And so it came to pass that it was time for my two yearly sight test. Thirty six years I have been wearing glasses and haven't sight tests changed over those years? I remember the first I had, aged 12. It was in a small room out the back of a chemist shop. A complicated contraption was perched on my nose, various lenses were popped in and out of the contraption, the optician declared that yes, I was short sighted, a pair of gold frames was slid onto my face with the words, 'They'll do,' and thus began my career as a 'speckie.'
No choice, no explanations, just 'There you go, get on with it.'
I marvelled how clear everything seemed. I became confused in places where spec wearing was difficult like swimming pools. I steamed up in the Winter, pondered how useful little windscreen wipers would be in the rain, broke a pair by standing on them because I couldn't see where they were because I wasn't wearing them (???) and made amusing hand puppets...
...and I wasn't bothered about wearing specs because life was generally richer with them than without.
Nowadays, a sight test is majorly complex. You have a battery of 'pre-tests' before you even get to see the optician. You get photos taken of your retinas, you get your eye pressures measured and your field of vision explored. It is all very comprehensive and marvellous and God bless the NHS for looking after our eyes so well.
Anyway, there I was, all bug-eyed and streamy, have been pre-tested with puffs of air, bright lights and orders to avoid blinking at all costs, and the optician chap called me into his room where he asked me loads of questions. He reminded me a little of Richard Griffiths in 'The History Boys,' both in manner and stature, but was very thorough and efficient except that every now and then his reaction to my responses to his questions was a disconcerting, 'Really?' or 'Hmmmmm.'
What?? I thought, every time he said,'Really?' in a surprised sort of way, or 'Hmmmmm,' with bemused puzzlement. By the end of the test I was convinced he was going to pronounce some grave news and issue me with a guide dog.
'Your eyes are healthy,' he said, 'and if you want to keep taking off your glasses for reading and close work then that is fine. Your distance vision has improved so you ought to have a new prescription to accommodate this.' And he waggled my current glasses at me. 'How long have you had these?'
'About 12 years,' said I. Glasses to me are like shoes. Once I find a pair I like I stick with them until they fall to pieces.
'Really?' said the optician. 'Hmmmmm.'
I took this as a signal it was time to treat myself to a new pair.
Now the problem I have with modern glasses is that they are worn as a fashion statement. They are big and bold and designer. They are different colours and shapes. I blame Gok Wan myself. And Elton John. And I don't like bold statement specs. I like small and slender. I sloped into the display area and tried to track down a new frame that was exactly the same as the pair I have now, or as near as damn it.
My current specs looked Lilliputian compared to the ones on offer. Most had massive thick plastic arms which, the trendy young sales chappie informed me, are all the fashion. I tried on a pair. I felt like Red Rum aiming for the winning line. I was aware there was something hovering very close to me on either side of my face, like sinister bats waiting to launch a surprise attack. I didn't like it. I wanted unobtrusive and thin, not thick and blinkered.
Well, I found a pair eventually, and bought them more out of panic than as a result of any 'love at first sight,' moment. Surprisingly, they were from the cheapest price range and they will be ready next weekend. I am hoping that they last me another 12 years. By which time the trend for big and loud might have been replaced by small and discreet and I shall be eyewear fashionable again.