1950 It’s All In the Head

I am in bed latish at night not able to sleep, hungry and thirsty, surviving on stale bread and jam from a 5:00 tea. The smell of staff supper chips wafted tauntingly up into our dormitory. I was beginning to work out a mental framework of injustice in the world, the glimmerings of my long-term wariness of professionals. But I guess we had learned to be happy enough. I was playing chess with Bill. No Chess board, no table, no o other observers. I think Bill had no sight by then and, when sat at a chess board, I would have had to peer closely at the pieces and worry about where the light was coming from. From time to time, I would have been touching the pieces to reassure myself of the current position. But this was now all in my head and I could see the pieces more clearly than sat at a real board. I can still imagine a chess board position today but lack the ability to play a game in my head as I could then; I suppose because I don’t practise and so much more is going on between the ears that I don’t find the time to concentrate and focus. 

This in the head business, mental mapping, practising   braille reading and writing with my fingers on the sheets, similarly running through my current music lesson performance,, is so vital in the development of all human beings but massively so for sight loss children. We can appear to be still when in fact we are mentally working pretty hard; We may not have the skills to control our facial expressions and exhibit our alertness and understanding, but we may well be virtually mighty busy nevertheless. I most likely knew far more about virtual in the head imaginational things than I knew about the physical world detail around me. I was from an early age entranced by radio plays; I never needed the missing visual enhancements; The sound experiences were rich enough in themselves.

But, returning to the bed, the smell of chips and my dawning sense of injustice,  I am reminded of a rather joyful instance of me beating the system. On a couple of such occasions, I crept down to the pantry on the ground floor. I found a tray of cheese cake  pieces and knew precisely what they were and who had made them. She was a lovely German lady who spoiled us with titbits so I grabbed and ate a couple before re-arranging the rest and scuttling back to bed.

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