I was nine years old when I first made a spectacle of myself.
Not by choice, I was seated in the very back row of my class,
sharing a two seater desk with a boy called Malcolm Stovell who used to pin my right hand down on the desk so that I couldn’t write a word until he had caught up with me. It never occurred to me to complain, either at school or at home; I just accepted
it as part of the unfairness of certain aspects of life. Such as not actually being able to read what my beloved Miss Boyle was writing on the blackboard.
it was spotted that I was struggling and my mother hauled me off to the optician. I returned home, bursting with self-importance at my newly acquired status as myopic, only to be greeted by my brother who told me in no uncertain terms that I was “an
idiot” who would soon live to regret being bespectacled.
So began an extended period of denial when my eyes grew more and more short-sighted and I grew more
and more determined not to wear my specs unless reading, studying or seated in the back row of a classroom and so needing to see the blackboard. I dreamed of the day when I would have sufficient money to buy myself contact lenses - but in the lengthy meantime,
walked the streets of my home town ignoring all my friends, not because I didn’t want to chat to them but because I simply couldn’t see them. It was vanity, pure and simple...
I am not sure exactly when I finally saw the light. At some stage I took my bespectacled self out into the wide world and realised exactly what my vanity was costing me. Oh, that bright new world seen through my spectacle lenses! How
much I had been missing! From then on, my glasses became part of my face, part of who I was - and who I am.
Time passed and I could easily have forked out for
those costly contact lenses had I wished - except that (I) I wasn’t sure I could manage to insert foreign bodies into my eyes (being a wimp of the first order) and (ii) I decided I didn’t mind wearing glasses anyway. Though there were occasions
when I woke from slumber to discover that I could see perfectly - only to realise that I had fallen asleep with my specs on. Oh, the disappointment!
so very long ago, I had my cataracts removed in two separate operations. I now had the benefit of 20-20 vision, at least as far as distance was concerned. I would still need reading glasses, my surgeon advised me, but that was all. You have probably seen all
the adverts about being free from the need to wear specs - well, it was like that.
Except that it wasn’t. Spec-less I didn’t look like myself at all.
I suppose when you have worn glasses since the age of 9, they have become like your favourite outfit, the one you always wear when you want to feel comfortable. The dark circles under my eyes, moreover, stood out even more without the disguise of my glasses
sitting on the bridge of my nose, like a surprisingly effective camouflage. Thus it was that I went back to wearing varifocals to give me all-round vision. I donned my glasses with a feeling of relief, of coming home...
Today I collected my latest glasses from Specsavers. They were offering 2 for 1 so I had decided to do something really rather thrilling - I had ordered one pair very similar to my previous specs and
another pair which were completely different. Okay, not so very different - nothing outlandish, if you know what I mean, but still a bit of a departure from my normal style. Then the young woman who fitted my new specs asked me what colour cases I would like
for my new facial adornments. “They’re very, well, bright..” she warned me but I went ahead anyway and asked for a bright orange case and a bright pink case. I left the shop wearing my new-style specs and feeling quite ridiculously adventurous.
One way or another, I shall continue to make a spectacle of myself...