Back in 1988, at the tender age of 23, I realised that I needed to have my eyes tested. I hadn’t had my eyes tested before and the quick tests at school pale in comparison with a proper eye test. After the examination I recall the optician saying that I really shouldn’t be driving and she hoped that I wouldn’t ever drive behind her on the way home. This all came as a bit of a shock to a young man in the prime years of his youth. Surely specs are for oldies, people who have about 3 pairs: one for driving, one for watching television and another to read the buttons on the remote. Thankfully I only needed them for distance (is that short-sighted or long-sighted? I used to know which was which) and not for reading or working at a computer screen. To this day I blame a cheap black and white Apricot monitor for my vision deteriorating. This was back in the days when a colour screen was considered an unnecessary luxury. Of course I was only staring at the damn thing for seven hours a day.

So I popped into the local opticians and selected my first pair of glasses (top-left, if you are playing along at home). These were react-to-light glass and so were really heavy. I tried them on recently and it was like having two picture frames strapped to your face. At the time they were really stylish and all the rage, in a Cliff Richard kind of way. The next pair (middle-left) were pretty much the same style-wise only with plastic lenses. They must have been pretty tough as they did survive three parachute jumps. For the last two descents I bought an elastic strap for around the back of my head, this saved any unnecessary manual adjustment on the way down. Styles changed and so did I (bottom-left) with everyone having round glasses with smaller lenses.

The ‘shades’ (top-right) I had as part of a two for one deal. To this day nothing annoys me more than not being able to get black prescription lenses! If you want prescription sun-glasses you can have grey or brown and that is just about it. Yes I know you can have pink, green and yellow lenses as well they aren’t really something that I’d want. So, you can’t have opaque black or mirrored lenses, oh no, not if you need them to drive with. I even went into the optician with a printed page from Ray-Ban’s web-site and asked if they could get me a pair. Needless to say they looked at me as if to say, “Can’t you see the display? Grey or brown that’s all we do!”. I did once buy clip-on shades from Boots for the round pair. They didn’t last long. The glasses had plastic lenses the clip-on’s were glass so they had a tendency to fall forward. I obviously didn’t want my face furniture to plummet towards the pavement so I had to tilt my head back. It didn’t make me look ‘cool’ at all. The pair with plastic frames (middle-right) were the free pair that came with the rimless ones (bottom-right). These I really liked except the little bolts which held the lenses together seemed to be directly in my line of sight. Maybe this is just because my eyes are too close together, I don’t know. I bought these after seeing Sean Connery wearing a similar pair in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

You are no doubt wondering, “Why is he babbling on like this? When is he going to get to the point?”. Well, my point, and I do have one, is that I’ve given them all away. I wasn’t going to wear any of them again. I’ve only recently worn them for comedy value and of course only in the privacy of my own home.

Back in 1997 Paul Crone, of Granada TV fame and infamy, collected 72,000 pairs of second-hand spectacles as part of the Granada Tonight Summer Spectacle Campaign. The glasses were collected throughout the north-west of England and distributed in Uganda, Africa. Obviously a very worthy cause.

So I looked on the internet to see if any organisation would be able to take my old spectacles. Low and behold Vision Express have a charity party called Vision Aid Overseas. They collect second-hand glasses check, sort and grade them and distribute them to needy people in developing countries.

I drove to the nearest branch of Vision Express in Stockport today and handed over all six pairs to the woman behind the counter. That was my good deed for the day.

  • Posted on Thursday, 06 July 2006
  • Tagged with personal