Thursday, January 17, 2013

This morning I lost my spectacles.
I had briefly used them earlier, registering then that perhaps I needed to follow up the year long urges from the eyeglass company to get re-tested.
I have 2 pairs - close work, long work...the latter meaning the ability to read the required eye chart for a driving test. I only use either sometimes.
I use the close work ones mainly: just to check.  And that's what I needed them for: ensuring details were correct.
I had used them in the kitchen, noting how poor their help was, so first I went back there to check: result zero.
Maybe near the computer?  Ditto.
On the work table? No.
So, they must be in the kitchen. No. And around and around and around.

I recalled Nancy Phelan' s tribute to her eye exercises restoring her vision. Is that my alternative? But that requires about 3 months, as far as I could recall, and I needed to check details now.
Nancy Phelan was a yoga enthusiast and promoter, and a  vibrant tribute to her beliefs. 
Her autobiography of growing up in Mosman in the early years of the last century,
"A Kingdom By the Sea," is an absolute delight:.  When she speaks of a visitor arriving unexpectedly and the family rapidly closing all the doors down the hallway so as to hide the untidiness, it rang bells with me.
She recounts her mother's nightmare with hiring domestic staff: they would vet you, and disdain to work for you if you were disorganised or untidy, as her family constantly was.  So, when hiring staff, you were required to lower your sights again and again and again, as the most desired sniffed snobbishly at you and moved on.
And of course a cook ... what a "cook" can actually cook may not be what you accept as acceptable food,  then as now.

In a brief time I had working with unemployed people, I became surprised how many youngish, scruffy men called themselves "chefs". One would not particularly have wanted to eat anything that they had handled, on the whole, without a tetanus shot and some strong antibiotics: cleanliness didn't seem of any importance to them at all.  I found out from them that the difference between a "cook: and a "chef" is that a "cook" has to do the washing up, and a "chef" doesn't.

I recently bought, at a flea market, a book written by Nancy Phelan when she was quite old.  The stories in it were admirable and perceptive - one of an old and eccentric man destroyed by his daughters' desire to keep him "safe", one of a retired woman sinking from optimism and engagement into fear and dependence - but they showed her age. Of course.  Of course?
I also read a P.D. James, published in 2008, when she was 88.  Was the conclusion a little weak?  Well, perhaps: the rest was sometimes gripping, always readable, and there was no sense at all that it was written by an older.

I gave up on the great search for my spectacles and decided to make do, do what I could.
That's when I saw them next to my bed, where I had left them last night.
No wonder, really, that when I looked at detail in the kitchen this am, in hind sight through the wrong specs, I found them somewhat lacking.
I'll put off that eye test for a while. 


The Elephant's Child said...

I don't know Nancy Phelan and, drat you, will be keeping an eye out for her. I say drat you because my un-read pile is way too big now.
I also have two pairs of glasses, one pair, which I rarely use, for distance and the second for close work. I really, really need the second pair and consequently lose them all over the house. Perhaps next time I get my optical prescription renewed I will give multi-focals another try.

Frances said...

Just her autobiog, EC.
And, just to add to your book problems I would add "Aunts Up the Cross" by Robin Dalton and "Period Piece" by Gwen Raverat, if you want light, fascinating, well written, amusing and engrossing reads.
I envy your Mitford books.

The Elephant's Child said...

I love Period Piece and reread it about once a year. I also have vague memories of 'Aunts up the Cross' but may have to go to the library and refresh that memory.