…you think “the dog ate my homework” was lame? Try “my cat slashed my eyelid into two matching crescents”.
Mara, our 10-year-old diabetic cat, decided for reasons known only to a cat balanced on the fine edge between divine madness and creeping senile dementia that four am would be a very good time to climb to the top of a cupboard. The problem is that she’s not as young or limber as she used to be, and she can’t always find her way down. Her solution is to mew piteously and wait for one of us to rescue her–which we would have done if it hadn’t been 4 am, and even in our insomniac household, definitely Sandman time.
So the first I knew of her cupboard-scaling experiment was when a pile of books on the headboard of the bed cascaded onto me, followed shortly by a panicked cat who had decided to cushion the great leap into the unknown by using my face as a landing pad.
“Can you open your eyes?” the partner said.
I did.
“Good, good, now close them.”
I did.
Long silence.
“Cool,” he said, “I can see your eyeball through the eyelid.”


The stitches came out today, and instead of the fetching, dashing, slightly sinister scar I’d been hoping for, what I have is a line that looks, as a cruel (and hey, now ex-) friend said, like a second eyebrow. Or really smudgy mascara. The weird bit is it’s only now that I have the use of my right eyelid back that I realise how odd reading had been over the last week. The stitches worked like a miniature facelift, tightening the eye so that everything on the right side of the page/ computer screen came into exceptionally sharp focus–except for a small and irritating patch of “fog” that seemed to travel down the screen/ page and usually blurred the exact bits I was trying to read. I did discover one kind of writing that didn’t strain the eyes or add to the Babu Botox look–terse, laconic, three-words-to-a-line poems of the kind that cling to the left margin of the page.

The nice thing about having the eyelid sliced up, sashimi-style, is that the surgeon stitched it up with peacock-blue catgut. (I hope it wasn’t REAL catgut, unless of course it was sourced from Mara-the-marauding-feline’s intestines.) So I managed to gross friends out by not mentioning the eyelid thing at all until they stared hard and said, “Is that blue mascara running down your eyelid, or is that a mehendi tattoo gone wrong?” That was my cue to invite them to take a closer look and watch as the full horror of the situation dawned on them (people are really, really squeamish about eyelids).

“That doesn’t look like mascara exactly.”
“It isn’t mascara.”
“Oh? What are those funny pouchy bits in between? They look a bit like skin–EEK! AARGH! That is SO GROSS!”

That’s usually when I’d tell them about how one of the doctors who saw the injury said, “Hmmm. If your cat had gone half a centimetre further, your eyelid would have been opening and shutting–you know, like a door on a hinge.”

Anyway. Blogging will be back tomorrow; until then, I’m reading a present from a friend with a peculiar sense of humour–Jonathan Coe’s House of Sleep. Enjoy this excerpt, about an eyelid fetishist. Or if you’re a classicist, refresh your memory of the eyelid-clamping scene in A Clockwork Orange. Not squeamish yet? Check out this fine collection of eyelid speculae.