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Visionary ideas

When I grew up, I wanted to be an engine driver. Still do in fact. But my parents palmed me off with a train set, packed me off to grammar school, and that was that.

When I grew up, I wanted to be an engine driver. Still do in fact. But my parents palmed me off with a train set, packed me off to grammar school, and that was that.

Alex, on the other hand, never shared his dads fascination with locomotives. Which is just as well, because the lad could not tell a red signal from a green one to save his life or anyone elses.

It was always on the cards. Janets father cannot tell red from green. So it seems that colour blindness, or colour vision deficiency if you prefer, runs in the family like grandfather, like grandson.

Not that Janets father considers it a deficiency. How do you know Im not seeing things as they really are? he says. Knowing him to have strong feelings on the subject, we quickly agree.

As for Alex,

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When I grew up, I wanted to be an engine driver. Still do in fact. But my parents palmed me off with a train set, packed me off to grammar school, and that was that.

Alex, on the other hand, never shared his dad’s fascination with locomotives. Which is just as well, because the lad could not tell a red signal from a green one to save his life or anyone else’s.

It was always on the cards. Janet’s father cannot tell red from green. So it seems that colour blindness, or colour vision deficiency if you prefer, runs in the family – like grandfather, like grandson.

Not that Janet’s father considers it a deficiency. ‘How do you know I’m not seeing things as they really are?’ he says. Knowing him to have strong feelings on the subject, we quickly agree.

As for Alex, he has inherited his grandad’s militancy along with his retinal differences. ‘It’s not a problem,’ he always says. ‘Maybe it’s you who’s got a problem.’

And given his lack of interest in trains and boats and planes, it was no problem, as long as people did not keep on about what he was supposedly missing.

Alex occasionally asks how I perceive the world. ‘Do you see that as green or red?’ he might say, pointing to a russet apple that in truth is something between the two.

Slowly, I have come to realise that he sees both red and green apples as more or less russet. But did it matter that life’s rich tapestry appears somewhat faded? I never thought so, until last week, when I carelessly drew his attention to an avenue of glowing November maples.

‘I don’t see why there’s so much fuss about autumn,’ he said. And why, indeed, would someone who sees green and red and all hues in between as a sort of brown fuzz, give two hoots about green leaves turning gold?

Sad, though, that my boy cannot see what autumn is. Almost as sad, in fact, as his dad not driving the Flying Scotsman.

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