Tag Archives: Science

This is why I don’t write fiction

Almost 2 years ago I did a creative writing course. It was the first course I had done since losing my eyesight and I wasn’t sure I would be able to manage it. Luckily the college was able to arrange an absolutely terrific teacher who not only photocopied all the course materials to larger print for me, but who also allowed me to smuggle Dad in for extra assistance. To date I think this is still one of the most enjoyable things that we have done together.


We all had to provide an excerpt of what we were working on to the class for critique. Everyone else had a novel in the works (some of which I am still eagerly anticipating) but I, preferring the more instant gratification that comes from blogging did not. I could have submitted a blog of course, yet for some reason I decided to give fiction a go.

The result is below.



Sweat poured from his brow, the beads so large he would soon be sitting in his own private lake. He moved to the window in search of relief, but not even a howling gale could’ve stemmed the flow. Yes, it was hot and the air-conditioning unit was out of order, but this wasn’t why he was sweating.

He began to pace, glancing every few seconds at the entrance to the ward . The moments dragged by; tick, tick, tick. Any minute now he’d know. His fate would be sealed.

“What if she dies?” he thought to himself. “Oh God, what if she lives?”

Dr Napoleon James Anderson was a smart man, a rocket scientist with a doctorate in physics. But there was no point in asking him to change a light bulb or hang a painting, it would just never happen. Alas, if only Janet had realized this before the wedding.

 Not that it would have made any difference, with his blue eyes and chiselled jaw; she still would have married him.

 Lost in thought, Napoleon did not notice the ward door finally open. As he looked up, a smartly dressed young woman wearing a stethoscope around her neck and carrying what looked like a medical chart  came striding purposefully  toward him. It was then an unexpected thought arose: “She’s cute; I wonder what she’s doing later.” He shook his head vigorously, now was not the time.

“Mister Anderson I presume?” She said, a hint of a smirk crossing her lips.

Pffft, he thought. “The Matrix, How original.” Doctor actually,” he said, getting to his feet, a note of irritation in his voice. “How’s Janet, is she dead yet?”

Caught off guard at Napoleon’s apparent lack of sensitivity, the woman continued.

“My apologies, Doctor Anderson” she said, before regaining her composure. “Regarding your wife, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is, Janet will live.”

Napoleon tried to appear relieved . “And the bad news?”

“Well Sir, ahem, Doctor…”

Perhaps she wasn’t so cute after all .

“Your wife…”

 Bang! The ward door flung open. There stood Janet , closely followed by two confused and harassed-looking nurses. Her dressing gown hung  open, revealing her once luminous white skin that was now a light shade of green. Her eyes were flaming and her nostrils were flaring. She looked like a woman possessed. . 

 Napoleon gulped, was it too late to run?

 “Hi Janet,” he said, inching toward the door. “You’re looking well”. “You’ll have to excuse me, I was just on my way out”.


I think I should stick to what I know, don’t you?







Sense and Disability

I have no idea what it was called but I once saw this movie that may or may not have starred Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves. In this mysterious movie (mysterious because I can’t be sure it actually exists not because that was its genre. I can’t remember that either), the wide-eyed female lead is desperately in love with this handsome guy who just so happens to be blind.


Anyway in this one scene they were in a restaurant where she worked. For some reason she gave him a block of ice and told him that it was the colour blue. Then she gave him a hot piece of coal (and possibly third degree burns and told him that it was the colour red. Upon feeling the thing she gave him he “saw” the colours she was trying to show him (or at least he said he did to get into her pants).


It made me wonder if that could really work. Could you get an idea of a colour using other senses, even if you’ve never seen them before? Further, is it really true that your other senses are heightened when one of the senses is lost?


A common question posed to people who have lost their sight is “can you hear better now?” In my case, unfortunately not but I do have an insane sense of smell that I didn’t have before. Conversely, I have heard of cases where people who are looking for a specific address or building whilst driving have turned their radio down to help them see better. Surely this doesn’t work, does it? If it does perhaps I should remove my hearing-aid and visit an art gallery. I might get a lot more out of the art.


There is a saying that you eat with your eyes and I never quite understood it. How is that possible? Wouldn’t it obstruct your vision? I remember sitting down to one of the first meals I had eaten at home after going blind (from memory it was Spaghetti Bolognaise or similar). You would think that after a month of eating almost exclusively public hospital meals that this would be like going to Venice for Carnivale. But it wasn’t.


It was no reflection on the cooking, that was still as good as it had ever been and spaghetti bolognaise is one of my favourite things to eat. Yet for some reason I couldn’t enjoy the food in front of me like I used to. The same thing happened when eating Sushi (another favourite) and even chocolate cake. It didn’t stop me from eating it though!


At this time I was completely blind and eating consisted of me groping around on my plate until I stabbed something with my fork that was edible (my own form of hunting and gathering). I began to ponder, just as you are deterred from eating food that does not look appealing, is the desire to eat something diminished when you can’t see what is on the plate?


Not according to The Scientific American.


Apparently the way that the food looks (and presumably whether you can see it) does not affect the taste of it and the taste buds do not react based on whether you like the look of what you are eating or not. That only affects your perception of it.


So why did the enjoyment of the food improve as I regained some of my sight?


I am not a scientist but as I couldn’t actually see what I was putting into my mouth (or anything else) I was getting no visual stimuli. Perhaps the fact that I was so bored was what made the foods so boring.


Move over Marie Curie, I’m coming through!