This is the story of how I came to own the, 'Jordie Princess'.
About nine years ago, a friend of mine and myself went down to Torquay to a place called Manor
House, which is owned by the RNIB. Fresh from college we were about to head off to university but
we felt that we needed a bit of education in terms of life independence and skills and Manor House in
Torquay was designed for this purpose. We were only eighteen and this was going to be the first time
that I was going to have a lengthy period away from home.
We got there and it was a massive, giant house. It's hard to put into perspective how big it was other
than to explain that the hallway in itself was probably the size and scale of my actual house but it was
a very grand and impressive place to go. It was especially designed for blind people, like myself and
my friend and therefore we could wander around freely without being worried about injuring ourselves
and just have a good explore really.
It wasn't long before we discovered many secret passages and servants staircases that had been
built years ago for us to explore and we had a great time discovering where all the different places led
us to. We also met quite a lot of new people there as well; we weren't the only ones staying there. It
was a good mixture of ages and genders and backgrounds and so on. It was great to mix with all
these different blind people and visually impaired people and get their life experiences but the main
social point for us all was a local pub called The Stumble Inn and this is where we all stumbled down
on regular occasions and somehow managed to find our way back, probably stumbling even more on
our way back than we were on the way down.
Regular jaunts to this pub certainly taught me and my friend about alcohol, as having just turned
eighteen we hadn't really started drinking but we were introduced to something called a 'Snakebite',
which is quite a potent cocktail of lager and cider I believe. Having drank several pints of this, we
would then be a bit more liberated I suppose and wander around the pub exploring and meeting lots
of interesting new people that were just in there that were local and probably having a quiet night out
until we joined them.
It just happened that whilst we were there it was actually my friend David's eighteenth birthday and as
had become traditional we decided to go to The Stumble Inn, even though they had already been
serving him several pints before that but we were quite bold and decided to go and tell them it was his
eighteenth birthday and see how they thought about it.
That particular obviously plenty of alcohol was consumed in celebration and I got talking to an
interesting gentleman who was a local and not entirely certain of how the conversation went, just
because it was a long time ago, obviously, nothing to do with the drink. However, at some point he
must have mentioned that he does carvings out of wood of various different objects and animals and
so on and I must have expressed an interest in this. He said to me, "I'll bring you some so you can
have a look and see what you think". He also in his mind must have put together that I was from the
Newcastle region because of my northern accent. I wasn't too sure where he'd gone but he'd gone
and the next thing he comes back and is handing me what I can only describe as a narrow boat made
out of wood and named the, 'Jordie Princess' and he's also got with it two carved elephants, not quite
sure why but he brought them as well and I had a good look at them and again, not entirely sure how
the conversation went, I ended up taking them back to the Manor House with me as a gift, I really
don't know why but he probably doesn't either actually, given that we were in a pub, he may have
actually woken up the next day wondering what had happened to them but he never saw me again so
he couldn't tell me.
So I've got this lovely boat. It's very well crafted and I've kept it and treasured it really and put it on my
windowsill at home and I've made sure I've dusted it and looked after it as best I can over the last nine
years. However, thinking back over what happened that night and remembering that it was my friend's
eighteenth birthday and we were quite happily telling everyone it was his eighteenth birthday,
something inside of me is now telling me that this boat was not actually meant for me at all but was
meant to be an eighteenth birthday gift for my friend and I was supposed to give it to him but having
been a bit drunk I don't quite remember, I certainly didn't remember at the time and I sort of feel as if
this boat doesn't really belong to me even though it has been mine for the last nine years.