Thurber wrote on black paper using thick white crayon and then white paper using thick black crayon. Three years ago the size font I used on my computer was 14 now it is 20. I have an intense sensitivity to light and in summer I wear sunglasses where ever I go, now that winter is drawing close and the light is grey and flat I can open the curtains and potter in the garden without having to wear them. I also have some strange distortions which Thurber had and like him I have found they do have a comic side to them. I live in a world of Impressionist painting colours where the blue and yellow and gold are so vivid they drown all the other colours. I can’t register red on black or black on red, I have lost that part of the spectrum so I can’t see notice boards on train stations or those electronic notices which tell you the time the bus is arriving, it is extraordinary how many notices are in red and black but they don’t exist for me so I just take pot luck. The last time I did that I stood on a platform in the middle of a field waiting for the train to Chirk while an announcement in Welsh asked me not to smoke on the platform or stand near the edge, presumably the train company had past experiences with passengers losing the will to live and throwing themselves on the track. My back was pulsing with agony but there was nowhere to sit and I had no way of knowing how long I had to wait for the train, thankfully it was only 15 minutes.
And pot luck is what you have to take if you are disabled and want to travel. Every journey I take is researched and organised as if I was going to invade Russia. I am very lucky in Newport which has a modern train station and is completely accessible for a mobility scooter so is Cardiff and I can visit Cardiff, Bristol, Bristol Parkway and London quite easily but the majority of stations are not accessible at all or partially accessible which is a wonderful phrase that means you can visit but you can never leave, because while one platform is okay the other platform can only be reached by stairs, lots of stairs and if you are foolish enough to pitch up at that station without researching its facilities you will be stranded. I have heard some grim stories about disabled people trying to make journeys; one person had to throw their wheelchair from the train onto the platform and then crawl after it because there were no staff around to help her exit the carriage, imagine scrabbling around on a filthy platform in a smart business suit because even though this station was supposed to be disability friendly in reality that was not the case. My thinking about these problems came about because I want to go to a village called Lechlade on Thames and view a canal boat I want to buy. This town doesn’t have a train station so I don’t need to worry about stairs or ramps but it doesn’t have a bus service either and the advice is to get a taxi from Swindon to visit this “delightful river side hamlet”. I can walk with a walking stick so if I followed this guidance I would need to take a train or coach to Swindon and then catch a taxi. This sounds easy but how long is the train platform that I have to walk down before you reach the street, how far would I have to walk to get a taxi, are there any seats I can sit on when the pain in my spine gets really bad and worst of all how many steps to navigate. The whole thing becomes a nightmare which makes me say fine I will order a car from my local cab company and make the entire journey with them in comfort, the only drawback is cost; the last time I did that cost me £250 round trip to Shropshire, again to see a boat. I can afford that but how many people can and why should they?
The other problem I have is ridiculous but I can’t always understand what I am seeing, it is called the “Charles Bonet Syndrome”. The closest thing I can use to explain it are those funny little pictures which start out as a young woman and then resolve themselves into an old woman, what you see is not what you get – I once thought a bag of recycling waiting for the rubbish collection was a person lying ill on the pavement outside my house, I rushed out my front door before it became clear to me what it was. You become very unsure of yourself and question what is real especially when it affects words and you get a form of dyslexia where the letters don’t make any sense, I have found the best way to deal with this distorted world is to sit quietly and wait for everything to resolve itself, I say “wait for it to resolve” a lot. Fortunately I have a black sense of humour which makes jokes about myself, who but me could see a plastic bag caught on a neighbour’s chimney pot and be convinced it was a small person in a red jumper about to leap from the roof and seriously think I should ring the emergency services? While I wait for “it” to be resolved I find I have time to think about all kinds of issues which go into my work and I can “consider how my light is spent”.