What d'ya wanna make those eyes at me for?

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 26 July 2007

I had to get dressed today as I had an appointment at the opticians. I put on a pair of trousers that were loose enough to pull down when I needed to without having to undo the button or zip. Which was nice.

I put in my contact lenses, first time since April, and applied some posh lipstick and mascara. Which was nice.

Then I wore some fancy shoes that rubbed a bit but were casual and flowery. Which was nice.

Then I drove into T'wells.

I've got a moth that has taken up residence in my little red car. There are those who would tell me to roll up a newspaper and kill it but I can't. I'm like the Hindus with their sacred cow. I have no desire to commit murder. The moth flutters around the cab and terrifies me in case it gets in my line of vision. It's a big orange thing with a massive head. Where it lives when the car is parked is anybody's guess, It's a bit like Schroedinger's cat. When I'm not in the car, and it gets dark in the garage, does the moth still exist? Or does it only materialise when I get into the car and turn on the ignition? Only Mr.Moth and Mr. Schroedinger will ever know.

Anyway, Mr. Moth (I'm assuming he's a he but she may be a Mrs. Moth for all I know) and I drove through the traffic and parked opposite the Italian shop that has closed down because of the arrival of a baby boy. It's taken them all by surprise. Making fresh pasta everyday and looking after a new born has obviously taken the biscotti because the windows are papered over and the shelves empty.

I walked to the optician and bought a pair of reading glasses to go with my lenses. Not in an accessorising sense, but to enable me to make out little print. You see, my lenses give me an overview. I need readers to help me see what's in front of my nose. My mascaraed eyelashes were so long - and yes, unlike Penelope Cruz and L'Oreal, I am telling you the truth - that they pressed up against my new royal blue frames. But I bought them anyway 'because I'm worth it'.

Aileen Elizabeth Sawers Boptom MCIotim came down and collected me from the reception. We went upstairs to her little room: Two desks, three machines, a picture rail round the walls and a mirror. No more projected letters on a screen. Oh, no! Those ever-decreasing lines are now digitalised. Aileen said it was state of the art. It didn't make a blind bit of difference to me because either way I can't read them.

After the first two massive lines, which a myopic bat with stigmata could read, I make it up. All the 'd's looked liked 'g's, all the 'h's looked like 'k's and everything else looked like the first two pages of the Torah. I had an Irish girlfriend who used to memorise the letters in case she got them wrong. She came from a Jesuit background, sticklers for education. She didn't realise that getting the letters wrong was right, so she learnt them by heart so she could pass her eye exams with flying colours. By the time she was a teenager, she was practically blind. Those Jesuits, eh?

I sat down in the big black 'Mastermind' chair. Ms Sawers switched off the lights. I half expected John Humphries to ask me my profession and chosen subject. Have you noticed how the contestants all have funny walks, and then they have to make their way to that big black chair without any accompanying music. It's like dining with strangers and having to listen to their mouth mechanics as they eat. You would think the BBC could provide a little background atmosphere for them to sashay to as they take their seat. After all, what do we pay our licence fee for?

Anyway, I sat very still in the chair as Aileen handed me the 'trial frames' to put on. You know the ones - they make you look like an educationally challenged Stan Laurel.

Aileen slipped a lens in the left eye holder and told me to read the keratometer, which measures the curvature of the front of the eye. The red and green shapes get clearer, or darker, fuzzier or brighter depending on what disc she drops into the slot. There is always the chance that you may answer incorrectly and go out with a pair of milk-bottle tops that make you look like Mr. Little from Little and Large. All questions are asked very gently with the same non-committal intonation whilst all answers end with an upward inflection - a kind of begging approval.

'Which is clearer? The green or red?', asked flatly. 'Green?', with just a hint of desperation.

Then the optician points her torch up at the picture rail. Each instruction said s-l-o-w-l-y and c-l-e-a-r-l-y. Then, like a South American torturer, the bright light is shone directly into your eyeball. All instructions are repeated E-X-A-C-T-L-Y the same for the other eye. The measured pace would try the patience of Saint Augustine who himself said 'Patience breeds Patience'. Well, he has never been to my optician. Then the ophthalmoscope is wheeled over. Chin on the chin-rest and young Ms Sawers looks right into your soul, checking that all your eye bits are in perfect working order. Checking that the lens hasn't got denser and thicker with age. I always knew it but now it's been confirmed: the older I get, the thicker and denser I become. Ms Sawers said so and she's got an 'ology from Cambridge so she should know.

Then it's up and three paces over to the tonometer. Now, this used to be operated by hand. The optician would wait until you were perfectly relaxed then freak the hell out of you by puffing air into your naked eyeball to measure its pressure. Now the machine is automated. It adjusts to your position and quite callously blasts a puff of air onto your eyeball. No emotion, no empathy, just an automated 'phouff' without any sentiment. Very 21st Century, don't you think?

I couldn't believe my eyes when I got the bill, although they had just been examined, and seeing is believing, as Ms Sawers would say.

Back home to walk the dog briskly. It was cold and grey today. The wind whipped up and it felt like November. The oats in the fields have been flattened by the rain and the cob nuts have been blown of the trees. The squirrels had better get picking them up soon otherwise they'll have nothing for their winter store.

I nipped into the Twillage to buy dog and cat food then it was off to hear some music in the Pantiles.

There were several people gathered around tables, ordering food, drinking wine and pretending that it was the Montreaux Jazz Festival and 22 degrees in the shade.

Unfortunately it was freezing and not unlike Eastbourne in February when the tide is out and all the coach parties have gone home to have a Radox bath. I was so cold I ordered bangers and mash and a hot chocolate. Not together, you understand. There were at least three saxophone solos between them.

I left at 10.00 and stepped into the cottage, put on the central heating and stepped out of my clothes in the bathroom. You see, had I been wearing my pj's, I could have kept them on and stepped into my bed.

Anyway, it is now 12.30. The world has gone to bed and I need to walk Jackson to the end of the drive to do his stuff. I bought a new torch today which I fixed to the wall. Jim is going to be horrified. I hammered two holes in the wall, big enough to put rawlplugs into, whatever they're called, But I had to make another big hole and make a re-adjustment because the torch wouldn't fit under the wok. I tried to get in the screws but they didn't really hold so I squirted superglue behind the plastic fitment. Trying to get it off will pull half the wall away. And what if we want to to move? Jim will kill me when he reads this. I can see him putting his head in his hands and wondering why he didn't marry Barry Bucknall. It would have been a happier partnership - they could have talked about screwing all night whilst comparing their nuts.

Nuff said. Night night. Cusoon.

Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes

Comments

1. At July 28, 2007 5:47 PM Sally from Bucks wrote:

I'm still giggling! Who else would remember Barry Bucknall - a vague memory from my early childhood - thought I'd be the only one!
Looking forward to LBC and hearing your dulcit tones again! Break a leg, Jen.
Sally xxx

2. At July 28, 2007 5:48 PM David wrote:

Jenni,
You really are a tonic, I love reading your diary it's so human and everyday stuff it makes me feel quite 'sane'

3. At July 28, 2007 11:12 PM Jason wrote:

Heard most of the show today [internet kept loosing the the connection to the live stream] was great to hear you getting sloshed just like you did on the telly box :-) i think this is gonna become an integral part of my saturday evenings now. can't wait for next week. good thing Dr Who has finished as i had to listen to the last 40mins from the sky box, wouldn't have been able to get near it if the Dr was on. Maybe i'll get up the nerve to call in next week. depending on your chosen subjects that is.

4. At July 28, 2007 11:37 PM Trevor wrote:

Hello Jenni,
Well,I stumbled across your blog quite by accident yesterday and find myself here again!
Had to laugh about the moths and the visit to the opticians.Found myself saying "yes" to things you said!
Expect I'll be back to read some more of your diary.It's very entertaining.
Look after yourself.

5. At July 29, 2007 11:56 AM Sally from Bucks wrote:

Well, Jen, you were absolutely brill yesterday, it was quite like the good old GFL days - such a shame I'm away for a couple of weeks so will miss you. Have been invited to a BBQ in California - it had better be worth it! I'll have a laptop so will be able to read your blog and have a giggle with you.
Luvya, Sally xxx

6. At July 29, 2007 2:04 PM bubbles wrote:

keep making me smile jen, i need it. no water here in good old cheltenham so please try not to mention having a bath too often. im so envious!!

7. At July 29, 2007 8:05 PM Jane May wrote:

Thank you Jeni. You made me laugh out loud! And I really needed it. Brilliant tonic reading your blog - which I check on most every day. So very glad you're on this crazy planet called earth! lotsalove.

8. At July 30, 2007 12:49 AM janeyb wrote:

Hi Jeni, forgot to read your blog yesterday but remembered to listen to bits of your radio prog, sorry couldn't listen to all of it as I was cooking Trout and concentrating very hard on trying to flake almonds. I learnt a lot from GFL but couldn't remember how to flake almonds so I just chopped them a bit. It was all very nice. (The funny thing is my partner and I went to our local resevoir to 'see how it was fishing' (it's something men do) and this chap gave us this trout, it probably cost him about 20 to catch it and it took him all day and at the end of it he gave it to us as neither him or his wife liked fish..............Weird.
I was having that eye test with you, it's funny to think that it's the same all over the country, I'm so afraid of getting the answers wrong and then I too have to remember that's what it's for. It's a bit like my old hearing tests when you had earphones on and you had to tap a ruler on the table when you heard a certain noise, at points it must have sounded like I was tapping out an important message in morse code, I was so afraid of missing anything!!!! I've learnt but alas I got the old hearing aid anyway but it still makes me laugh! The best bit though was when they fit you with your new hearing aid and then look at you all expectant for a few minutes and then ask you if it's all right. I rebelled once and said how the hell do I know we're in a sound proof room and nobodys talking.......Help!! I'm rambling. I do so look forward to your blog. I also have a confession to make......I've started watching that food prog on ITV at 2pm with AWT (when I'm not working) and do you know all your old mates are on it.
Please keep making us laugh.
Janeyb

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