The Year of Living Deeply 29: Specs


At a guess I’ve been wearing them somewhere around the last ten years. Not having inherited my father’s genius for filing things away properly, I have not kept the receipts. I can still remember the sensation, lying in bed one night, of  trying to decipher some poem of Tomas Tranströmer and realising that however hard I tried to stretch my arm, it would never grow long enough for the words to come back into focus. I can still remember what the man in Specsavers said to me as he looked through my results: ‘You have the long distance sight of a fighter pilot, but for everything else you’ll need some goggles.’ Having grown up in the Seventies, when it seemed the three channels on offer served up black and white films of Spitfire vs Messerschmitt every single Saturday afternoon, I received this news with a chest-swelling pride. I bought two (for the price of one) in my first outing, some rather nondescript rectangular frames, one of which was copper and the other deep olive. One of these, the copper, I think, was coated in some sort of film to protect my eyes from answering emails all day. (I mean, working on a screen.) I honestly couldn’t tell the difference, which was just as well because I only really liked wearing the olive pair. A couple of years later, my lenses needed upgrading, so I treated myself to a navy pair for ‘being seen’ in i.e. spouting in front of students and colleagues, and a black/tortoiseshell combo for keeping on the bedside for Tomas Tranströmer. Around the same time, I noticed you could get non-prescription frames in Wilko which did not require you to take out a bank loan. I bought a pair on the hoof one day, for the kitchen, so that I wouldn’t have to schlep up the stairs for the Tomas Tranströmer pair and get them covered in olive oil and salt. These became the dominant pair in the house for the reason that they could be worn on top of my head and then quickly back onto my face as I flicked through the Ipad or sometimes even an actual book for a new Nigel Slater to try out. They weren’t much to look at. They reprised my rectangle phase. But they cost less than a packet of coffee and have only just given up the ghost. I am now in another blue pair, which is also coated with the invisible email protection, and these live in my rucksack for the commute to work and back to my screens here. I also have a new (old) kitchen pair (black), which is really a backup for the blue pair, as well as a Tranströmer pair (black frame, brown arms) which sits by the bed and comes with me to the bath sometimes for a bit of the New Statesman. For a treat, the other day I found myself investing in a non-prescription pea green pair from a shop which mostly sells greetings cards. I needed my other glasses to read the magnification chart on the wall display. Luckily I had them with me. These I keep in my shoulder bag, i.e. for outings to the shops and cafes or anywhere where I will be required to read something, i.e. everywhere. I have turned up my phone settings to font a thousand, but it is no use. Though I can spot students and colleagues in crisp detail from hundreds of yards across campus (also good for hiding from them in the supermarket across the road), my glasses have now joined the essential holy trinity of everyday life, the wallet, the phone, the bunch of keys. Two weeks ago I noticed that the meal I was eating was also out of focus. Now when I am in there I keep the kitchen pair on all the time. They are useful for farting around on Spotify. I am also rather happier talking one to one in them. At my last eye test they muttered about ‘moving on’ to varifocals. I felt a twinge of loss. You never saw a Spitfire pilot wearing those.





  1. It’s a wonderful world when we can take our pick from so many types of glasses! I am nearsighted in one eye, farsighted in the other! For years, I didn’t need glasses, until things changed and now I love wearing glasses.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I, too, “stumbled when I saw” the range available in Wilko. Now have four pairs languishing in various rooms. Oddly, I can never find them though! Love your blog btw, still using ‘The Poetry Book’ in class 15 years after St Luke’s days…..


  3. I, too, “stumbled when I saw” the range at Wilco. I now have several pairs languishing in rooms about the house. Oddly I can never find them! BTW, I still use your ‘The Poetry Book’ in class from 15 years ago………

    Liked by 1 person

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