Friday, 14 April 2017

I Inspect The Small Print

Yesterday, I had my eyes tested.  I'd received a voucher and I'm a sucker for a free offer, and I've noticed a deterioration when reading, so I'd booked myself an appointment.

The optician engaged me in witty banter about my occupation, wondered whether I could teach him anything.  I doubted it.  I suspected he was bored, weary of repeating the various tests in a windowless room - puffing air into my eyes to test for glaucoma; photographing an image of my eyeball; and then getting me to read traditional letter charts.  I felt, seeing as I was a non-paying customer, that I had to be amenable, so I expressed my concern about the length of time it takes for NHS fees to be paid (up to a year), and I chuckled when he suggested I read the row second from the bottom which was to all intents and purposes illegible.  As for the bottom row, it was a series of fuzzy dark rectangles. 

Slipping various lenses into the frames sitting on my nose, the optician asked me if they improved (or disproved) my vision.  In the interests of being helpful, I gave answers which sounded like disclaimers on advertisements for financial services, "Well, that one makes the letters easier to read but they all have a shadow which is a bit distracting so it may improve my vision,  or make it worse, depending on other factors."  But I was cut short.  Did the lens make it better or worse?  Yes. Or No?

I came out with a prescription and went to the desk.  A short discussion about glasses ensued, and I said I'd wait to visit with my son, so he could help me choose frames.  I was (secretly) thinking that I possibly wouldn't bother after all, glad that my eyes (though a bit worse for seeing print so small I probably wouldn't really need to see it) had been declared healthy.

At the moment I was asked to pay for the test I produced my voucher from my bag with a modest sense of triumph at my organisation.  "That'll be £25.00 please," the assistant said.  I looked at the voucher again.  I read it properly for the first time. 

Free Eye Test 
with every new purchase of glasses.

Perhaps it's not my eyesight that's the problem.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

I Increase The Volume

There are times when nothing will address the condition of being human, this particular experience of being human, except very loud music. So the volume's up, and it's Mahler 7.  Because Mahler 7 is sweeping, exhilarating, soulful, poignant, mad, grandiose, wild, melodramatic, experimental, desperate and sincere. 

Why the Mahler, and the volume?  (I expect my neighbours are asking the very same).

If I tell you that today, on "I'm Still A Mother A Week After Mothering Sunday Sunday", my younger son gave me a present of my words (This Is Not To Exaggerate) set to his music (for Soprano Solo and String Quartet) - if I tell you this, you'll know why I have felt like bursting from the sheer pleasure at the fulfilment of one of my deep desires (to have my words set to music by my son) and at the sheer terror at the fulfilment of one of my deep desires (to have my words set to music by my son).

It's exhilarating, it's terrifying, this joy.  There's so much love in it, and there's so much I cannot express.  So I'm listening to Mahler, who seems to know how I feel.

I wrote This Is Not To Exaggerate coming out of deep loss and grief, and out of the relief of being able to speak about it: its coming to me was a gift - it was enough to be able to articulate it, but it was another gift to have the poem recognised by people I trust and admire.

And then this, my son's music: another gift, another joy, another transformation.