All Hail Pocket! An Article by Red Szell

As lockdown eases, so my diary starts to fill up. Friends and family I haven’t met up with for ages have begun to plan evenings out, and theatres and music venues are taking bookings again.

Of course, Pocket has filled some of the gap over the past months, with its wealth of books, podcasts, magazines and radio stations. And I recently discovered that I can even use it to join Zoom meetings! Admittedly this is only via audio (and not video), but hey, if I can’t see the other participants, do they really need to see me?!

But there really is no substitute for meeting up with people in person, or to attending live performances. So, in the last couple of weeks, I’ve found myself using the Google Home device I’ve got through RealSam more and more. It’s brilliant at helping me trawl the Internet for information about upcoming gigs and plays. And often it proves much quicker to search for the contact number of a venue or gastropub than calling Directory Enquiries; and it’s free!

I’ve also found RealSam’s easy access to the latest updates on Covid restrictions, and how they affect blind and partially sighted people in particular, really helpful in allowing me to make informed decisions on what I should sign up for and when.

As my diary fills up, I also find myself setting more and more Reminders on my Pocket, which has already saved me the embarrassment of failing to meet a potential client for coffee last week!

We had agreed to meet at a new café I’d never visited before. But after I’d Googled the address and got my Home device to read me the street name and number a couple of times, I was able to use Pocket’s Locations function to get me to the right road, and then counted down the numbers till I was standing outside the correct door! I even remembered to save it as a Locations landmark for future use!

Another Pocket function I am finding invaluable while we are still all required to sit outside, is the ability to check the weather forecast. More than once over the past fortnight I have been the warmest and driest person sitting round a beer garden table.

And just this afternoon, though the sun was blazing through my office window, I took the wise precaution of asking Pocket ‘what’s the weather forecast for the next two hours in North-west London’, only to be told that a hailstorm was predicted in the next 30 minutes. I rang my friend and suggested we take a rain-check, and then listened gratefully as Pocket played me the latest In Our Time podcast while hailstones bounced off the window.