Thursday, February 12

Rock on the rocks

There will be a fund raising night in aid of Guide Dogs on the 21st of Feb at "On the Rocks" in Newquay.

Organised by Catriona and her guide dog Ike, although I think Cat has done a bit more towards it than Ike has.
It will be an open mike music and entertainment night with prizes donated by the generous local businesses etc and performances from anyone wishing to turn up and play. For my sins, I will be attempting to take control of the DJ decks and provide the musical interludes between the fundraising and live acts, but dont let that put you off!

From around 8pm, it would be great to see everyone there.

Discover blind shooting!

Here we have a recent article that I wrote for our local charity, Disability Cornwall and their "Discover" magazine...

Blind and visually impaired shooters using rifles? Not the most sensible combination you may think! However at CABS (Cornwall Association Blind Shooting) that is exactly what happens.

Based at Helston and District Rifle Club, they meet every Wednesday afternoon between 2 and 4pm and have gone from strength to strength since forming in 2001. Open to anybody with a visual impairment it provides an invaluable opportunity to take part in a sport usually the domain of sighted individuals.

British Blind Sport and the National Small-Bore Rifle association have helped to increase awareness and run National postal competitions that club members participate in throughout the year. This keeps the CABS members on their toes and provides a constant challenge for those wanting to see how they compare with others. Once a year members have the chance to travel to Wolverhampton for the British Open, where shooters get to compete shoulder to shoulder against the best in the country. Locally though, the club provides its own internal competitions and often invites other groups to attend for friendly events. Most recently the Police Equality and Diversity team put up a good set of scores and had a chance to see just how much of a hindrance sight could be when trying to use the specialist equipment.

To the casual observer the sight, which is designed for use on an air rifle at a range of 10m looks like a conventional telescope sight. However, that is where the similarity ends. The sight is designed to collect and measure the level of light reflected from the
target. The centre of the target is brilliant white and then moving outwards from the centre
it is increasingly darker. The closer to the centre of the target you are aiming the greater
the level of light reflected and hence the higher the frequency of sound which is heard by the shooter via a pair of headphones.

There are two disciplines, one is shooting supported where the weight of the rifle is taken by a sprung stand and is ideal for those with physical impairments or weaker participants. Unsupported is a much tougher discipline and requires the shooter to hold the rifle on target whilst standing upright bearing the weight through the body, much the same as sighted shooters.

CABS is keen to hear from new members, groups wishing to attend for a friendly shoot and also anyone wishing to join the highly valued group of volunteers at the club.

Sunday, March 23

Write on!

Well, eventually here we have the finished article that Kez wrote about me last year. Very good job I reckon for a young student, apart from one thing... It makes mention of my drinking a shandy, a vicious slur on my character... enjoy...

It’s not all dark glasses and white stick tapping

Stuart sips a lager shandy as his dog, Brett, gratefully flops onto the pub’s garishly chequered carpet. Since meeting 12 weeks ago the pair have spent every waking minute together, and have built up a vital relationship.
“You get looked at differently when using a cane or using a guide dog. With a cane people try and keep out of your way, they think you’ve got some kind of disease. But when you’re with the dog, people stop and make a fuss,” says Stuart.

95 per cent of people with sight problems in the UK are 65 or over, so at the age of 32, Stuart is unusually young to have lost his sight. He had glaucoma for 15 years, the raising of eye pressure from liquid in the eye, crushing the optic nerves. He lost the sight in his left eye 10 years ago but had some sight in his right eye so was still able to do most things.
Stuart had an operation at world-renowned Moorfields Eye Hospital in London. A high powered laser was rested on top of his eye ball which would essentially burn to the back of the eye which is where the fluid is coming out of. A side effect of the operation was that it damaged the cornea in his eye and left him blind.
“I’ve got no sight in the left eye at all, in my right I can see lights and big blocks of colour, it’s like being trapped in a fog,” he describes.
Stuart feels he is a unique case, because finally losing his eyesight turned out to be the best thing to happen to him.
“After 15 years of it going and going, to wake up the morning after the operation and have it gone was a relief, because I knew where I stood then,” explains Stuart.

Stuart is one of two million blind people in the United Kingdom. Contrary to the stigma he doesn’t spend his days bumping into lampposts or sitting in a darkened room, eating microwave meals.
“It can be isolating if you haven’t got anybody to see or do, but I made a point of saying to my friends not to treat me any differently, they don’t think about it anymore. I’m the same person I was before,” he says.

Stuart continues to dream like a sighted person, “I don’t have a dog and I don’t have my cane, I can visualise things, it’s quite strange to have sighted dreams, but then if you’re blind from birth I don’t know if you get that.” Having had sight he says, “When I go shopping and someone picks up a shirt they can describe it to me, I get a picture in my mind, but if you’ve never really known what colour looks like I don’t know how you can describe to someone what a colour actually is, so I’m quite lucky.”

Stuart volunteers for the Cornwall Blind Association, and works for their advocacy service, which helps people with sight loss secure their rights, represent their interests and obtain the services they need. Stuart used a cane for two years with a roller tip where changes of gradient on the pavement and bumps are picked up by rolling the tip from side to side. It is a very time consuming way of walking, the cane has to be swept in front of every step taken.

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association was set up in 1931 to give blind and partially sighted people greater independence. After being matched with a suitable guide dog the visually impaired owner and dog spend up to four weeks of intensive training together until they qualify together. The owner proudly hands over a token 50p for their dog and the guide dog is awarded a white harness.
Stuart’s guide dog Brett has an imperative role in helping Stuart keep the independent lifestyle that he is used to. Stuart enjoys comedy stand-ups and is in the process of writing his own sets and searching for a willing audience. He is also a member of a shooting club and takes part in national shooting competitions, using pitch changes to signify where the target is. Everywhere Stuart goes, Brett, goes too.
Stuart is taking computer classes and is six weeks into learning Braille, “If you can imagine sic dots on a domino, Braille is made up of those but just in different proportions, you have to relearn the alphabet,” he describes. Talking software on computers and mobile phones means that Braille is not depended on as much as it used to be. “Gadgets and gizmos are very important to me, I can voice record peoples names and addresses on my mobile phone, its an organiser and has built in personal satellite-navigation,” explains Stuart.
Stuart owns his own house and is extremely self-sufficient. He planned ahead while he was going blind, doings things like putting dials on his washing machine so he can feel the different settings. Stuart’s wide screen television remains in his lounge and his dark eyebrows rise as he jokes how its only use now, is that it heats up the room.
He goes on to describe how while out for lunch with friends he managed to spear himself in the eye with an asparagus stick. Being blind is a portion of Stuart’s character, but it’s not what defines him, its humour and banter that make up the most part of his personality.

K. Clark 2007

Saturday, March 15

Shooting Starse

Deep breaths, the feel of rapid heartbeat, the increase of adrenaline flowing through the body, preparing for the fight or flight instinct to kick in... and fight it was...

My second trip up to Wolverhampton for the British Blind Open shooting championships was more of a struggle this year. Standing on the range with the above emotions hitting home, I realised that I had set myself a high standard to beat last year. 587 out of a possible 600 points was going to be hard to beat. As it turned out I scored 579 this year, although I am pretty happy with the result as it was only my 3rd week of using my new rifle, and as such had not customized it to my liking yet.
Tony and Joe, fellow shooters from the club at Helston also made the trip up with us, Tony geting a personal best score. My score placed me at second in class B, the class I won last year.
This year however, I joined Joe in shooting in the unsupported discipline, something that requires great concentration and stamina to hold a rifle at shoulder height and to within a few millimetres of movement. 60 shots over 30 targets in the space of an hour and 45 mins. Again with the new rifle and never having competed in unsupported in competition before, I realised a score of 546 which put me at 3rd overall in the unsupported category which bodes well for next year. At least there is some silverwear on its way back home!

Blind drunk in charge of a weapon, yeah!

Bounty hunters R us

Saturday, March 1

Amy and me at my bday do.
Less impressive when its not erect admittidily.

Proudly exhibiting my lengthy weapon.

Tuesday, January 1

Who you gonna call!? Ghostbu... err, the hospital actually.

Happy New Year to the millions of comitted readers, umm, I mean reader.
New Year this year was seen in at Tim and Veritys, although neither of the hosts were present at midnight. Photos of us in fancy dress can be seen below. Tim, one of our ghostbusting team decided that fainting and hitting the floor out cold would be much more entertaining for the night, splitting his chin open and having to be taken to A and E just to top it off! Luckily Wonder Woman, aka Jo Hill, our friend the paramedic swept into action cape flowing to patch up his wounds. Although it transpires that Wonder Woman isn't a wonder driver, escorting the hosts to hospital, although sober, she took out a section of wall in their driveway.
Left with a slightly subdued house, we all ate drank and was as merry as we could be. Especially Amber, whilst chatting to me in the hallway late on in the night, she proceeded to admit just how drunk she was, finishing with the killer line "I'm so pissed, it's a good job this radiator is here to keep me up". As if the New Year gods of comedy timing were watching, at that precise moment they deemed it right and proper for the fixings on the radiator to come off and send her tumbling forward. So, a slightly bizarre, but entertaining night none the less!

New Year Pictures

I aint afraid of no ghost! Just bad grammer like that sentance.

Who you gonna call? Probably someone else...

Curtis and Jude ate all the pies.

Jo, the (super) hero of the day!

Jimbob plays that funky music.

Friday, December 14

Just a quick note to the 2 crazy, but equally lovely ladies we met in PC World this afternoon. It occurred to me shortly after that you would be ideal in providing refreshments and catering for a joint Birthday bash at Skinners in Truro if you would be interested. It might solve a few probs my end! If you would like to leave your details or email them to me I would be much appreciated. Cheers, not that you probably ended up looking at this rubbish site anyways, maybe you got something out of it if you did manage to make it...

Saturday, December 1

This afternoon Brett and I will be out collecting at Tesco Redruth on behalf of Guide Dogs, despite the rubbish weather hopefully there should be peeps out stocking up for Crimbo.
If you are one of the lucky people we bumped into today and ended up here, sorry for the lack of recent updates. Feel free however to leave a comment here, sign the guest book or give a donation via the links on this page. If you have further questions on what guide dogs do or want to just get in touch with me for any other reason then we will be glad to hear from you, do drop us an email. Thanks for your support.

Friday, October 19

Wake up call

Bark, woof! Bretts barking and general bouncing about obviously woke me up at around 4.30 in the morning. Telling him to calm down as there was nothing to get wound up about soon proved to be inaccurate. Someone was trying my front door handle and giving it a good shove with the obvious intention of getting in, luckily it was locked. So up I jump and stride out of the bedroom and make for the door. Dog on one hand shouting what the F is going on out here! I'm sure it would have been more threatening if I wasn't just wearing a wife-beater vest and nothing else!
Outside the front door I had a jolly conversation through the door with the worlds most inebriated man. He was insistant that he had left his stuff inside and would take no ammount of persuading that this wasn't the house he was looking for. I contemplated using Jedi mind skills, but to be honest even Obi Wan would have had a hard job. After politely, and then impolitely asking him to go I threatened to set the dog on him, probably a hollow threat considering my semi nakedness and the softest guide dog ever. In the end it resulted in a call to the police, by which point (25mins) he had staggered off. The police were helpful enough once they actually arrived, but considering that I was both behind a door, and am blind, being asked if I could describe him was a little strange!

Track of the day = Wham - Wake me up before you go, go

Wednesday, October 3

The Blind and The Bill Battle for the Bull

This afternoons regular shooting practice was livened up by a little friendly competition between our club and the Police. Representatives from the Police diversity team visited us at the club, among whom were ex firearms officers hoping to put their years of experience to use. After a little intimidation and trash talking from us regulars the event got under way.
Blindfolds were used for the Police, not that sight would have helped them, the rifles used at the club are adapted to use sound to indicate when you are on target. Having no optical scope to look down means the only way to get on the centre of the target is to listen to the subtle pitch changes in your headphones based on the amount of light reflected off the black and white targets. Scoring was out of 100 points per shooter, based on 2 targets with 5 shots on each with a max 10 points per shot. Give them their due, the guys from the Police did really well considering the lack of practice, they were turning in scores in the high 80s and early 90s. Our guys were on the ball however with our best shots returning consistent 90 plus scores. We all got the chance to have 3 goes each and for my first 2 attempts I got 97 and 96, My 3rd go was after we had stuffed ourselves with food and cake. This must have done the trick as I laid to rest any doubts as to who was going to win with my score of a maximum 100. The smackdown had been well and truely served, with an overall win of 34 points to our club over the Feds.

Track of the day = Jon Bon Jovi - Blaze of Glory

Sunday, September 30

Food, Friends, Family and, errrm, Bowling

Scott and Jo kindly offered to cook a roast for the usual rabble this afternoon. I tried to restrict myself to just a small portion as there would be another slap up meal in the evening for mums birthday. Unfortunately it was a bit too nice, and I ended up eating more than I should have including the so called caramelize carrots, for caramelized insert scorched. It was a bit of a stretch to expect Brett not to pine after the food, and with baby Amber extending her hand to feed him the poor thing must have gone insane. Amber and Brett seem to be good friends now, with B looking for attention all the time, and A giving him kisses and rolling on the floor with him. Having refrained from the intake of wine I very nearly fell asleep on the sofa afterwards whilst the others drank and chatted away.
We were taken straight from there to Truro by the folks early in the evening, along with Nat, Amy and Dan for the meal in the evening. So B had to spend another hour or so under a table whilst I stuffed my face. He had a bit of fun afterwards though when we finished up with a game of bowling.
This was the first time I had attempted bowling since losing my sight. Of course I went in all cocky saying that there wouldn't be any difference to my obviously amazing ball hurling skills. However I was soon proven wrong when my first 6 or 7 balls ended up in the gutter. I think I found some sort of technique by the end of the 2 games, but I may be deluded, scoring a total of around 20 points in total. For some reason B got very distressed when I went up to take my go, despite being only a few feet away he would whine and get really excited when I went back to him. Maybe with all the noise he thought I might be hurt. I think that mum enjoyed her birthday night out, and I particularly enjoyed working B at breakneck speed back to the car through the deserted streets of Truro

Saturday, September 22

Slacker Moi?

Yes, this is indeed a new post from me! I thought it about time that I actually updated this thing. If I do it daily then my shrunken brain might get into the habit. So here we go, I have finally pulled my metaphorical finger out of wherever it was metaphorically stuck. I may even fill in some of the yawning chasm left by the lack of posts in the last few months.

Thursday, September 20

All fired up with a burning desire to help

Please no jokes about men in uniform or hosepipes, for a change this evening was actually something serious that I was involved in. County Fire Brigade had asked for my input as a visually impaired person to help give some feedback on how the service could be improved. With representatives from a broad spectrum of disabilities we met at Cornwal College along with staff from stations throughout the county, and yes there was food provided, yay!
Unlike some of these consultation events, there was a genuine interest in the expectations and needs of the vulnerable and those with disabilities in the community. Myths were dispelled on both sides and with a short presentation from each disabled person, I hope the Fire Service now understand more about the extra danger for us.
Both enjoyable and informative, I hope to be involved with more of the workshops in future as their plans move forward.

Saturday, September 8

Warming up the House.

We rocked up at Tim and Verity's place this evening for their bungalow warming shindig. I very kindly offered my services as DJ for the night, well, actually I didn't give them a choice in the matter! Armed with a set of CD mixers and a poly of fresh Skinners ale there was no stopping me. You can check out the setlist below.
Brett had a great time playing with the children there, and eyeing up the food spread out in the kitchen. As we were set up in the kitchen this was a big temptation, but he eventually settled down at my feet. However he was soon to be woken by Jo launching herself over him and head first toward the fridge freezer, alcohol and sleeping dogs don't mix. We left late and were the last to leave, but we ensured that the house was well and truely warmed.

Track of the day = Star Wars vs. Chemical Brothers - Galvanize the Empire

Housewarming DJ setlist.

01 20th Century Fox Fanfare intro
02 Star Wars vs. Chemical Brothers -Galvanize the Empire
03 Sugababes- Push The Button
04 Mutya Buena - Song 4 Mutya [Out Of Control] With Groove Armada
05 Basement Jaxx - Where's Your Head At
06 Justice vs Simian - Never Be Alone
07 Stardust - Music Sounds Better With You
08 flat pack - sweet child of mine original mix
09 robyn - with every heartbeat
10 Snow Patrol - You're All I Have
11 Killers - Mr. Brightside
12 Blur vs. Madison Avenue - Don't Call Me Song 2
13 take that - shine
14 Gnarls Barkley - Crazy
15 timbaland-give it to me (feat. nelly furtado and justin timberlake)
16 nelly furtado-promiscuous (feat timbaland)
17 Fergie Vs Madonna - Glamorous Girl
18 Amy Winehouse -Rehab (Desert Eagle Mix)
19 razorlight-in the morning
20 Kaiser chiefs - ruby
21 Mark Ronson Ft. Lily Allen - Oh My God
22 Lily Allen - Smile
23 Kate Nash - Foundations
24 Girls Aloud - Biology
25 The Fratellis - Chelsea Dagger
26 Green Day vs. Oasis - Blvd Of Broken Songs
27 foo fighters - the pretender
28 lostprophets - rooftop s(a liberation broadcast)
29 linkin Park- What I've Done
30 feeder-buck rogers
31 Kelly Clarkson - Since U Been Gone
32 Michael Jackson vs Gwen Stefani - Hollaback Thriller Girl
33 Elton John vs The Fresh Prince - I'm still standing in Bel Air
34 Maroon 5 - This Love
35 Scissor Sisters - I Don't Feel Like Dancin'
36 Queen - Don't Stop Me Now
37 Foundations - Build Me Up Buttercup
38 Van Morrison - brown eyed girl
39 Monty Python's Flying Circus - Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life
40 plain White T's- Hey There Delilah
41 Nizlopi - JCB song
42 Sigur Ros - hoppipolla

Sunday, August 26

BBQ'd to a crisp.

Waking up with a hangover this morning was probably an indicator that I should refrain from drinkage for a while, the events that followed just served to reinforce this point!
Attending a bbq hosted by Rachael and Steve in the afternoon I put off drinking the quality Cornish ales til after I had some food. Persuaded to partake of the hairy dog to cure my hangover by my so called friends was just the start. The first 2 bottles were forced down whilst Brett stretched out in the garden waiting for baby Amber to wave food infront of his nose. The 3rd and 4th went down alot easier though! After a battle of wills over an entire chicken drumstick that B managed to get hold of and clamp down on, we took off.
After a quick change at home it was off to the pub, earlier thoughts of a hangover now well disguised by the same thing that gave rise to its origin. It was only a brief stop though, just enough time to let Scott and Jo get an eyeful of growler from the open legs of a 'lady' with all too short hotpants on. Leaving the high calibre clientelle and karaoke behind Jo went home and Scott and I ventured towards the Twilight.
Now, the Twilight Zone is Redruths one and only nightclub, it has the obligatory sticky carpet, plastic pint glasses and smells of sweaty dog. Hence the reason why I haven't attended in over 5 years. The only reason we were going was to see up and coming local band Glass Shark perform. Mistake no1. Only in Twiglet could they announce that the support band hadn't turned up, and then for the main act to play 2 songs, make some excuse about a chest problem and then leave! Claire, Oli and Morgan who we met in there left at this point to get their money back and go home. I on the other hand badgered Scott into staying. Mistake No2. It got very messy from there on in, lots of drink,a little boogieing on the dancefloor with Brett, and an unknown woman sitting on my lap for part of the evening. Most of which I have been told by Scott as I have no recolection.
Finally leaving at closing time we try to look for a taxi, after a disagreament with said taxi driver over the nature of his over inflated fare we decided to walk, not before I fall over and crack the back of my head. As we were at the bottom of the exit from the grounds, a bloke came running up and said that he had seen what had happened and he had got a whip round and collected taxi fare for us! Sometimes it pays to have a disability! However kind the offer, we still walked back to Scotts as there was no way I was going home in my state. Waking up in a strange bed not knowing quite where I was, a cut on my head and sick at the foot of the bed is definately an indication not to have 2 full days of drinking again in future.

Track of the day = Justice - D.A.N.C.E.