Growing up, I watched every soap opera going. Corrie, Eastenders…plus, all the Aussie ones (Prisoner Cell Block, with Bea on the press being a particular fave). And then Alexis et al, bitch fighting in their finest shoulder pads and diamonds. I loved, watched, and obsessed about it all! After all, what else was there to do in the eighties? No Netflix, internet, and with only a computer which took the entirety of dinner time to load – well, the FOUR channel telly was our friend.
Like the Waltons around the ‘wireless’, we’d sit down as a family, and watch our daily fix of drama – all recorded onto VHS (we ditched the Betamax as you couldn’t hire any good films in it) – and watched them all between our pub opening hours.
The more ridiculous the storyline the better. The weirder the character – or funnier even. And then there were the gorgeous Aussie pinups that we all wanted to date on Summer Bay beach. Mum, Dad, Nana, and Grandad: it united us all. We particularly liked a good juicy affair, punch up and cheeky one liner; Dad’s interest being piqued by sayings such as ‘she’s one sandwich short of a picnic’…
But then I grew up and lost my television stamina. Enjoying doing stuff and being busy. Although, there was still time for some old favourites – I had a particular fondness for Corrie, with its beautifully written comedy and realistic presentation of Northern life – but then, I found that they were becoming depressing. Favourite characters would be killed off, given cancer, go through devesrating life changes…my life was dramatic enough. I switched off. I could no longer cry real tears for fictional characters. I needed laughter.
An example being, one of my favourite characters: Jonny in Corrie. When he first made his appearance on the cobbles, he had a lightness and energy about him. His relationships with those around him were heart warming and I found him a relatable character. However, as I watched his character descend into the usual pitfalls of a soap opera life, I turned off the final soap.
This week, the RNIB and Retina UK both shared the story of Corrie dealing with the storyline of Charles Bonnet Syndrome. Something which I have suffered with for many years. A condition, which is said to affect 30% of people living with sight loss.
CBS is where people suffer hallucinations, due to the brain having to recalibrate as the eye is not able to send the expected information it requires. These hallucinations can be ‘simple’ in the way that a sufferer might just see patterns like bricks, mosaics etc. (I have these daily). And more dramatic ones, which are called ‘complicated’. These are where you can see all sorts of normal to weird and wonderful things (my most recent being a dragon popping over the sand dunes – not the Sue Perkins one may I add!).
After suffering silently for many years, I was told about CBS, at a sight loss meeting. Imagine my surprise when I learnt it was normal to see a lady floating, or a bat flying across the room. All perfectly normal and it didn’t mean I was going slightly mad (a matter of opinion you might say).
Finding out about CBS enabled me a reboot. Used to feeling isolated and slightly unhinged, my anxiety levels were always high. Especially when I couldn’t rely upon what I was seeing 100% of the time. You see, not only did the fear of missing a handshake, or walking into a table freak me out, so did my worry that I’d talk about something that wasn’t really there…
I googled the storyline. Jonny has MS, he’s in prison, and he has CBS – which is leading him to hallucinate his dead son Aidan.
Poor Jonny. I’m glad I turned off when I did. It sounds like his life has gone from bad to worse.
Awareness is everything though, and hats off to Corrie for talking about something which affects 30% of visually impaired people – a third and we know nothing about it. That’s over 100000 in the UK fact fans!
Therefore, if you see me twitch or go a funny colour, I might be trying to process something you can’t see…that’s okay though. There’s lots I can’t see, but there’s lots others don’t understand too. Upshot being: we all need a bit of understanding.
These hallucinations are just an illusion: no voice, no smell, it can’t communicate with me…Over time, I’ve learnt to find it all rather entertaining. I’m not to worry, freak, or feel silly; I’m just lucky. Who else gets such a live show?
The soaps might not be my thing anymore, but they have a place. 9 million viewers tell us this…they can make you laugh, cry and tackle lots of issues too. They are a good platform for showing the masses previously unknown issues. Meanwhile, whilst Jonny eat al. teach the masses about hidden battles, I’ll be drafting my own drama, with the unfolding story of the Golden Figure…Out later this year.
And if you haven’t already, you can find my debut novel on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08TB4ZY9B/ref=cm_sw_r_wa_apa_iiQcGbE0EEK7N