As foreshadowed last week, the eye test for keeping my driver’s license was today at 2 pm. I took a shower and quickly ate some smoked salmon on wholemeal sandwiches. We went shopping with the obligatory Milo walk before the appointment at the medical centre. Helvi is not so keen on smoked salmon, or anything smoked really. It came to a head, when still living in Holland, and I took a bunch of smoked baby-eels to bed for snacking, while watching Sargent Bilko, or perhaps it was ‘I love Lucy.’
Those shows would be impossible to watch now. Humour has shifted up a couple of gears since then, and now seems so much more cynical, more trying to get laughter out of the misery of others. Mind you, perhaps most humour is based on the misfortunes of others. I mean slipping over a banana skin could be painful.
At 1.30 pm Helvi asked me if I would like her to come too. I certainly would. She took a newspaper and her puzzle book and we both drove to Moss-Vale where my medical centre resides. During the trip Helvi thought it was hot in the car. I said ‘feel free to turn down the heater.’ It is one of those marital routines whereby the same issues are being played knowing full well the results. Helvi never touches any knobs or switches in the car. She pretends not even knowing the difference between the brake or the steering wheel. She gave up driving many years ago. She prefers reading or talking. I don’t mind that but sometimes wish she would not ask for a four letter word starting with F when I am driving precariously wedged in between two road trains.
I was a bit concerned but had practised in front of the mirror holding my hand alternatively in front of both eyes. It is a very old mirror with gold leaf ornate frame. This ornate framed piece held a bevelled mirror in Holland yet a plain glass mirror after shipped over to Australia by boat. We were dudded by the removalist who must have broken the bevelled mirror and replaced it with a plain sheet of mirror-glass. We did not notice till some time after.
After arrival, I was to wait for the Nurse to do the eye-test after which Dr Sparks would do the rest and test other abilities to keep driving. Mainly a matter for dizzy-spells ,fainting, suicidal thoughts or preferences, alcoholism, sleeping disorders with last of all, any marital whiplash.
They must have phoned up Nurse. I noticed a tall woman walking in soon after. She was nicely dressed in a long woollen skirt and blue loose fitting jacket with a hoodie. Within a minute she came out of her office and called for Gerard. I duly got up swiftly, even jauntily, and walked in after her, noticing she was shapely with dark her. She had taken her jacket off which I noticed hanging over her chair. She gave me a lovely smile and told me to move the chair a bit closer to the eye chart. ‘We just going to do your eyes’, she said, smiling again. The way she pronounced ‘eyes’ told me she was New Zealander and Maori.
I really liked her and she kept reassuring me. Even without the uniform, she was an eye test’s dream come true. I lost all my resolve to cheat and spy through my hands. It felt like a betrayal. I was wearing glasses. My driver’s license show a photo without wearing them. She kindly asked me if I wore them while driving. I answered that I normally don’t. They are bi-vocals and seem to distort vison. Well, she said; ‘we will do them with and without glasses’. ‘Whatever comes out the better of the two, we shall use.’ She was so lovely. The perfect nurse. She made it sound like a nurse handing out a bed-pan with the élan of a barista serving a black coffee with a croissant. I could not have been luckier.
It must have given me a rush of blood to my head, especially my eyes, and they went straight into top-gear. A kind of tumescence but for sight instead of sex.
My right (crook) eye was given 6/12 and my left ( the good eye) 6/5. Both eyes WITHOUT glasses 6/5. She said, ‘sex over five. You have done well Gerard.’