Tuesday, 1 June 2010

The Vision Thing

It was a friend's birthday on Saturday and there was a big dinner to celebrate. Conversation turned - as more and more often it does these days - to the irritations of middle-aged decay. I was agreeing with several others that deteriorating eyesight is a complete pain and really annoying and totally vexing and how now, on top of all the hours in our lives that we've already wasted looking for keys, there's the added problem of the equally many and dull hours spent looking for glasses - or the risk of instant dementia if you take the plunge and get a string to hang them round your neck. Gloom was about to overwhelm the table, when someone said, 'It doesn't annoy me; it just makes me think how lucky I was to have such amazing eyesight for so many years.'

I was astonished. It had never occurred to me to think like that. It was a perspective I'd never seen things from before. It was an entirely new way of looking at things. It was a revelation.

Writing it down now, of course, I realise my friend's comment doesn't look all that original and perceptive. In fact, set down on the virtual page, it just seems trite.Yet the man who said it isn't a Pollyanna-goody-two-shoes type of person and he wasn't speaking smugly or with a kind of eye-glinting missionary zeal. He just genuinely thought that.

It's no good though - I can already hear the cynical sucking of teeth, the sniggering, the embarrassed throat-clearing up the back of the room. Well, in the face of such mulish opposition, all I can do is repeat the parting words of my headmistress at boarding school, after she'd hauled me into her office to tell me that if I didn't change my appalling - but unspecified - ways, I would be expelled. 'Do you know what I'm talking about?' she asked at the end of a long and - I won't deny it - not entirely uncritical lecture. 'No,' I said, with absolute truthfulness. 'That just shows how self-centred and egotistical you are. You can go now.'

And I did - I never was one to do anything at all but quake in the face of authority, obeying instructions with a meekness that has rarely been surpassed. That is why I, personally, think the whole incident was really a case of mistaken identity - she probably just got muddled and forgot she was in fact intending to make me head girl. Actually, maybe not. Whatever the case, I still maintain there was no justice in the incident. I mean surely, if there is someone in your charge who does allow absurdist despair to get in the way of team spirit occasionally (just occasionally) it should not be chastisement you offer but sympathy - or, at the very least, medication (and incidentally when did we stop taking medicine and start taking medication?)

Oh no, I can't start down that road, I haven't time to spend the entire day bemoaning the loss of English as we know it; I've got an overseas trip to organise (and, on that note, if anyone knows of good places to stay in Barcelona, all suggestions will be gratefully accepted - cool, [as in temperature] ideally; quiet a real plus).


  1. I have always had bad eyesight, but I stopped wearing glasses when I was 15 (for vanity reasons) - now I positively enjoy my fuzzy world, and really dislike it when I'm wearing my driving glasses and I see people I know, as suddenly all their wrinkles and blemishes hove into view. Fuzzy is great!

  2. I was in Barcelona in 2008 and I stayed at Ana's Guesthouse. It was very clean and reasonably priced, not too far away from things. The breakfasts were lovely and Ana was very helpful. Here's the website if you're interested


  3. Are you going anywhere else apart from Spain? I'm going to France next week and then on to Greece

  4. Worm - fuzzy is specially good where mirrors are concerned, I think. On your advice though I shall eschew the horrible things - specs, that is, not mirrors - entirely from now on. Should make for some interestingly spelt blog entries: ghjdls eiowrt hetkbrg dnf bgndr thie rhty9 dxjfd, don't you think?
    Nurse - I've just looked up Anas Guesthouse and thank you so much - it looks exactly what I want (my daughter's offered her own bed, but not sure making her sleep on the floor will add joy to the visit. And I wish I'd known you'd be in Greece - I nearly flew to Athens and then took a train onwards but lost my nerve when husband's work intervened and I was left to go alone. To think that I could have been fulfilling a long time dream and seeing the Parthenon and having a fun time with you and your cohorts. Damn - now Frankfurt's my outward destination, nuff said

  5. If you don't wear your specs Frankfurt will look lovely. Either that or get completely wasted - it worked for me when toiling at the Book Fair.

  6. Thanks Sophie - I shall take your advice and do both. With jet lag added to the mix, it should be an interesting experience.