Enter Julia clutching a piece of paper.
She has known for years that here eyes are no longer what they were. She can often be seen in Tesco peering intently at labels, or tottering about town, weaving to avoid the lamp posts. But somehow, today she is different. And all through the power of her piece of paper.
It transpires that after her last consultation with her ophthalmologist* he decided it was time to put her name on the Blind Register. And that is what the paper tells her, or would do could she but read it. (I presume some kindly relative or passer by has read it to her because she does know the content before she comes in).
So that’s it then. She’s officially blind. She had never really thought of herself in those terms before, so the letter, far from being the simple administrative document intended, aimed at allowing her access to more assistance and support, instead drops on the mat a harbinger of doom, foreordaining the “dying of the light”.
Her driving license has already gone, some years ago, when her sight fell below the threshold for public and personal safety, as heralded by a small contretemps with a roadside tree. She has been in to audio books for years and is a familiar sight in the Library restocking her supply, and Eastenders and Corrie are now radio dramas for her. But blind, no, surely not. Just a bit foggy is all…
What her specialist, quite rightly, saw as a kindly act, registering her so she can be properly assessed for the aids necessary to preserve her independence, has instead had an effect somewhat akin to the “black spot” of pirate lore. Now she’s had her letter the Angel of Death lurks round every corner, but at least she qualifies for a phone with huge buttons.
It took a good twenty minutes to persuade her that her sight was no worse since the letter came, and that being on “the register” did not mean she had to start being “ill”, just because her eyes have aged a bit quicker than the rest of her. Finally, and with a cheery farewell to the hat-stand as she passes she bustles off in search of more audio literature.
Not quite ready to “go gently into that good night” yet then.
* after a few stiff gins these chaps all become "eye specialists" for some reason.