Coming away from Secret Garden Party on the morning of Monday 29th July this year, more than a little fucked, I caught a train from Peterborough to Leeds. I’d bought a paper, so I took off my distance specs, put on my reading specs, opened the paper and fell straightway into blessed sleep.
I woke up in Leeds, gathered up my stuff, (so I thought), trotted down the platform, onto Leeds station concourse, and realised that I’d left my distance specs on the train. I spoke to the platform staff, the train cleaners and the lost property people, none of whom were the slightest bit concerned to help me in anyway; Leeds being in Yorkshire, you’ll remember.
So there I was; no distance specs. Couldn’t drive. Couldn’t watch telly. Wandered about in reading specs with eyes screwed up.
So I had to get some new distance specs. A note here for my non-short sighted chums who suggested I just went to the chemist and got some, they’re only a tenner and I’ve had them years… that’s great. You have some age related deterioration in your eyesight, and those tenner specs will do you fine. But I’ve worn specs since I was seven. It is not an affectation. I have very bad eyesight. I need to go to an optician to have powerful specs made up, and, I promise you, you can’t get those for a tenner from the chemist, or, since I’m not stupid, I would have been buying them for years.
The next handy tip that people offered me was ‘go to Spec Savers.’ And you know what, I did. I really did. And Rayners. But, here’s the thing; my head is big, and not just metaphorically. It is really big. So my specs need to be big. They need to be wide, and the side-arms need to be long. And, although it seems incredible, none of the frame manufacturers make large specs. All of those shitty designer specs; Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss the Nazi lovers etc., all come in one standard size. SpecSavers etc told me that they couldn’t help. The excellent optician in Leominster, Peter Meredith, who did take the time to help, told me that all specs now come in a standard size; and that the only people who could sort me were still Anglo-American, (who’ve been making my specs since the Eighties) who would make me a pair. And that it would take six to eight weeks. And today, 19th September, eight weeks later, I have my new distance specs. Hoo fecking rah.
But the astounding thing that Peter Meredith told me when he was fitting my new specs is that in the old days of NHS specs, they came in four different sizes; and that back before the privatisation of eyecare, there would have been no problem at all in fitting me, and it would have taken about a week.
So, there you have it. The free market triumphs again. We have no choice, except in the name on the side of the frames, for which we pay big bucks. SpecSavers would have willingly sold me a pair that were miles too small, because ‘that’s all there is,’ but at least they would have been designer.
Design my arse, fucknuts.