Wednesday, 28 November 2018


Last month I wrote about the importance of sight in the run-up to my first cataract operation. I am delighted to report that the operation went well and I am now two weeks into what can only be described as a ‘no man’s land’ of very weird vision. My ‘new’ eye gives me almost perfect sight, brilliant clarity and new, vivid colours – but there is a power struggle being fought with the unoperated eye, which stubbornly returns fuzzy, myopic and astigmatic vision. In brief: I can’t really see very well, which limits my ability to write, read, drive (an absolute no!) and many other normal everyday pursuits. This is temporary – or so I keep telling myself, as I contemplate the number of days which might lie between now and the other eye’s operation next year. In the meantime: a shorter blog than usual! Here are the beautiful flowers sent to me by my family.

Reading was the first challenge in this new state, but I soon found that by increasing the font size on my Kindle to ludicrous proportions, both eyes manage to return some kind of image to my brain. This system forces one to become very selective. At the first hint of tedium in a paragraph, the book is put ‘on hold’. My target of reading 80 books this year has been abandoned! Opting for thrillers, I hurtled through Robert Galbraith’s ‘Lethal White’ and have just started Michael Connelly’s ‘Dark Sacred Night’. Unfortunately, I had to set aside Faith Martin’s penultimate novel in her Hillary Greene series (Murder in Mind) which I’d been looking forward to, as she spent far too much time introducing old characters.

I miss rushing outside with my camera. I’ve taken a few odd photos of the garden, but actually the weather hasn’t been very conducive to such pursuits. The fun of uploading the results to the computer has dissipated: it’s now hard work. Luckily there’s no-one around to watch me gazing at the monitor through my old glasses, from which the left lens has been removed, but which are more of a headache than a help.

This is not meant to be a catalogue of complaints! Bear with me, dear reader, as I set out for you the reasons why my life is a little different from normal. On the positive side, I can still touch-type, and although I may seem a little crabby now and then, I count my blessings every time I glance across at the clock and find that if I close my bad eye – yes! I can see the time!

P.S. Please tell me if I’ve made any mistakes…

Friday, 9 November 2018


As the day approaches when my first cataract operation will forever change the way I see everything, I find myself surrounded by an Autumn of wondrous colour. For a while now I’ve been attempting to manipulate photographs which demonstrate the blurred world in which I exist without glasses, and the ones I’m attaching to this article may give you some idea of how beautiful it can be at this time of year.

I was five when my poor eyesight was first noticed and the only remedy was the device I still use: glasses. For a young child wearing glasses is a burden because it immediately attracts unwanted and often cruel attention. In the nineteen fifties the choice of frames was severely limited. They were provided by the NHS, ugly and unflattering, the only concession to one’s youth being the choice of colour: blue for boys and a hideous shade of pink for girls. From the outset my lenses were thick and heavy, and inclined to break the moment they fell off onto unforgiving playground surfaces. When this happened at school, a friend would be delegated to take me home because I couldn’t then and still cannot see to cross the road without my glasses. When I was nine my exasperated mother marched me to the optician where I was prescribed a set of ‘games glasses’. These were blue (no concession for girls) round-eyed things, even heavier and not a million miles away from the ones John Lennon subsequently sported, at which point – of course – they became fashionable. Eventually even these broke!

Me as a bridesmaid, 1970!
As time moved on and fashion changed, opticians introduced ranges of non-NHS spectacles; trends were set and prices began to rise. The sixties saw heavy dark frames which grew enormous in the seventies and early eighties, changing shape many times over subsequent decades. Metal rims grew in popularity and colours exploded. One of my favourite pairs was a huge, clumsy-looking affair which from today’s viewpoint when I look back at photos of myself wearing them, appear hideous!

I’m looking forward, not to the operations on my eyes, but to the difference it will make to my life – from waking up in the morning (presently attempting to find out the time and more often than not getting it wrong) to reading a book before going to sleep. Eyesight (poor or otherwise) is a gift, one which we take for granted, but without which our world – and the way in which we inhabit it - would be a very different place.