I was worried – how could I not be worried, given the news reports of the rise and rise of new cases of Covid-19 across the UK? But my last eye-test was two and half years ago and my most recent pair of glasses continues to disintegrate after several repair attempts, and I have been trying to cope by using an older pair with an older prescription – but the truth is I can’t see what is happening in the world in a literal as well as metaphorical sense, so action needed to be taken.
During lockdown in the spring, I’d tried to buy replacement glasses by sending off details of my most recent prescription to an online optician but unfortunately I made the mistake of sending my distance prescription, not my prescription for reading glasses. Until the pandemic, I hadn’t realised the usefulness of being able to accurately read an optician’s prescription. It should be taught in schools! Then I had the rigmarole of returning them via post, during lockdown, which meant driving to the nearest collection point and handing them to an operative (a person, I think – but it was hard to tell) behind a glass door who appeared to be wearing a HazMat suit, possibly more than one. “Stand back! Drop the package! Step away from the building!” etcetera.
I persevered with my old glasses until I couldn’t stand it any longer. I tried to persuade my local optician, of a famous chain, to make me some new glasses using my most recent (July 2018) prescription but they said it was against the law (!!) to do this. I really didn’t want to book an eye-test inside an optician’s shop which is inside an inside shopping centre while cases are on the rise, so I decided to try a different, smaller optician’s, in Bristol, with a street-facing shop.
I’ve been to and from London on the train so this wasn’t my longest train journey. I’ve noticed that more people are wearing masks which makes me feel more secure. I realise and have sympathy for people who cannot wear masks for medical reasons, although I feel it is my right to avoid sitting near them in enclosed spaces.
Anyway, the optician’s shop was basically a bowl of steam with me swimming around inside it like a lost fish in a swamp – an ageing fish wearing goggles and a cheerfully-patterned . face covering. I have chosen some new glasses but I have no real idea what they or I look like in them. I took some photos with my phone but I am none the wiser.
I enjoyed being in Bristol, walking around the city. I had a coffee and croissant at an outside table in a café because I’d turned up too early for my appointment. The most striking part of the journey for me was that when I arrived at Bristol Temple Meads station and heard piped opera music – singing voices – something I haven’t encountered in a public place for what seems like the longest time. I don’t know if this a new thing for the station, I don’t remember noticing music before. But from nowhere came tears as I heard those singing voices. I was caught unawares both times on my return train journey.
I haven’t been thinking consciously about what we’re living through. It will be something we will process later, perhaps. The music and the tears stopped me in my tracks for a moment. It isn’t that I’ve experienced a hard time during the Covid-19 pandemic. My situation is far better than many. I’m not living alone, I’m meeting friends and family – safely – on occasion. I’m getting out and about – but – obviously, evidently – something, many things, are missing from my life and I think that’s what the tears were about. I wanted to say thank you to whoever it was who arranged for the opera singing, in spite of the tears it was a joyful moment to be connected with that part of myself I hadn’t consciously appreciated I was missing. Does any of this make sense?
Other than this, the usual (ha!) things are going on in my life. Things to do with moving both of my children into their new homes in London and then visiting them – they’re both doing well. Rearranging our house, tidying up, reinstalling myself in a writing space, actually writing. Hurray. Lots of reading and listening to the radio. Some boxsets on the telly. Walks in the countryside and some more collage-making – posted on my Instagram if you’re interested.
Since starting this post, the glasses have arrived and the early signs are not very promising. I’m not sure they’re right for me. A return train trip is likely on the cards. But, in the whole scheme of things happening in the world, not a major problem. I’ll cope. I hope you’re coping too.