"Like the Valaise black-nosed sheep from Switzerland, with the wool blinding their vision, there have been many times in my life when I've walked in a particular direction for no other reason than I was headed that way. I have always been a person who believed in fate, and even when I first started driving, I would prefer to risk getting lost than depend upon the use of a road map. For some perverse reasoning of mine, I considered referring to a roadmap as representing the failure of an immature driver who didn't know where he was going in life. Come to think of it, at that time in my life, I probably didn't have the faintest notion of reaching any specific destination other than to land in my bed at the end of another exciting and pleasurable day.
Retrospectively, I'd have to say that most of the nicest experiences I've had in my life have been blind ones; both in and out of bed! My experience with the opposite sex throughout my life has been one of the best learning stations I have ever visited. The passing of one's years and the refinement of one's ways appear to be the only safe barometer for measuring one's degree of growth and maturity.
My first kiss at the age of ten was at a party where the blindfolded person kissed the person they caught, whether boy or girl. Fortunately, I caught Winifred Healy, who I lost to the convent in her late teens. As a teenager, it was common practice to frequently blind-date the friend of a friend's girlfriend.
In fact, I've been on that many blind dates, I could easily have qualified to receive a guide dog. My first blind date was in my fifteenth year of life.The venue was the Cleckheaton 'Savoy Picture House' (only posh-nosh called them cinemas in those days). One would be shown to their seat by an usherette in the darkest of dark atmospheres. You would be watching the film with your friend, when suddenly, a stray hand might accidentally touch yours, tenderly. Unsure of whether the hand belonged to someone attractive or a stand-in for the 'back of a bus' (as we chauvinistic males of the 1950s called the less attractive girl at the time), we would hold the stranger's hand in a fanciful flight of thought of things to come. If we were lucky when the lights came on during the interval, our seated companion next door would smile charmingly at us, which usually meant, 'You're not bad. Go on then, buy me and my mate an ice cream before the film comes back on'. Our pockets would be emptied (including our busfare home), as we outlaid the required fourpence down-payment on our expected return dividend when the lights next dimmed.
Sometimes, if we were lucky in love, we received an arm around the shoulder. I'm sure that our arms were longer in those days to compensate for the length of the distance they would be expected to travel in dark picture houses. One would cautiously place one's arm on the nearest shoulder of the girl you wanted to neck (now you know where that 1950 phrase came from), and in a snail-paced movements of an inch a minute, slowly stretch around passed their head and towards their second shoulder in the hope that you would eventually reach first base without getting stumped! This romantic first move required patience and taste. There was never anything forceful or Harvey Weinstein about it. Get stopped in your tracks and the boy slowly retreated, but if no movement of female restraint was forthcoming, it could be safely assumed that consensual agreement was present regarding the direction of travel. If a boy was very lucky he would always reach first base and go for a home run!
Sometimes, one's reward would be a sweet kiss. To tell the truth though, more often than not, it was a big female scam to get some daft mug to buy them and ice cream. Five minutes after the ice cream had been devoured, your next-door dream girl would make some pretence to visit the toilets with her friend and that would be the last you saw of her! Since the modern introduction of dating sites and the internet today, it seems to be some males who have taken over the scams that are presently operating on the internet, targeting lonely women in search of a lifelong mate, who instead foolishly latch on to some male scammer who's determined to rob them of their life savings. None ever seem content in relieving the poor scammed woman of a mere fourpence anymore!
My first foray into the intimacies of sexual contact was more of a fumble in a shop doorway on the estate where I lived than on a feathered bed. I'd had too much alcohol to drink at the time and could hardly stand.
I have heard of marital blindness; a condition that is said to prevail when one spouse is unable to ever see beyond the good looks of their spouse to give their marriage any chance of ever being successful. I have also heard of 'The wise man's marriage' which is said to be common in West Yorkshire and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. In these two geographical English locations, the newly-wed man is advised by more seasoned married mates that every man's marriage works best and lasts longest when the wife is made blind to her husband's faults and he remains deaf to her constant nagging.
In later life when I worked as a mill manager, I discovered that belief can often blind a good person to the truth. On one particular shift, I saw one man do something wrong that resulted in damage to a large amount of cloth. Instead of taking responsibility and owning up to his mistake, he blamed it on a co-worker who was operating the same machine at his side. Naturally, the worker, who had done no wrong, refused to take the blame for the damage caused by the other man. It looked like a case in which man one believed to be telling the truth, in order that the miscreant could be duly dealt with.
Both workers were liked and disliked by their fellow workmates markedly differently and with equal intensity. One was regarded as the most popular workmate in the mill, and the other, the most disliked worker in the mill. The worker who I saw from a near distance do the accidental damage was the most popular workmate in the mill, and his co-worker who was faultless was the most disliked and unpopular mill worker.
Because it was the most popular man in the mill who claimed it was the other man who was in the wrong, he was the one his workmates believed without a second thought, whereas the less popular man was instantly disbelieved. That incident taught me that not only do good people do bad things sometimes, but that disbelief is often a thing founded on the blind belief in somebody/something else.
For a number of years as a Probation Officer, I worked with an unsighted Probation Officer in the Dewsbury office called David. When I first met David he said, 'I'd rather be blind at birth than have sight and fail to see the beauty in the world. Just because I'm blind and cannot see good deeds being enacted around me, doesn't mean that they aren't happening. I know that people are in the main good and kind to others. I know because I daily experience it!' David had a beautiful philosophy of life and was lots of fun to work alongside. I am pleased to say he was deservedly promoted to the post of Senior Probation Officer.
In later life, I gradually grew to accept that because things appear and remain in our mind, more often than not what we believe them to be, that the experience between one person and another; their happiness, ability to trust, the overall level of satisfaction and contentment, varies greatly. Facts and outcomes are invariably established and maintained by one's belief and can only be dispelled by either incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, or by changing one's beliefs and value set!
My love of reading biographies also led me to understand that 'eyesight' runs a poor second to 'insight'. I discovered that it was poetry that John Milton first saw when he went blind in 1660. It was only after losing his sight that Milton completed most of his major works of literary genius.
Today, most new relationships, particularly those entered into by people over thirty, are first found on the social dating sites of the internet. Surely, such can only represent blind faith in the accuracy of their profile and in the judgement of mutual compatibility existing. This is invariably more likely to represent 'blind hope' than 'sound judgement', but not always so, I would add.
Too many successful and failed relationships between two people in search of lasting love can testify to the dangers of taking that leap in the dark. For some, it can result in emotionally crashing to the ground and remaining scarred and broken for many years after before finding one's wings of hope again. But for others, the leap of faith in the dark can result in landing in a relationship of true light; where honesty, emotional expressiveness, faithfulness, love and the respect of a lifelong relationship and soul mate is found.
It has often been said that love can be blind to your lover's faults and tolerant of his many areas where some change can witness much-needed improvement. Please note the gentleman in me these days when I assume that it is usually the man where change is most needed and not his partner. Thank God it is, or else chaps like me could never hope to get their arm all the way around their cinema companion without progress being gently halted, as your Sheila gets up to buy you an ice cream in the interval!" William Forde: March 4th, 2018.