We left our hero in the consulting room of Specsavers, having a relaxing chat with the optician about the musical tastes of his children. We also talked, steadily, and informatively, even sentimentally, about the different prescription drugs to which we have or are at the moment signed up (‘Epanutin! Ah, I remember that one!).
At one point, feeling somehow the responsible one, I dragged the conversation back to my eyes. My left eye has been feeling out-of-sorts recently: in fact, I would almost say it was a bit blurred, although maybe I need to clean both sides of my glasses. I asked whether the tests showed that one of my eyes was weaker than the other. ‘Of course,’ he replied. (The casual nature of the diagnosis threw me, momentarily.) ‘But then,’ he went on, in case I was laying claim to any particular gift, ‘that is the same with everyone. It is a million-to-one if people have the prescription for both eyes.’ I said that no-one had ever explained this. He waved this away. ‘There are so many things they do not tell you,’ he remarked.
At this point, his printer having whirred for a second or two, he brought our little chat to a kindly conclusion, and ushered me out of the door, with all the fondness than an uncle might have for a nephew, or a kindly teacher for a formerly recalciltrant pupil come back to visit, or a host to a favoured guest on the brink of departure. With a final line about his fondness for the janglier of Abba’s tunes, he introduced me to person four in the Specsaver sequence. This was Frames.
I had idly wondered, since I have two sets of frames, whether or not they would simply require these, so that the new lenses, when made could be fitted. ‘No, that would be far too expensive,’ she said, ‘much more expensive than picking out two frames on two-for-one.’ So we went to have a look. I can chop the choice right down here, because if I don’t have those ones that bend and flex and jump back into the same position when you sit on them, I sit on them and break them. So the choice came down to black or brown, and maybe a slight variation in the size of the lens.
Suddenly, I found myself in the grip of a style advisor. ‘May I say something?’ she said.
‘Go right ahead,’ I replied (I was utter putty in their hands by now).
‘I don’t think’, she said, ‘that brown suits you. I think you should wear black.’ Black! Black! How right she was! Why hadn’t I ever noticed this? (I can tell you why. It’s because, when you get short-sighted, and you take off your glasses to choose a new pair of frames, you can’t see the things as anything more than a general blur.)
Finally, to the Fitting, and the final staging-post in my journey through SpecSavers. Person Five placed the frames on my nose (I think – I couldn’t see, only sense what she was doing), and told me I had a ‘narrow bridge’. More information! I have a narrow bridge! So that’s what it’s been all these years. After a bit of twiddling, a perfect fit, a jolly swoosh of the credit card (ah yes, payment, I had almost forgotten that in all the delight), and I was on my way. Only ten days till my sight is restored.
Somewhere in all this, I opted for Reactolite (or whatever the SpecSaver slang for this is). I am a bit light-sensitive, but I fear that, deep down, I am responding to the cultural imperative to look just a bit cool. Somewhere between Sophia Loren and Marlon Brando in ‘The Wild One’ and Boz Scaggs. I did mention Scaggs yesterday. He’s a singer who must be coming up for his 45th year in the business, and still not as well-known over here as he should be (to be rectified in a future post). In my twenties, I was deeply impressed by the cover of his sixth album, Slow Dancer, which looks as below. Not that I have gone for the mirrored look (although I did in 1973). Vanitas, vanitas.