16th October 2013

The weather really has started to change but as I mentioned last week, it is effectively the start of the run up to the festive season, my favourite time. Not that I condone the early promotion of Christmas. I personally think that the selling of Christmas cards and playing of carols in shops should be banned until the end of November. Bah humbug you may say, but honestly, that is not the case! I just like the build up to Christmas.

This week we were invited to the Guide Dogs for the Blind civic day in Leamington. This is part of an annual advertising campaign to promote their good work. It was a fascinating day with more civic heads (read chains of office) attending than seen in one place before – allegedly. (Personally I think our Civic Service was well attended too). The day was split in two with presentations in the morning and then a hands on session in the afternoon. The presentations included a talk by a Chief Inspector from Northampton. He discussed the growing issue of dog attacks on guide dogs. Apart from the sheer horror and physical consequences of an attack, both the blind person and dog can be traumatised. Worse the blind person cannot see it coming and the dog is trained not to leave the handler. A very distressing event. A number of such attacks are from banned breeds so this is an area the police are focusing on. Another area of concern is the plethora of ‘A’ boards outside shops on streets. To a blind person, older person or mother with pram or buggy, this is like a slalom course. Shops need to advertise but there should to be a responsible way to do this.

In the afternoon we were invited to use a white stick to feel our way around a part of the premises. Later on we had the opportunity to go around a short course with a guide dog. You just have to let go your concerns and trust in the dog. It was quite an enlightening experience.

Completely different was the High Sheriff’s Civic Service at Warwick – one of the earliest morning church services of the year! This service celebrates the start of the legal year and as a consequence the place was filled with Judges and QC’s. I had to ask the inevitable question of a High Court Judge; if there is a legal year do the criminals have a start of the criminal year? No answer to that one!