Toupee or not toupee by Trevor Plumbly
Taking a dim view
I never took much notice of blind people. They were there, of course, but short of a flush of sympathy and a few guilt dollars, there wasn’t much else I could offer. Things became a lot clearer (excuse the pun) when my own sight failed.
In some respects I’m lucky: whilst my particular problem is inoperable, it is taking time to inflict total blindness and, as a result, I’ve been able to adjust on a gradual basis. But yearly visits for specialist assessment always show a little more deterioration. Accepting approaching blindness is intensely personal; hardest for me was the realisation that I wasn’t ‘that person’ anymore, the ‘new me’ is somewhat dependent, chock full of repressed frustrations at failing to achieve what used to be trivial routine. My wife has a ‘new me’ too, one that requires her to practically tailor a large chunk of her world to accommodate mine.
As I said, I’m one of the lucky ones: financially secure, I enjoy, and indeed rely on, the support of family and friends and, at 75, I recognise that advances in vision technology won’t affect me a great deal. But stupidity at most levels does, such as awarding compensation to a convicted rapist and escapee on the grounds that confiscating his toupee harmed his dignity and therefore violated his human rights. The farce of continuing to spend huge amounts to deport Mr Dotcom for perceived transgressions towards Warner Brothers, illustrates a shameful waste of resources in NZ. I don’t object to funding the justice system, but let’s at least make a less comical attempt at exercising its core function.
If there’s cash out there for that sort of inanity why not make better use of it by spending more on people disabled by fate rather than their own shortcomings? I can only speak for the blind, for the elderly ones forced to treat every step as the edge of a cliff, those driven to beneficiary status through perceived unemployability, the newly blinded fumbling with a constant darkness, youngsters experiencing isolation from loss of mainstream acceptance by their peers. Disabled folk face huge challenges on a daily basis: access to buildings, sight favoured appliances and devices, cluttered pavements and, of course, coping with public transport. Improving those obstacles would involve relatively little monetary cost. But as with most simple things these days, consultants must be hired, agencies consulted and committees formed. In the meantime, should I trip trying to board a bus, my dignity will be seriously affected; maybe I should think about buying a wig?