You know that you must be old when your ophthalmic doctor smiles at you and says (in Spanish I might add) “You have the eyes of a forty-year-old!” - and you take it as a charming compliment!
This is all a function of the gauzy, torn fairy wing that drifts across the sight in my left eye form time to time. On a regular basis. Not one to panic, I immediately assumed that it was a fatal portent of some sort of disease that, almost as soon as it is diagnosed, means death.
As it happened, the doctor was disturbingly soothing, and took rather too many pains to emphasise just now normal and un-worrying having floating wing tips in front of your eyes was. In the midst of this she also let slip that I have “the very smallest” of cataracts, the very same cataracts, indeed, that her eighty-two year old mother had and “nothing came of them”. I did notice the past tense in this conversation but preferred to assume that it was a reference to the fugitive cataracts rather than the state of her mother.
I now have two print outs from the retinal scan and the ultrasound scan and have a printed reminded to go back to her in a year. I always find it refreshing when concern is 365 days away. I will now assume that all is well with the world and that the wings will actually flutter away “by themselves”. There is, after all, no delusion like self-delusion - and having typed that, it doesn’t mean that I will consider it as anything more than a play on words, and certainly not something that deserves further investigation.
Which is more than I can say for the stubborn non-acceptance of my perfectly good photograph of The Stain. I really do refuse to be beaten and will take my steam camera (of happy memory) with me on my next foray and take another snap.
And that will be on my old bike. The new (five levels of assistance) electric bike is minus a brake. I have fancy disc brakes, and the disc on the back wheel is what can only be described as floppy. And application of the brake makes no difference to the speed. Which is disturbing.
I took the bike to the bike shop that I now use (based on the expert, quick and cheap sorting out of the wobbly wheel on my other bike) and expected the brake to be readjusted in a humiliatingly short time while I looked on open mouthed with wonder at technical wizardry. No way! I was told to leave the bike there as it would have to be de-assembled and then re-assembled and he had a lot of work on hand.
As I had come by bike, assuming that five minutes and a pitying look would just about wrap up the problem, I was faced with another. If I left the bike there I would have to walk back (No!) go by bus (No! No!) or take a taxi (No! No! No!) So I thought that I would take advantage of the bike’s ability to fold up and bring it to the shop by car.
I went home. Eventually collapsed the bike, which is never as easy as they make it appear in the little video on the website for the bike, and even more eventually got it into the back of the car.
Once in Castelldefels town, I took the bike out of the car, un-collapsed it, which is never as easy as they make it appear in the little video on the website for the bike, and rode it triumphantly the few blocks to the shop. Where it has been left to get better.
I returned home via the swimming pool; did my metric mile; drank my tea; wrote my notes and got home to find Toni in a state of decision about the bedroom.
As we live near the sea there is always a tendency for damp to occur, and the ceiling near the tall window doors in the bedroom is a prime growing spot. We have anti-mould paint and that, I was told, was going to be applied as it was obviously a contributory factor in Toni’s on-going bad throat scenario.
Luckily I had the ophthalmic doctor’s (is that tautology?) appointment and so, as is always the best with partners, one could get on without the ‘help’ of the other.
To get to my appointment I went on my old bike. As I have ruthlessly ignored the machine that I previously regarded as the Bentley of Bikes, I sprayed oil indiscriminatingly in all mechanical directions in the hope that some of them would prevent screeching metal fatigue on my journey.
I had been using my ‘old’ bike for years and, possibly because of the strange upside-down ‘S’ shape as the main bit holding the wheels together, I can’t ride it hands free - but I do find it comfortable. Imagine my horror as I mounted the thing for the first time for weeks and found it entirely foreign and strange.
My posture was different, the handlebars were a different height, and my centre of gravity had been displaced. I felt as if I had never been on the bike before!
Within a few hundred yards, the sense of otherness between the bike and me had gone and I was back where I used to be. I have never gone from foreign to native in such a short period of time. Though I wonder about how I am going to adapt to the return of the other bike tomorrow. Perhaps I might beat my own new assimilation record.
And it was hard work. I now see that I have become well used to the judicious touch on the little throttle handle for a small but welcome boost in circumstances when brute foot power would have needed to have been applied. Slight gradients became irritating and the wind took back its vindictive quality. I have been vitiated by the cloying and debauched pleasures of Five Levels of Assistance - which sounds like a good title for a book.