(When it comes to Lions I seem to have drawn the short straw this month. First I was on the rota for the book fair, then there was a meeting to discuss the proposal that the club should take over a classic motorcycle run, then bingo for the residents of one of our blocks of flats, and next week I'm the duty driver for the stroke club transport.)
It just so happened that the blind club meeting and the bingo session were on consecutive evenings - and that was the cause of the trouble. The two became inextricably entangled in what passes for my mind. I don't mean that I took the blind people to the bingo session 24 hours early or anything quite as daft as that, but what came into my mind was almost as daft. 'What if...' I thought (yes, it's that dreaded "what if" again!). 'What if we were to run a bingo evening at the blind club?'
I know just what you're thinking. 'He's fallen off his trolley,' or something like that. 'How,' you ask yourselves, 'can blind people mark off their bingo cards when they can't see the numbers?' If you'll just exercise a little patience all will be revealed.
Most of the people who attend the Tuesday Club (as this particular club is called due the meetings being held on Tuesdays) are registered blind. In fact, they are all registered blind but most have a degree of sight albeit very small. Most of them can read the numbers on cloakroom tickets even if they do have to hold the tickets about three inches from their eyes or use strong magnifying glasses. Those with no sight at all and the ones who would have any real difficulty could have a sighted helper. It shouldn't be impossible, I thought, to obtain large print bingo cards. Say about A4 in size (for readers unfamiliar with European paper sizes that is approximately 11½ inches by 8¼). A quick Internet search showed that this was indeed possible. Large-print bingo cards could be bought from, amongst other places, the Royal national Institute for the Blind. They also sold little plastic cups to placed over numbers called so the cards could be re-used. The cost wasn't unreasonable and was certainly something the Lions Club could afford.
I continued thinking. The cups, I felt, were not really practicable as they could too easily be knocked after having been placed over the called numbers. Felt-tip pens in bold colours would be better: the Lions could afford to buy enough cards so that they needn't be re-used. Then I looked more closely at the description of the cards. They were (are) A5 size (half the size of A4) and had the numbers printed in a 48 point font. I didn't really think that was quite large enough. As I said, I had in mind A4 size. Each sheet would be divided into 15 squares for the numbers, which would be in a very large font.
If I couldn't buy cards like this, I reasoned, I would have to produce them myself. I couldn't be that difficult. So I set to.
Sure enough, it was easy to set up a table 3 rows deep and 5 columns across and fit that to fill an A4 sheet in 108 point Verdana. All I have to do now is produce about 50 sets of four cards, each set different. I have "borrowed" a pile of standard bingo cards from the Lions' stock and have started copying the numbers. And what a mind-stultifying job it is! Surely there must be an easier way?
As I said at the beginning of this post, I will start these jobs without really considering just what is involved. But having started, I shall have to finish.
By the way - I've cracked the challenge I set myself last Sunday. The new pages aren't up on the web site yet: I need to wait until the club agrees to take this on and fix a date.