I have developed a nervous twitch in my right eye this week and I feel the need to point this out in case you assume I am winking at you above my mask. I fear that I may have given this  impression to the cashier at Tesco yesterday for he blew me a kiss as I left his checkout.

Well, when I say above a mask, I should say above plural masks because I have started to embrace a full  mask wardrobe and have been coordinating this with shoes and handbags.  I just can not help myself – I am a lost cause on the matching front, much to my daughter’s disgust; ‘You are so matchy matchy, Mumzoid’.

Back to the twitch, I feel it may be a little warning light that my body is wobbling over the various transitions of the last few months, and is now bracing itself for the onslaught of autumn.  If I can purchase/make a dragonfly print mask, it will perhaps remind me that –  like dragonflies – life is all about transformation, adaptability and self-realisation. I will keep on eye twitching until my wings are ready for flight again and until I can locate said mask design (message me if you have one for, realistically the chances of me making my own mask are equal to my chances of making a sourdough loaf before the summer is over).

It is perhaps not surprising that this little eyelid wiggle has developed this week of all lockdown weeks.  I would point out that it has been an absolute pain trying to apply mascara, just when I have embraced the advice telling us, ‘it’s all about the eyes ladies.’  It may all be about the eyes, but if you apply mascara or eye liner with a shaky hand and an eye lid tremor, then the autumn look is suddenly all about the panda eye.

Now, I am not a doctor (no, really), but I feel that my eye tremble could be caused by any of the following:

  • My change of address.
    I have spent so much of the week looking at a computer screen or battling with ibots in an attempt to validate my new postcode, that my eye balls feel itchy and bulging.  Focusing on the positive, I now have a driving licence with my new address on it, however the bank is proving more difficult. I can pass all the bank’s security questions (thank goodness I can remember the name of my childhood goldfish when it counts), can see my account on line and can prove I am human by identifying how many pedestrian crossings appear on a photo montage, but apparently I still need to walk into a ‘real’ bank with proof of my new address if I want them to change my address details.   So all I have to do now is find a ‘real’ high street bank that has not been closed or where the staff are now all home-working.I am trying not to scratch my eye as I explain this.
  • The waiting list for Specsavers.
    I have spent so much time on a computer over the last few months (see above) + teaching on line when term was running, that I think my eyeballs may have shrunk.  I have been late to the party on the optician front and now realise that I should have been proactive about ensuring that I was ‘visible’ once opticians re-opened.Favourite Daughter Facetimes me, and even with poor eyesight and a twitching eyelid I can see that she is rocking some amazing new frames around her gorgeous eyes. I now know that larger frames are in for the autumn – and I feel even more anxious that not only are my lenses out of date, but that when I actually get new frames, they may not match/fit on my face around the beautiful dragonfly mask I hope to be sporting.

    Note to self, if this eyelid continues twitching, perhaps smaller frames would be better – I do not want to come over all Nana Mouskouri if it is just going to draw attention to my winking  tick (Nana?  If you don’t know, you are far too young).

  • Exam results.
    In a world of no exams, Government u-turns and lack of advice to schools – like parents and colleagues – this week I am pulling on every shred of life experience I have to try and explain this ‘system’ to our lovely young people who stand on shifting sands.Our students are just brilliant and I hope that those who achieved the results they want/need allow themselves credit for their hard work, problem solving and ability over the last two years – all this still stands even if Covid blocked your way into an exam hall.

    For those who didn’t get the results they expected/needed, I hope that we can now prove to you that we will do everything we can to get you out of this quick sand.  Let us advocate you on to the futures you deserve, and then trust us to post-mortem your results with Ofqual, The Dept of Education, Uncle Tom Cobley even,  once we have waved you off.  Most of all, please do still trust us as teachers.  We did not want or expect this for you, and like you, we cringe every time we hear a politician say, ‘well, it is what it is.’

    My twitching eye knows that I still have the best job in the world working with young people and it has seen for itself this week how amazing and resilient our students are as they have petitioned universities and employers and evidenced that they have knowledge, life skills and enthusiasm far beyond that which any exam system could grade.  I am so glad that your generation will be looking after me and my wobbly eye in my dotage years.

Any way, I realise that my incessant eyelid spasm is making me quite cranky, so I do a little research and discover that,  ‘eye twitching usually goes away on its own within a few days or weeks with rest, stress relief and decreased caffeine’.  I clearly can not reduce my caffeine intake without increasing my crankiness so I go for the rest and stress relief and take a cheeky expresso onto the patio to lie in the sun and to survey my meagre fruits of lock down gardening. 

Now when I say ‘fruits’, naturally I am speaking as a botanist rather than as a nutritionist (how far have I come in lock down?!); specifically, on this occasion I am referring to the first tomato plants that I have been trusted with since my lovely dad was misguided enough to trust me with taking care of his greenhouse during the heady heatwave of 1975.  Let us just say that his return from holiday was not a happy one.  (I was 11 years old, people, please show some forgiveness).

Mid lock-down, my new neighbour bonded with me over the garden fence (Favourite Man says this was just an excuse to be nosey about the woman who had just moved in  -moi – but I refuse to be so cynical).  I was just thrilled that a little bit of garden chat resulted in my new neighbour gifting me three tomato plants.  I felt trusted, honoured and – sadly – quite excited.

Reader, I have nurtured these tomato plants through some pretty scorching lock-down days.  When they have wilted, I have coaxed them back from the brink with water, vitamins and some soothing chat.  In retrospect I probably should have shared with FM how hard I have been working on this.  I should have also informed him that these were tumbling tomato plants and were never likely to stand to salute.

So, to ease my twitching eye and to de-stress a little, I take my watering can up to nurture my tomato plant patch in the sunshine.  Suddenly I can feel both eye lids in spasm as they discover that my plants have been brutally butchered; I stand looking at the stumps of three decaptitated tomato plants.

I suspect sabotage and wonder if the neighbour has been so jealous of my horticultural skills – even in the absence of  the village Fruit & Veg show this year  – that he has vaulted over the fence under the cover of dark and put the fruits of my labour to rest in a vindictive and ruthless fashion.  I rush down to share my accusations with FM.

I find FM filling a green recycling bag with what appears to be a mound of tomato plant leaves and stalks.  He looks pretty smug.

‘Just got rid of those dead tomato plants for you, love,’ he smiles. ‘boy they had given up the ghost – they were sprawled all over the path.  I Just knew it would be bothering you – you’ve had such a difficult week.  Still, it is what it is.’

Thankfully, because I am wearing a very thick mask (in a muted shade of salmon pink to match my sandals) neither FM – or our neighbour – can hear my ‘effing and jeffing’ as I flounce off, spilling coffee in my wake. I realise that my optical pity party needs to end right here.  I will need both eyes wide open and twitch-free  if I am to see my three sunflowers safely through Covid.




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