Country of the Blind

Radio 4 extra have just broadcast a play that is three HG Wells short-stories in one. Two are fables, but the ‘Country of the Blind’ could be a fable or an analogy of any confirmed viewpoint’s inability to see something truly a new. It’s one that leads to an idea of balance: where the line is between what should be challenged and what should be accepted, and why each person believes this line to differ.

This appears to be a link to the whole story:

The synopsis is that someone stumbles into a country where everyone has been blind for generations, but have forgotten sight and adapted completely. He thinks that he can rule as he is the only sighted person so has an advantage. He discovers that they have adapted so absolutely that he is disadvantaged. He also discovers that as there is no concept of ‘sight’ they cannot comprehend what he is describing, believe he is unwell and set out to permanently ‘cure’ him to make him happy.

An analogy of the over-reliance on old, proven science at the expense of embracing and testing new ideas that may question it? After all, testing is what science is about…

And of believing that a perceived advantage is the automatic right to succeed?

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Picture this

‘Cluttering’ and ‘hoarding’ are subjective terms.

They are now also clinical terms used in mental health.

They speak of a happenstance of history, of what happens when a generation born after a war, brought up on rationing, then grows to be the most materially wealthy and healthy ever to have lived. They have it programmed into them to be discard an item while there is still worth or use to it is evil and they have oh so many items.

Hoarding itself occurs when the life that is behind appears happier than what is ahead. The future is frightening or simply unknown, while the things of now and yesterday are comforting reminders of happier times and times that mattered. And then it all gets too much, there’s too much to deal with, the shame of the state of the place means no one can ask for help and the person withdraws and disappears. At least one council has realised this isn’t a choice and is being proactive.

There is a nine-point scale, with anything beyond ‘4’ a problem.

The first clinical question, which allows people to see what this actually looks like, is, “On entering the house, do you have to move something in order to sit down?

While tidying up two months ago before visitors, I dropped a bunch of picture frames. One set was from family. Another was a picture that had hung on my wall for twenty years. I cut my hand badly when tidying up the glass. So they have sat together in a bag since – I wanted to get rid of them, but they were good frames, a familiar picture and I didn’t want to. They were also too big for the dustbin, so needed a trip to the tip.

Yesterday, we dug out the dustbin and fitted them in.

The house already looks a little more spacious.


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Dawn breaking through

The flood came and washed the sealed lean-to floor. The freezer is still up on bricks and a demonstrative word has been had with next door about guttering that funnels under their and our roof. It shan’t be happening again.

Yet another person is pregnant.

“Really?” I said, playing with my snakes and continuing to drink my beer.

Dawn is attempting to break through the cloud and it’s that time of twilight again, when I’m not awake enough to do anything useful but am too awake to sleep. If I sleep a couple of hours then am up for the afternoon later today it’s not a problem. If I keep on sleeping through because I need the sleep then it is as it’s another day wasted with nothing done. Yesterday I went to sleep late in the hope I’d sleep less altogether, then sleep well tonight. The first bit worked, the second didn’t.

When awake but not awake enough, my staple diet is Radio 4 Extra, where the detective stories and comedies of 80 years’ recordings are prepared and presented for my delectation and delight. At present though it’s detective stories that I’ve heard before and horrors, which are not the best idea in the dark when my mind is distracted by the real horrors that happen in everyday life.

So instead, after prompting from the Radio 4 extra documentary, I’m listening to Victoria Wood in stand-up, who made the domestic important, the obscure accessible and the horrendous funny. This is someone who can make ‘natural birth’ a comedy subject of interest and relevance to single men. She was gone too soon and is sadly missed.

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Under a cloud

Sitting under a cloud. Literally. I’m out in the garden and the sky is getting darker… any moment now I’ll have to go in before the computer is washed away in the flood.

Had visitors at the weekend. One coo’d over the snakes. The other didn’t.

Then we had a new reaction to the garden. Nextdoor knew we had visitors, so purposefully or not they put on a show. They put out meat for the carrion feeders and we had forty red kites spiralling over the garden. It was more than that, but forty is where we lost count. They swooped down inches above the fences to grab from nextdoor’s garden and be away in one movement. One visitor sat outside with us staring up, happily mesmerised. The other ran away and hid indoors, finding the whole thing terrifying.

As they stood indoors next to the snakes, the snakes begun to look a lot more reasonable. They aren’t exactly going to rush out and get their own snakes, but by the end of the visit they could happily handle them.

Big boundy dog visited too. Second one to visit. Second to ignore the snakes.

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Day dapple

Apparently, Day Dapple is the time of day when the daylight has begun to fade and it’s no longer possible to distinguish a person from a bush. A twilight time between worlds.

Right now I’m pondering what word should be added to the meaning of liff that means, “To be awake after a night shift, but not awake enough to be able to do anything useful that requires coherent thought”. Suggestions welcome. English not compulsory.

In the meantime, the voyage of discovery in the house continues.

There’s a collection of wellies in the void behind the paradoxical cupboard. Obviously these are Ritual, the magic of which is the only thing keeping the house up.

The neighbours have visited and stood in our “dining room” expressing horror. One just laughed as there were no words for the electrics ‘fail’ in the kitchen planning.

We’ve seen theirs and we can see why they are horrified. We have so many extra plasterboard walls, not just across voids or stuck randomly over each other, but breaking space up altogether. If they didn’t exist we could get a table into the dining room. As it is, at the moment if we wanted to do that it would have to be small and we’d have to sit in the dark admiring the boiler (it’s in a created alcove, not a cupboard).

We’re considering removing the extra walls – we’ve been here nearly a year and have never shut the doors in them due to the trailing wires, door frames that mean shutting the door gives a better view through the wall, and the way that the kitchen has spread into other rooms purely to get fundamentals such as the fridge in somewhere.

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Quick quiz

Internet engineer visited yesterday. Cooo’d at the snakes.

Someone visited to pick up items. Cooo’d at the snakes.

Wider family visited. They didn’t want the snakes out of the viv, but were interested in looking at them while the glass was still in place. Cooo’d at the snakes.

Evidence is suggesting that only one person has reacted negatively, which if it was a true phobia would not have involved them walking past and eating dinner with us a couple of metres away in line of sight of them. Hmm…

In other news, have renewed my travel insurance, something I do every year as an annual policy is cheaper and easier than trying to buy at the time of booking a holiday. I am allowed to go to any warzone I want, to approach any hazard I desire… but it is too dangerous and expensive for me to set foot into the US, even to change planes. We all felt that this showed a flaw in the system and were pondering which system this could be.

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Paradoxical cupboards

We were visited by our local family builder at the weekend, who advised where and how we could take out plasterboard and open up space. The meter cupboard in the kitchen is about five foot (let’s call it 150cm) off the ground and is set into a doorway. The cupboard has a floor, supported in the air. The infill of the doorway, the frame of which continues down under the cupboard so we know it’s a doorway, is hollow when it is tapped. This is obviously the original larder, from the original kitchen, shown on the original plans.

So we put a hole in. Solid concrete. Covered in pretty wallpaper.

A hole the other end, which according to everything, should be solid brick or concrete as it’s the cupboard’s back wall, went straight through into a void.

We now have no idea the dimensions of this cupboard – just that it’s not load-bearing.

So far the rats aren’t back. We’re aiming to find and block all holes before they are.

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