I felt I had hit a bit of a low when I experienced a prick of jealousy when my brother told me he and my sister-in-law were going to the vet to get flea powder for their cats!
Some visually-impaired people are having to go out to work or shop, or to walk their guide dogs, but I am effectively stuck at home. You can’t safely distance from others when you can’t see, and I feel that it would be antisocial to put someone else at risk by asking them to act as my guide. In consequence, apart from my mini-adventure going to the doctor’s surgery a few weeks ago, the furthest I have been from my property since the start of lockdown was to step outside my front gate with a bag of recycling.
I can’t tell you how grateful I am that I have a garden, so that I can at least get some fresh air.
It’s all very different from my schooldays, when I used to grumble heartily at being forced to go outdoors for exercise every day, whatever the weather. What was I thinking of?
Well, I know why really. No schoolgirl wants to pointlessly walk to a T-junction in the rain. The irony is that I would take that now, certainly if the rain wasn’t too heavy!
“What T-junction?” I hear you ask.
Let me explain, though you’ll have to wait till next week before I get to the T-junction!
When you go to boarding school like I did, you don’t have to travel to and from school each day. How, then, do the teachers ensure that their pupils get regular fresh air and exercise?
My school’s answer was to throw them out of the building every weekday morning between breakfast and assembly on what we all used to refer to as “garden ex,” “ex” in this case being short for “exercise.”
In practice, this meant wandering round the school grounds for half-an-hour. On cold days, we used to lurk in the boiler house or summerhouse but at least we got some fresh air on the way to and from these hidey-holes.
On weekday afternoons, we went on “walk” for an hour between lunch and the recommencement of lessons at ten-to-three.
This was also how we learnt mobility.
At the start of our first year, we went on “croc”, which was our abbreviation for “crocodile”. This involved pairing up and following a teacher for a short walk around the lanes near school.
We soon, however, embarked on learning different routes. We were each allocated to a senior pupil, who would teach us the way, and we would then be tested by a member of staff.
The first test involved walking down the back drive, following the grass verge (there were no pavements in our immediate vicinity), and then walking up the front drive of the school. We then had to do the route in reverse.
This is where I got into trouble.
This version of the route involved the additional challenge of crossing a road. We had to go to a certain point and then cross over and walk up to the entrance to the back drive. Back then, I could still see a little and when I spotted the opening to the drive I started to cross over to it.
I was summarily summoned back.
Crossing over as soon as I saw the entrance, I had walked diagonally across the road, meaning that I spent longer than necessary exposing myself to the potential danger of being knocked down. That was when I learned the important lesson of safety first.