that I wouldn’t have been able to do on my own before.

I can only use the word fantastic to describe what it feels like to me walking around with Ralph while he is working. He loves it and is so prowd and confident in what he does and he really shows it also. I just feel that I can see because I am guided around obstacles that I wouldn’t have known were there and because I am not walking along tapping a cane around to find things to bump into or make contact with before getting on with my journey again. I can go at the same speed as anyone else while walking and I am a quick walker. My direction also certainly is more acute with him also. I am not sure why this is. I think it is because we just walk around at a normal speed and also it might be something in how Ralph is trained to walk in a straight line and stop at the edge of a kerb when he can’t go any further and wait for more instructions from me.

At home he is also a great companion to me in the house and I never feel alone with him here. Our friendship is not like the human kind so people saying that he must be my best friend does annoy me at times. I have plenty of friends and some very good and supportive close ones. Just because a blind person has a Guide Dog doesn’t mean this dog is automatically their best friend in the world. I do love him yes and have some great chats with him but he can’t talk back. Now, if he could he would tell me to shut up I just know he would haha.

I am not going to go into the responsibilities of having Ralph and how he has to be looked after and stuff in this post. I wanted to just give you a sense of what he means to me and what its like for me to have the independence that he gives. My good friend Jen does a great job of topics Guide Dog related on her blog and I would recommend you all check it out. If you are a music lover like myself she might even interest you with her musical postings also. Her latest post at the time of me writing this one refers to Darragh and his post Thanks Freddie which he wrote about his retired dog Freddie. This post that Darragh wrote got great attention from people and when you read it you will understand why.

My main reason for writing this post came about over a week ago when I was asked to write a peace for Quinn’s blog to just talk about myself and Ralph. This peace is being used in a post about a head shave which is taking place in Kerry at the end of this month. Apparently one of Quinn’s owners is getting all his hair shaved off and all proceeds will go to Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind. Do check it out and if you can at all give a few quid towards this very worthy event. A big Thanks must go to all Quinn’s Kerry family for their hard work and dedication to Irish Guide Dogs. As a Guide Dog owner I think I can say on behalf of other Guide Dog owners a huge thank you to you all and keep up the great work.

A good reaction and radio interview

Ok, so anyone reading this latest post will correctly observe that it was this night last week that I wrote the previous one. I am not going to just write on Wednesdays either. It just came about that way. The object here is to try and write as much as I can about what is happening with me and my music so that people can get to know me and also to get to know what I choose to share about myself.

Anyway, before I continue with the point of this post I would like to thank those people that sent me comments on my last post. It was nice that you took the trouble to read and give me feedback. I welcome comments from people and at least I know that if you are commenting then I am not just writing to myself.

Mostly Saturdays are usually days of relaxation for me. Well, the mornings certainly are anyway. However, last Saturday I needed to meet my friend Stuart as we needed to practice for a wedding that we are playing at this Saturday. So, this meant an early enough start for myself and Ralph from Carlow.

In complete contrast to most of today, last Saturday morning was a lovely bright sunny one and I had debated bringing a jacket with me in case it rained but I was glad afterwards that I didn’t.

We arrived at Stuart’s apartment mid morning somewhere after 11:00 and got the practice out of the way for the Wedding. I brought along my new CD for Stuart to listen too. Stuart broadcasts an internet radio show every Saturday on hkc radio where he does a mixed bag of a programme. Sometimes he will have guests on the show with him and other times he just has features which he has prepared and then usually just bits and peaces of chatter about entertainment and things that are catching his interest at the time of the show. He decided to review my tracks on the show after hearing them for the first time. He seemed genuinely impressed with them and, knowing Stuart as I do I knew that the musical arrangements would certainly be something that he would observe.

After some lunch we headed into the studio to start the show. We had a late start for reasons beyond our control. I was amazed at the reaction of the people who listened to the tracks. While talking to Stuart we were both getting messages from the listeners saying how much they liked what they were hearing and just generally saying that they were enjoying the show. It was nice to have some friends listening to support me also.

Ok, so this particular interview was not the most serious one I have ever done and it certainly was good fun to do. Myself and Stuart go back a long way so when I sit in a studio with him and talk to him I forget that we are actually really broadcasting a show and that lots of people will be listening to it. Its just like two friends having a bit of fun really. I like that though. Its natural and its not stuffy or anything. I don’t know if we made the best of radio presentations and after hearing the podcast I said to myself, jesus, did I really sound as bad as that? Anyway, we all say things like that about ourselves when we hear back interviews or recordings of ourselves so it probably was grand. You can actually hear a podcast of the show by visiting Stuart’s site and look for the latest one. He podcasts all of his shows and shur why not check him out on hkc every Saturday from 3:00 to 5:00 in the afternoon. And that is Irish and UK time for anyone reading this from other countries. Thank you Stuart for reviewing my tracks on your show.

As I write, my site is starting its overhall and over the next while there will be changes to it. I will tweet and blog about all of this when it happens.

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