Blind Aid

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 26 September 2016

I'm meant to be sleeping but I'm not ready yet. It's 2.45a.m. I'm in the attic, the clock is ticking, everything else is dead quiet. The mole who is destroying the garden is asleep. The foxes have stopped screaming, and the old git is snoring gently.

Yesterday I did my annual hosting for Blind Aid, a remarkable charity run by Sue O'Hara and her team of young inspirers. Richie, who is as tall as The Shard, bends down to hug me. Even on tip toe I still can't reach his cheek. The annual tea party takes place in Westminster. The sun reflects on the brass hand rails and the sweeping marble stairs of The Methodist Hall. Most London Boroughs are represented, some Mayors attend, their finery glinting. Tuxedo Junction play dinner jazz as visually impaired guests take their seats. Volunteers sit with them. My job is to interview selected people, make jokes and generally host the afternoon. Newly formed bands play medleys, poems are spoken, stories read and the afternoon is brought to a close with a young crooner who sounds like Tony Bennett.

I interviewed a poet, she gradually lost her sight over the years. One day she realised that her last bit of seeing had gone. She talked of helping others and adjusting to a life of darkness. Her first dinner party, as a blind woman, ended with her jamming half a lemon in her mouth and sticking a green bean up her nose. She was funny and real. A man who had been blind from birth discovered he was terrific at teaching others IT, but had only discovered it after learning to cook at Blind Aid sessions. Literally the blind leading the blind, but in a good way.

Normally I would bob between tables and eat sandwiches and cakes, but I was allowed to leave early. I walked out into the sunshine. Past the tourists outside Downing Street, past the guards atop their horses, past the Trafalgar Theatre

Walking down the Mall dodging Japanese photographers and groups of Italian students I was happy that I could see, and delighted that I had the energy to dodge.

The train at 16.00 left charing Cross 2 seconds late. I arrived five seconds before. Home by 5.00 with the 'oosbind waiting in the car.

Last week I was on Radio Sussex, early starts, and three hour shows. I'm 98% back to normal. My 'condition' has still not been named, but my body is healing itself, every day I get better and better. Walking away from Westminster I was aware that the resilience of all the people I had left behind in the Methodist hall was catching.

October 3rd is the Jewish New Year, mine started yesterday.

Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes


1. At September 26, 2016 12:53 PM lynne chazer wrote:

Glad to have you back and feel well.

2. At September 27, 2016 12:11 PM Angela wrote:

Jeni, lovely to hear your positive voice again. L'shanah tova, may the new year bring you health and sweetness

3. At September 29, 2016 7:58 AM Louise Knight wrote:

Truly wonderful so happy for you...its sounds as if you have been to hell and back....

4. At September 29, 2016 2:44 PM 'L' wrote:

Wow that's so cool to see you back on the airwaves. I instantly listened to your last Friday's radio Sussex show and was amazed how delicious and fresh you sound, just like old days in London. I'm thrilled to hear you doing fine and hope you continue to heal in all ways. Wishing you long life and good health now as we are coming up to the Jewish New Year.
All my love.

5. At November 16, 2016 11:40 AM Sue O'Hara wrote:

Dearest Jeni: I can't thank you enough for hosting our Annual Celebration once again this year. We have received endless votes of positivity and thanks for the wonderful afternoon you created on our behalf. So very glad you are feeling well again. We look forward to seeing you again next year.

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