23./ Made a new friend.
In town, fancied a sausage roll, a young man walks into the shop, extendable cane in hand, he’s blind. “Do they have drinks here?”
I’m standing next to the fridge, I see they have water, and cans, I tell him, he asks how much, 90p for he water, he wants an orange drink, they’re not priced, I’ll get it you mate, I tell him. I take the cold can from the fridge and place it in his hand, and pay for it, along with my sausage roll.
Can I sit down in here, he asks. I tell him no, but let’s go and sit across the road by the Peace Gardens. He takes my arm, I guide him across the road, pushing my bike, and we sit and chat.
He tells me he’s been blind twelve years. Motorbike accident. He shows me the scar running across his head, ear to ear. I tell him about the pigeons I’m sharing my sausage roll with. There’s five, six, eight now…
He tells me he killed a woman in the crash that blinded him. He got five years for it.
I tell him the sound we can hear is all the children on climate strike outside the town hall.
He tells me he’s got to get the bus or tram to go and see his mate. I say I’ll walk with him.
You want to ride the bike? I offer. His face lights up. Not been on a bike for ages.
He sits on it, giving me his cane, which he’s folded up.
We roll through town. A community police office suggests it’s not safe. I don’t feel the need to debate it.
He’s riding a bike, with me holding his arm, walking beside him. I tell him the shops we pass. He tells me he remembers some, the ones from when he could see.
We cross the road and tram tracks by the Cathedral. The tram is 9 minutes away.
He talks about his motorbikes, and the one that he crashed. I take his phone number, and give him a missed call. We agree to meet again. He tells me he got 160mph out of one of his bikes. Flying fam, I was flying. He wants to write a book.
The tram arrives. He navigates on, swoping my bike back for his cane.
A man tries to help him reach a hand hold. He brushes him away.
Walking back to get a coffee, I think, there’s no way I want a fiver for this, it would cheapen the experience.
Then I think, I’ll give my fiver to a blind charity, Guide Dogs for the Blind.
And I think, I wonder if my new friend would like a guide dog. I bet he would.
I’ll give him a call and ask him. And if he does, I’ll help him get one.