RECENTLY, I caught up with my brother Jim, who seemed particularly pleased about being able to play golf again.

“Good for you,” I said.

“Who were you playing with?”

“Oh, just me and Richie.”

A long pause ... and then I queried: “Richie? Richie from the pub?”

“Yep, Richie.”

“But Richie’s registered blind.”

“I know.”

“But he cannae see?”

“I know.”

“Well, how can he hit the ball?”

“I guide him to the right spot, position the ball and point him in the direction of the hole and he’s good to go.”

I still couldn’t get my head around that one when Jim added: “Only downside is the slagging I get in the pub afterward if I’ve been beaten by a blind guy!”

The situation took me back to a dreary night after work a few years ago when I was waiting

at Queen Street station and suddenly the Tannoy crackled into life.

“We are sorry to announce the 20:00 hours Helensburgh to Airdrie train is cancelled.”

I slump back on the cold seat and turn to the elderly lady next to me and gesture towards the electronic noticeboard.

“Wonder how long we’re going to have to wait now then?” I say.

“Eh?” she replies.

“The train,” I gesture towards the sign again.

“I hope we’re not waiting for too long.”

“Eh?” repeats the lady, pointing to her ear and shaking her head.

I stand up and face the lady.

“CAN YOU NOT HEAR ME?” I inquire in a loud voice which echoes around the station.

“Eh?” she repeats yet again.

“We are sorry to announce that ALL trains are cancelled and apologise for any inconvenience,” the Tannoy booms.

The lady is none the wiser. She can’t hear and I attempt to update her.

“The trains are off,” I tell her, making hand motions which meant absolutely nothing to her.

How the heck do I get her to understand? I make lots of embarrassing body movements as if we’re playing charades. I shake my head from side to side and my hands are everywhere.

She shrugs, smiles and hasn’t a clue what I’m trying to say.

I start rummaging in my bag for a pen and paper, but I have none. I make writing actions hoping she has some, but she shakes her head.

Surely a deaf person would carry a pen and a scrap of paper, I wrongly assume.

I offer her my arm, lift her bag and head to the ticket office where I explain our dilemma to the guy behind the counter.

“Our trains are cancelled. This lady is deaf. I can’t abandon her on the platform. Do you have something to write with so that I can find out where she lives?” I ask him.

We find a seat and I hand the lady the pen and paper.

“Write down your address,” I mouth to her.

She scribbles on the paper and hands it to me. At last we’re getting somewhere.

However, I look at the piece of paper and everything is blurred. I hold it close and then far away but it’s no use.

“Wait till I get my glasses,” I explain. But no-one hears.

I rummage and rummage and realise I have none and it’s now time for my travel companion to get frustrated at me.

She can’t hear. I can’t see. What a predicament.

“I’ll phone a taxi,” I say slowly and loudly as if I’m in a foreign country. She nods.

Fifteen minutes to wait. I raise a hand and flicker my fingers open and shut three times.

She nods.

“What the heck do I do for 15 minutes?” I wonder, so I phone my friend to pass the time.

“She lives in Airdrie too, but I can’t make out her address as I’ve left my glasses in the office.”

“Good luck with that,” laughs my pal who doesn’t seem to grasp the gravity of my situation.

Finally, in the taxi.

“Where to?” asks the driver.

I tell him my address and explain the dilemma.

Halfway through our journey, the taxi windows are steamed up and my companion has a brainwave and starts to write her address in large letters on the condensation on the window.

Brilliant idea!

Hurrah, it’s big enough for me to read.

Soon we are at my house and I ask the driver to make sure she gets home OK.

I’m still rambling on when she leans over and gives me a big hug.

“Have a good night,” I say, smiling with relief at finally making it home.

Later, tired and pondering over our journey, my daughter phones and I tell her of my adventure.

With little sympathy she tells me: “You can fair talk mum. Are you sure she really was deaf?”

Ignoring her insult, I sit and consider how the world must be a very different place when you can’t hear or see and just how frustrating simple tasks are.

PS: I now carry glasses, a pen and a notepad at all times. Just in case.