Monday, 31 October 2011

Sorry. I haven't got me glasses on.

Its not as if a human body has a documented specification. Oh, more or less we know what it should do, what is acceptable average performance, the same way we know most cars should go up any hill on a motorway in at least fourth gear. Ok, some will go up Toghill (a notorious long hill north of Bristol historically used by 1960s bikers to test the power of their machines) in fifth and still accelerate, whereas others, like my old van, may struggle embarrassingly in third.
Bodies are similar. Generally it is accepted that it is vaguely symmetrical in distribution of limbs and sense organs and most should allow the owner to run for the proverbial bus if required.
But some bodies are not built to this plan, or end up through misfortune being unable to perform the tasks a "healthy individual" is expected to be able to perform. There are various opinions on this and it is not my intention to wander into that particular minefield.

Being one of the lucky people who had my full quota of legs, arms and ears, and being reasonably aquainted with the use of them through the medium of dance and other physical passtimes, I suppose I always came to expect this machine that comprises me to do more or less what it was "supposed" to do. And generally it has. Ok, I find running long distance hard, but then I am a large lump of mobile meat with mostly fast twitch muscle fibres. But in all else, I more or less conform to the spec.

So, when I found one day that, sat in a foggy layby on the A9, just outside Munich, I could not read the map, I was initially mildly confused. "Gosh!" quoth I to myself "Its a pain in he bum the way google puts a blue line on your route so it obscures the road numbers!" And I blundered my way to my hotel via my own natural and somewhat flawed navigational skills.

But then, the jibes from the kids about how I was holding books further and further away at arms length starting ringing some bells and I was reminded of a morning in Plymouth once when we finally persuaded my own dear father to buy a pair of reading glasses as they made him "look like Harrison Ford". And his resultant "Bloody hell! I can read the paper with these on, Em!" to his very patient wife, was a revelation to him and a relief to us.

And now, suddenly, here I am, eyesight failing, squinting at my screen because "I forgot me glasses!" Pitiful!

So, now, and I know this is not a good long-term strategy, I buy +1.25 reading glasses where ever I see them cheap, and I leave pairs of them in all the usual places. It's something else to remember, but it does obviate that tiresome lack of detail that otherwise bedevils any close-up scrutiny of books or objects requiring tiny screwdrivers. As yet, the attrition rate of my reading glasses is quite high: pairs sat upon, pairs sliding off onto the garage floor and smashing, pairs lost in hotel rooms. But at a fiver a pair, its not so bad, even if some of them are a bit naff in design (especially the letterbox black framed pair that was £2.49 from lidl which make me look decidedly "continental").

And function is restored. Ok. I can cope! Some have glasses from birth and can never see properly without them. I was lucky.
But! This is the first sign of the inevitable decline into incontinence and delapidation. Ok, I have most of my own teeth (I lost one during a less than honourable exchange in Gloucester in my callow youth. careless of me certainly. But porcelain is pretty close to tooth enamel in appearance and few would know).
Of course, there is the sudden intrusive growth of eyebrow, standing like the spears of Xerxes army as they marched out of Persia. And the ear hair thing. Why do I need hair in my ears suddenly at 35. Surely infants need to keep out insects too? But so far, everything still works.
And now my eyes ar eletting me down. What next? Erectile disfunction? Male pattern baldness? I don't like it one bit! It's the thin end of the wedge as i am now old enough to be qualified to say.
But as my old mate Dave, philosopher and natural scientist he is, "I am 48 . I have most of me own teeth and I can sleep through the night without having to get up for a wee!" so we should be grateful for small mercies. A couple of hundred years ago, I would have been dead by now anyway, through TB, small pox or the ague.

So, I squintingly accept the inconvenience of my specs and assign a pocket in my jacket accordingly. And if the increased definition that they bring should alert me with unnerving clarity to the extra wrinkles I can now see in the mirror, then so be it. Cough hack wheeze grizzle moan..



I put my glasses on about twice a year. I spend the first 20 minutes exclaiming "bloody hell, everything looks so sharp!" before putting them back in the case. I can only wear jewellery for brief periods too. SO uncomfortable.
I wish scientists would hurry up with this stem cell technology. Just grow me some new eyes and skin as age damages everything.
Funny how we spend the teenage years and our twenties abusing our bodies, then the rest of the time trying to repair it.

Genius Loci said...

At times like this I always recite Dylan Thomas to myself, repeatedly. 'Rage, Rage against the Dying of the Light!' I hate those ear hair things that keep popping up all of a sudden, too. Urgh.

Librarian said...

Ever since I was six and a half years old, I had to wear specs, so that's nothing new to me, and I have gotten used to it over the past 35 1/2 years. Generally, my body still does pretty much what I tell it to do, but I do get a warning every now and then, and nowadays I try to be more regular in my habits where sleep and exercise and food are concerned. It pays off; at least it does for me, and I intend to keep it that way for some more years to come.