If I had not been given the opportunity of special education, small classes, teachers and care staff trained and experienced to take a long view of the needs of blind and low vision children, my life would have been very much the poorer even though I must have suffered some short and long-term emotional damage, including a huge knock to my self-image and self-worth. If a body of professionals had not put their heads together, had a vision for us and made it all happen by raising funds, building buildings, creating educational and social care curricula for us, I and others would have remained self-centred no-hopers in our homes. The junior school on the Lickey Hills I attended no longer exists like so many such schools but the New College in Worcester still blazes the way as the shining light for higher education and opportunity for young people with significant sight loss. The medics have done such a great job that numbers of able blind children are small and much of twenty-first sight loss is related to more general damaged children, presenting a whole new challenge to professionals and society.
So I got used to the ways of a boarding school, the revolting food, the comradeship, the lessons, the lack of privacy, and the yearning for home. I learned to fit in, keep quiet, do what I was told to do mostly, and to please staff by working to my best ability. In particular, I made sure I was never one of those boys bent over with trousers down in front of the whole school as the star of the Thursday afternoon beating ceremony. My obedience, however, did have one limitation. I could not bring myself to eat grisly fatty meat and I spent many days up in bed as my punishment. Great to beat the system and I have a happy memory of a new school nurse bringing me a bit of chocolate unknown to the prison warders.
Lucky not be have been caught but so exciting for a small boy: Risk, danger, fear and food.