Tonight I’m walking home through our lanes. It’s just stopped raining, and I come to a kind of T junction, and as I near it I can hear footsteps.
But when I emerge at the junction nobody is there. I can still hear the footsteps coming closer, as though a ghost approaching.
Now—vaguely scared—I’m scanning from side to side to locate the origin of the phantom footfalls, and for several seconds I’m bewildered.
Then suddenly I can see someone after all. They were in my blind spot and as I tried to locate them my eye movements got it wrong. I skipped too far. But now my radar is locked on, I no longer have any difficulty.
Throughout I have absolutely no inward experience of blindness. Over the two years since I had a stroke I’ve learned to compensate very well, and the remarkable ability of our brains to paper over the cracks means I hardly ever now feel I can’t see things.
But although the cracks don’t bother me, they are still just as wide as ever. And that’s why it would never be safe for me to drive, and I have to be really careful when moving about in busy spaces. I need to watch where I put things down too, in case they mysteriously vanish. And I would be terrible on a glacier.