Wednesday 10 September 2008

Dans Le Noir

On a rare quiet evening in the other night I decided to watch Freaky Eaters – a BBC programme that sorts out eating disorders of a less common kind. This particular episode featured a BBC DJ who was so afraid of fruit and veg that he couldn’t even say the words.

It was astonishing, but his cheekiness and determination, which eventually saw him not only cooking but eating a vegetable-laden meal, were incredibly endearing.

One of the treatments that his psychologist tried on him was taking him to a restaurant called Dans Le Noir, which is in Clerkenwell Green. The name translates literally as ‘In the dark’ and that’s exactly where you eat! I think the thinking behind it was that if this guy couldn’t see what he was eating, then he wouldn’t be able to freak out about it and might actually enjoy it. And that was exactly what happened. He even said something nice about the Savoy cabbage!

The idea behind the restaurant however, was not to cure freaky eaters but to instead give people some idea what it’s like to be blind – a concept that dates back to the 18th century when charitable foundations organised dinners in the dark to promote awareness about blindness.

The waiting staff at Dans Le Noir are all visually impaired and you are guided into the dark dining room by them. They actually have the advantage of knowing their way around the restaurant and the tables are turned from their experience in the outside world.

I do think this is a brilliant concept actually and if I wasn’t deaf, I would deafinitely be up for a visit. As it is, I think a visit there would be downright disasterous. Apart from for all the obvious reasons being that I wouldn’t be able to hear anything, I have an incredible fear of the absolute dark.

I can do nearly dark, street lit dark, eyes-will-get-used-to-it-in-five-minutes dark, but just not absolute dark. On the few occasions I have been faced with it, I have totally freaked out and found light again as quickly as possible.

Losing my sight has always been my biggest fear. When I was 16 and going steadily deafer, I used to pray every night that I would never go blind, too.

Well, perhaps I should face that fear and try out Dans Le Noir and see what it’s seeing nothing and hearing very little – it could be interesting to see, if without sight, my hearing improves…

Perhaps I’ll ask Fab Friend and we can try it out together.

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