On this day ... in February 1989

Post date: 
Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Guide dog

A century of NB - RNIB’s flagship publication, NB Online, is this year being recognised for reaching 100 years in circulation. Each month throughout the year, we look in the archives to find out what issues blind and partially sighted people have faced since the magazine started in 1917. 

Back in February 1989, NB reader Joe Herkes contributed a spirited article for NB called ‘My man says...’ with his guide dog as the narrator. This month’s ‘On this day’ feature was chosen because although it was from 27 years ago, it deals with two issues which are topical for readers today. The first is the extra expenses people with sight loss face on top of their household bills, and the second is about a letter written by Alistair Cooke about the American Presidential election between George H. W Bush and Michael Dukakis in 1988. 

He says quite a lot, to me at any rate. I’ve been wanting to wise you up on it for some time. Trouble is, he hogs the typewriter. This is the first chance I’ve had to get a paw upon it since he started writing these trivialities. 
He’s been going on recently about ‘charges’ for teeth and eye tests. What the woof he’s nattering on about teeth for is beyond me. I’ve been around for seven years or so, and to the best of my knowledge he hasn’t had a tooth in his head for most of that time.
Specs. Daresay that’s different. The poor old sod isn’t endowed with the best eyesight, although I’ve never heard him complain about that. But there’s something in what he says on the subject. Whilst he freely admits he could afford a tenner for a quickie with the optician, many other people cannot.

I just worked it out on the calculator the other day. Ten nicker for an eye test. If you say this just comes around once in two years – well, whilst it works out at saving 10p a week, if you add the TV licence – and maybe the odd set of new gnashers occasionally – it comes to quite a bit. And that, as My Man mentions, is not taking into consideration possible charges for home helps, being considered by some authorities – and what about the price of my grub? Even in the supermarkets it’s on an upward trend. It must be a similar situation for those (I think) misguided folks who have a cat or two around the place. I’ve no great love for the mee-owers myself, but they have to get their stuff each day, as one particularly undiscerning individual of my acquaintance referred to that 4 o’clock time.

And another thing I’ve heard My Man on about lately – The Pole Tax. He’s Scottish and the folks in the ‘land of God’s frozen people’, as he refers to his native country, will be into paying the thing before the yuppified society south of the Ouse. Can’t quite make sense of it. I’m reading all that Social Science malarkey, hoping for an Open Doggi-veristy (Hons) degree in due course, like My Man says he has. 
The Auld Yin [the term auld yin is a Scottish unisex word that can be applied to either of your parents] rants and raves about a White Paper on the ‘wireless’, as the outdated fellow keeps calling it. Haven’t had time to look at it, pro tem., or whatever (My Man hogs all the printed material which comes through the post, as well as the typewriter), but he’s been rabbiting on, something to the effect that by and large it will mean a deterioration in what hits the ether. 
From what I gather, lying there pretending to snoozeableness, the stuff which comes through these hi-fi speakers each side of the sitting-room window is just deadly. Even My Man says, at times says: “Turn that down, it must be dreadful even for Roy’s lug’oles.” He’s kindly, in a stupid sort of way, My Man. 
I’ve grown accustomed to the noise of these top-notch loudspeakers – LOUD being the most operative word. But just occasionally, when the Auld Yin’s not into unaccompanied cello sonatas by Bach, or resuscitated recordings of Caruso singing the Rite of Spring, there is a fifteen-minute break which seems to me a bit commonsense in this uncultured isle.
It comes, in fact, from outside this sceptered isle. ‘Letter from America’. It’s written, far as I can gather, by a guy called Alistair Cookie, and My Man’s like a bear with a sore foot if he misses it on Friday evenings. He’s like a bear with two sore feet if he fails to audit the repeat, 9.15am Sundays. He’s got a point about this Cookie guy. He has explained in everyday terms all that kafuffle which has recently been in the press about the American Presidential elections. As My Man mentioned, “I’d have been absolutely bushed but for Cookie.” I think there’s a joke there, somehow. My Man makes so many, I’ve given up trying to interpret them. 
But back to Square One. I’ve never had the chance of getting at that typing-machine, previously. Might be a millennium before I do so again. I would, therefore, leave you with this thought (so to bark): If all the clichés of Moggie’s Patch and Glen Kinsfok were put together in a book, it would (if published) be dear at half the selling price. 

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