As a football referee, I finally had to give in to the helpful advice given to me by friendly spectators on a weekly basis and take a trip to SpecSavers, the opticians. My long vision has been deteriorating as I age, along with everything else, except my ability to grow nose and ear hair at an alarming rate.
Just to let you know, I’ve had to wear spectacles for reading since I was 11. My mum’s reaction to hearing I had myopia was greeted in similar fashion to the discovery of my colour blindness, namely complete denial and accusations of me ‘showing off’. I assure you that in 1971, wearing specs was not fashionable. Hardly any children wore them, since MTV, Nintendo and the internet were far off futuristic dreams.
“Don’t worry,” said the 1970’s optician, “when you’re old, your eyes will change shape and correct themselves.”
I had to wait nigh on four decades to find out 1970’s optician was lying. I kept my short sightedness and combined it with long sightedness. Now I can’t see anything near or far. I might as well buy a bloody dog.
However, I am out there refereeing, it was time for new glasses. My last test was five years ago, which, compared to the gap of ten years without a test, seemed reasonable. But this time, I thought I’d get myself some contact lenses for my refereeing duties. You see, the problem with refereeing is that you’re supposed to be able to see distance and close up; for example, that no so clever raking of the achilles tendon with a heavy boot by the incumbent ‘enforcer’ on a team must be spotted and recorded in my little black book with ease. Unfortunately, the foul play can be dealt with – the writing down of a name is more challenging. I have to be careful not to appear to be playing an imaginary trombone as I write some scrawl I can’t see on the page.
Wearing glasses on the field of play is of course a no no. I hardly need another weakness for the assorted cheats and liars to take advantage of.
It wasn’t as hard as I imagined. The opticians were happy to oblige me with ‘mono’ lenses – one eye sees distances and the other close up when fitted.
I’ve just returned from Contact Lens School, where a young lady called Sophie (they all look so young. She could have been on half term break) taught me how to fit my contact lenses. Now, I’m quite a squeamish person, the idea of rubbing my bare eyeballs with a finger didn’t appeal. But Sophie, my schoolgirl helper, was excellent, telling me exactly how to go about it, with the odd admonishment:
“We want to get those eyelashes out of the way, don’t we?”
“Look straight ahead, no, don’t close your eyes, we won’t be able to get your lenses in, will we?”
As it turned out, I was pretty good at it. Sophie said I was excellent.
“Well done, you were excellent.”
“We were excellent.”
Then she patted my arm and gave me a sympathetic smile. I almost expected a lollipop and sticker. She went through the health and safety aspects: no torn lenses and make sure they’re not inside out.
“How do I know?” I asked.
“Well, the lens has a little cuff around the top of it,” she explained, showing a diagram.
“Oh! So it look a bit like a…” I hesitated. She waited.
I was going to say condom, but at the last moment decided that wasn’t a simile I wished to share with a 14 year old. No doubt me alluding to prophylactics would be enough to make her nauseous.
“A bowl with a cuff. A cuffed bowl.”
“Ye-ess,” she managed.
So, off I went, with a trial pack of daily contact lenses, with instructions to return in another week to be checked by the senior contact lenses operative, who seemed a little older, at least old enough for lower sixth, anyway.
But the moral of this stream of consciousness? How brilliant is it to have contact lenses? WOW. I can see. I realise that my readers, both of you, probably know the benefits of contact lenses already, but please, humour me.
PS – When I had my eyes tested, the optician asked when I wore glasses. For reading and driving, I told her. “Oh – but you come within the legal limits for driving without glasses,” she told me. If only somebody had told me that 40 years ago…