On The Level

I think it was last week that mum went to see the folks at the once-a-month-so-you-know-it-must-be-good visual impairment place in Halifax. Another way you know it’s good is because it’s in a place that is ludicrously hard to get to and find. Think about most hidden treasure. It’s a twat to get to. So is this place. Ergo it’s awesome.

It was there that mum got her white stick. Which she has used in public now and which has changed her life in many ways. Well two ways, when I asked her. Someone got her something in a shop, rather than sending her off to look for it. And a car let her cross the road somewhere near town. Surprisingly, mum’s white stick is entirely blood-free. She says she hasn’t beaten anyone with it yet. But it’s only a matter of time.

One of the other things she got when she went to see them (or not see them, depending on your outlook) was a doohicky that tells you when you’ve filled a cup with water. We’ve wanted one of these since mum came out of hospital, because she has become notorious for giving you cups of coffee or tea which even a person from the most drought-ridden country on Earth would look at and suggest she put more water in.

The device hangs over the rim of the cup and prongs protrude down into the cup. When water hits two of these prongs it makes a noise and – on mum’s model – vibrates like buggery. There’s a further prong which allows you to add milk as well, to a second level.

It’s bloody terrifying. Well, I think it is. If that was me, struggling to see anything, the last thing I’d want would be a loud beeping and crazed vibrating thing. I wouldn’t be expecting it to go off, because obviously I can’t see. And it does it with such vengeance that it’s hard not to be unsettled, at least the first few times.

And do you know what the say the ideal thing to have in your hand while being startled is?

Obviously it’s a kettle filled with boiling water.

Because there’s nothing better than exclaiming “gah!” (or whatever your chosen sound may be), jumping out of your skin and throwing boiling water skyward. You may be able to pour the perfect cup of tea or coffee, but explain the third-degree burns to your face. Exactly. You can’t.

But no, you can’t knock it, because mum’s actually using it. Which is a rare thing for her. After all we spent ages when she first came out of hospital agreeing a way in which she could tell how much water was in the kettle or had been poured out, which involved me defacing the kettle with a permanent marker. She freely admits she doesn’t look at any of that.

She’s just a law unto herself that woman.

But hey, it was nice to get a full drink, for a change.