So, patience has never been my strong suit. Even in Houghton House as a patient, while undergoing treatment, patience was a short-supplied commodity. This past week has been a culmination of trying to exercise patience and delay my need for instant gratification.
It’s hard to focus on writing when your computer is melting into sludge. And you’re sweating like you’re awaiting your blood test results after waking up naked next to Charlie Sheen.
My fan has gone on strike in this heat. Thanks to global warming, even polar bears are out of work. So I procured air-conditioning at the end of last year. They were awaiting stock. It’s now week three of January. Nadda. Sure, it was over the holiday period, but how long do people take to nurse a hang over? Unless maybe they ended up in Houghton House for overdoing the drugs and alcohol?
(I’m going to speak to Alex Hamlyn, one of Houghton’s directors, about opening a Procrastinators Anonymous wing at his rehab.)
But this heat, man… If I have to choose my death from either the Sahara or Antarctica, penguins dance their happy feet around my corpse every time.
The cold is ideal for working. Productivity is, according to studies, best done when you’re slightly cold. Too warm, and the brain gets overheated. Slooows down.
When it’s hot, my brain turns me into a caveman. “Ugh” becomes both my name and my vocabulary.
When it’s fairly cold, I can write a storm.
In icy conditions, I’m composing 50-piece symphonies.
I was once placed in absolute zero to see what would happen. I unified science.*
Anyway, it’s the beginning of the year, it’s the time to fireball the work out, and get a fast and furious start. Hard when you’re towelling yourself off the carpet.
It’s been like a desert in Johannesburg. And the desert is not fit for good, honest citizens; it is for conducting cabals and state capture operations in a luxury mansion.
Although that mansion has the finest air-conditioning system tax payers’ money can buy.
Fibre lacking in the diet.
And it shows: my internet connection is really sh1tty. My cellphone is currently my modem, and an expensive one at that, what with highway robbery our data charges. Worse, 4G is rarer than a unicorn in my area.
Long I have dreamed of fibre. July last year, it seemed to be finally manifesting. A (deliberately vague name warning) long-established public provider of infrastructure promised to install it in April 2016. 80 emails to their sales department later, it was finally moved to the tech guys. Then, more silence than a post-op tonsillitis ward. Later, I lost my mind and vented on Hello Peter, and it got the attention of one of their customer service faux-humans, who took it up for me.
Taking it up for me meant I was the one who “took it up”: I received an SMS saying the order had been cancelled**… due to a lack of coverage in the area. Right. Tell that to my neighbours in a complex down the road. Their Internet router must be tripping on mescaline.
But then, like a knight in shining armour, a (deliberately vague name warning) private provider of fibre infrastructure appeared. After even more months, it turned out, in reality, the armour was made of cardboard with reflective material stuck on.
Months and months and months pass. Last week, fibre was actually installed in the home. But it wasn’t live. They said it was live four weeks ago. Somehow it died on the way. However, kudos to them for fixing that the next day. And today, finally, the Internet Service Provider I’ve selected will arrive to fiddle with my modem (“Dear Penthouse…”) so I can stick my router in their port (“I never thought this would happen to me…”). YouTube vids buffered in moments! iTunes University lecture segments downloaded in seconds! Massive uploads of content onto my new website! Cat pictures by the lolz load on Instagram! Midget clown porn featuring Game of Thrones Tyrion-lookalikes!
It’s so close! This is what Moses felt like after wandering the Sinai for 40 years!***
The Great Glasses Adventure.
It is an adventure when you go from High Definition eye sight to barely visible Standard Definition vision. Blurry, electro-distorted screen SD.
See, I have this habit of reading in bed just before I sleep – and, lazy-ass that I am, I can’t be bothered to reach all the way to the bedside table when it’s time to remove my glasses.
I simply fold them up and put them on the far side of the bed. ZZZZZzzzzz.
Mason the playful Russian Blue Tabby must have swatted the spectacles in the night, because I awoke to broken lenses in the morning. I must have rolled over them in my sleep.
My poor glasses.
They’d lasted a fairly long time for eyeglasses in my care. A good three years.
I wouldn’t say I’m blind as Oedipus (Gods, what a complex!), but the world becomes a very disorientating place reminiscent of the drinking binges of my early student days. (The ones that my mates were able to leave behind, while I graduated to harder tack [much harder tack, considering the chemicals involved] which resulted in a messed-up life, and a stay in Houghton sorting it out.)
My eyes have a slight stigmatism, so there’s also double vision, affecting my depth perception.
Without my glasses, I constantly feel a bit tipsy, but without the buzz.
“Good thing optometrists are open on Saturdays,” I thought. “And there’s even one by the ***** Centre that has my prescription. Should have new spectacles by mid-afternoon,” I said, hopefully optimistic.
Going down there, I choose a frame that didn’t cost both appendages (just a single arm). “Right, my good man,” I said, “should I come back in an hour?”
It was going to take five days. And the order was only going to the lab on Monday. Meaning they’d only be ready the following Monday.
What, I exacerbated, THAT long?!
Turns out it often takes that long these days.
I checked this information with other people. Yip, they said. It takes that long now. International trend. For what reason? Reasons.
Why? How? It literally took an hour 10 years ago. And a lab, nogel? When did a ‘workshop’ become a ‘lab’? Do they conduct animal testing on my specs first? See how a bespectacled guinea pig performs in maze runs before moving onto human trials?
Technology is supposed to make things happen faster! The letter once took three days. In its electronic form, that became three seconds. Circumventing the globe took 80 days (if you were an English gentleman and placed a bet on it, though the point spread didn’t always favour you). Now travel takes less time than binge watching the action-drama 24 in-flight.
Glasses probably took less than a day 300 years ago, in an era where people still defended their honour with rapiers – a sword that doubled as a shish kebab implement at barbeques. In the late 20th century, it took under an hour.
But now? In the 21st? It’s a week? Or more??
Going around for days with blurred vision has made me incredibly bitter. All I could think of was how greedy optometrists had become. Their five+ days of “lab testing” Jinny the Guiney wearing my eyeglasses justifies inflating the price by 400%. Hence my missing arm.
Resentment is one of those things that can lead you back to using drugs and alcohol. I didn’t think too much about them, though… this resentment isn’t going to end in a dingy hotel room with vacant eyes and syringes pin-cushioning me out of existence.
Because Houghton has prepared me for a world of monocle’d (with a R5000 frame!) villains charging the Earth for service slower than a three-legged senile tortoise.
Thus I have made adjustments, and carried on more or less calmly****.
People ask me, “How are you getting around? Uber?” I’ve paid enough, thank you! No, I can drive: I see shapes, colours, and can sort of judge distance. Enough to take familiar routes of the road. “But that’s dangerous,” they say! Not really, I respond, keeping the brights on during the day helps (I have now attracted a posse of tow-trucks that follow wherever I go).
“Surely you don’t drive at night then?” Yes I do. “How,” they ask.
Well, you’ve seen the movie Scent of the Woman? There’s a scene where the blind colonel, played by Al Pacino, drives a car while his minder, played by Chris o’ Donnell, frantically gives him directions: “Turn left here!” “Stop it’s a traffic light!” “Right! Turn right! Right now!”.
Well, it’s a bit like that.
Except there’s no Chris o’ Donnell.
*Unfortunately for humanity, the experience caused brain damage and memory loss a split second later.
**My deposit, for some reason, wasn’t.
***Although Moses does peg just before he gets out the desert. He should have asked for directions when he first got there.
UPDATE ON AIRCON:
Update Mon 15:53: Next Monday is the new ETA. But my friend Murphy says Winter is more likely.
UPDATE ON FIBRE:
Update Mon 12:01: It’s installed! I have awaited this day for the better part of a year!
Update Mon 12:02: It’s running at a 10th of the promised speed due to fibre cable repairs down the road. BUT I WILL TAKE WHAT I CAN!
Update Mon 20:15: Connection is down. Issue unknown. Time to resolve unknown. Possibly when Half-life 3 comes out.
UPDATE ON GLASSES:
Update Mon 14:33: “They’re not here yet.” “But you said it would take a maximum of five working days.” “After you marked your order as ‘urgent’, the lab broke one of your lenses. Would you like to mark it as ‘urgent’ again, sir?” “Um. No.” “Great. We’ll call you when they’re ready.”