I REMEMBER sitting in the waiting area of the eye department of the Western hospital in Glasgow in the late 90s. I’d been diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition that I still can’t spell. I was going blind.

There was a kind lady from a charity working the waiting room. Trying to raise moral. She comfortingly held my hand and reassuringly said: “It doesn’t matter what you have wrong with your eyes. You can be anything you like.”

This, of course, was absolute nonsense. But it was nice of her to try to cheer me up. All fun and interesting jobs need sight! Fighter pilot, surgeon, bull fighter. My employment life was going to be dull.

First, I was a fabric fitter in the BlindCraft bed factory in Aberdeen.

From nine in the morning till five at night I stapled fabric on to bed bases using an air-powered hydraulic staple gun. This thing was flipping lethal. It spat out staples like a machine gun. They let blind folk loose on them. Every ten minutes or so the constant rhythmic thudding of staple into wood was interrupted by an ear-piercing scream from one of my colleagues who’d just painfully bolted his or her hand on to the bed base. One time, I swear that I heard a body being dragged past.

I found out two things that year: I didn’t want to spend my life working in a bed factory, and I’m blood type B negative.

I changed tack. Swapped my blood-stained blue collar for a crisp white one. Got a job as a corporate banker in London. I worked for a Scottish bank. The incompetent one, not the nasty one. This was pre-credit crunch. When “banker” could be said without its rude rhyming couplet.

Suited and booted, with gloves hiding my staple stigmata hands, I entered the crotch-thrusting Red-Bull-chugging world of corporate finance.

It was rubbish! I don’t have much of a crotch to speak of and caffeinated drinks give me headaches. It was so boring! My spirit started to numb. At the very least a high-velocity staple through the hand lets you know you’re alive!

I feared this was my lot. Many disabled folk struggle to find employment. I was lucky. I should stop complaining and knuckle down and work for the bonus. YAWN!!!

Fortunately, close to the bank was the Comedy Cafe in Shoreditch. It’s not there anymore. I’ve always loved comedy. My brother and I were and are avid consumers of it. From Billy Connelly vids to Carry On movies, we love it.

I decided to have a crack at their open mic night. There is a common misconception about open mic spots. I assumed you’d rock up and get on. No way! When I finally plucked up the courage to go in and ask for one I was told I could have five minutes in seven weeks. I used this time to write my first set and freak out.

The night eventually arrived and, trembling, sweating, thinking maybe Aberdeen wasn’t so bad, I, with my pal Sophie, went to the club. It was run by an Irish guy with Tourette syndrome. He shook my hand while remarking loudly on Sophie’s breasts.

I don’t believe in omens, but no joke, there was another comedian on that night called Jamie MacDonald. He died on his hole – an industry term for not doing so well! I concluded that both Jamie MacDonalds couldn’t be terrible.

A few more acts went on to mixed receptions and then it was my go. The MC announced my name. Suddenly I was acutely aware of every nerve and muscle in my body. My limbs lost power and co-ordination. My tongue doubled in size. My jaw set. My bowels melted and my forehead and top lip both decided it would be a good time to start sweating. Sophie helped me on to THE stage. The MC put the mic in my hand and faced me on to the silent, expectant crowd.

Heart hammering, I folded my white stick up, took a breath, looked baffled and opened with: “This isn’t the f***ing toilet.”

It went well and I’m now a pro comedian! I’ve done six Fringe shows, been on a good few radio and TV shows, spoke at the Oxford student union and am proud to say that I am the first blind person to appear on a TV panel show. Thank you, Breaking The News.

So, if I had the chance to speak to younger me in that waiting room now? I’d say: “You can’t do anything you’d like, but you don’t have to do anything you hate.”

You can catch Jamie’s 2020 Fringe work-in-progress show in the Glasgow Stand on Sunday January 19 at 6pm, and follow him on Twitter @FunnyBlindGuy