Tuesday 26 February 2008

Vicious, howling and destructive

No, not the dog.Though maybe in her imagination....

But this was how the weatherman described the gales now lashing us - 67 mph in Newcastle! Wheelie bins are practising their jump jet take-off technique, and small children are being sewn into their pushchairs. I have been into town on foot, leaning well forward, Marcel Marceau mime-style, with my coat billowing like the parachutes that bring the Space Shuttle to a halt. Very nerve-wracking; I seem to recall some research that found windy weather was detrimental to human mental health, and I could believe it. Grown men were cowering in doorways, sobbing and pleading for it to stop.

But I arrived determined to accomplish some purposeful shopping, and immediately came across a newly-opened optician's, all shiny and beckoning, so, on impulse, I got my eyes tested (for free!) for the first time in years. This took a long time, and was extremely thorough. A strange experience, though. Optometrists are like dentists, in that they see you in a most unflattering way, i.e. with your mouth unnaturally wide open or with one of those bizarre devices on your nose like the ones that Johnny Depp wore in Sleepy Hollow. And they have to get up closer than you would want a stranger, or even most of your nearest and dearest, to do, and shine lights in your eyes. At least I could answer questions today without my mouth being full of cotton wool and gurgling spit-sucking tubes.

Weakened by the shiny-shiny technology and the sheer charm of the pleasant young optometrist, I yielded to the dazzling array of designer specs, and chose a pair a zillion times more expensive than I intended. Shopping, purposeful or otherwise, deteriorated rapidly after that. I bought some audio books for the plane journey, a new washbag that would not bring shame to the family name, and browsed the luggage displays, horrifying myself with the prices of small suitcases that would only be thrown, dropped, trashed, filthied
in transit, and probably end up misdirected to the far East. Then I got the bus home, watching pedestrians flailing helplessly in the wind and clutching lamp posts, and, crunching over fallen roof tiles, I shut my front door with a sigh of relief. And then I caught up with those leftover hot cross buns. Well, carbohydrates are calming, after all.

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