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In his weekly Ward's World column, John Ward talks about annual trips to the optician...

It’s come around to that time of the year again as I get my act together to book my annual eye test to find out how the eyeballs are getting along but basically I see it (pun intended) as my sight MOT test of sorts and have done so just about every year since being a glass, or spectacle, wearer for my own peace of mind.

I have worn glasses since my school days and looking back I now appreciate or realise that everybody in our family wore glasses at one time or another with the exception of Spot, the family black cat, as he could see things in the dark but usually this was his food or saucer of milk.

Columnist John Ward (53354754)
Columnist John Ward (53354754)

My mum, of the people for the people, was late in realising she needed glasses for reading when even the crossword puzzles seemed a challenge so she duly booked in to see our local optician or as she put it: “That’s it – enough’s enough as I need to see the glaziers about getting my eyes looked at.”

I took her there mainly to make sure she did go, more so as the shop next door looked the same frontage-wise but they sold millinery and the thought of her going back home to explain they were very nice in there, her sight was okay but not sure about the hat range but one or two of them could keep the rain or sun off.

All went well initially as the crosswords became clearer afterwards once she was fitted out with her new glasses to see the clues better but she still struggled to spell ‘Zanzibar’ (more than one ‘Z’ –no ‘S’s) when the time arose so no real change there then, but she did agree it was worthwhile going.

As a matter of passing interest plus fills the next part of this page up, now that television has nowadays got so sooper, dooper in picture quality and definition, it’s now even easier to play the game of ‘Do they really need glasses?’ as the dead giveaway is that with some actors they wear glasses to add to, or enhance, the character of the person they are playing.

You can usually tell if the person wearing them requires them or not as the glass is usually perfectly flat, so reflects the light much like a mirror does whereupon ‘real glasses’ are basically curved as they are lenses, not just plain glass.

I came across this many years ago when I worked in the cinema-cum-theatre as we used to have professional touring ‘live shows’ but in one play one of the actors wore glasses but confessed during a tea break he ‘didn’t really need them as they were plain glass’ but that doesn’t explain if that was the case, why on the Thursday evening performance did he nearly walk off the end of the stage into the orchestra pit.

Answers to that one are sadly no longer required as the date for the last entries has now passed although various members of the staff who saw this possible attempted entry into a well known book of records did offer assorted suggestions but were either mainly crude or likely to incite the occasional riot, but if nothing else were inventive.

Back to mum then: over the years her sight remained basically constant in that her lens prescription remained about the same although on one occasion it did change a bit as the optician told her so –she had not encountered him before – and as I had waited for her to take her home, I had the full events relayed to me on the way back.

He had told her that her eyes ‘had changed’ but something she refuted and told him so in no uncertain terms as she explained she owned all her own teeth, nothing false about her such as having to put dentures in and out, so clearly nothing like changing her eyeballs would not come into the matter.

Then he had told her that working on her new, up to date prescription she would “need or rather should have new glasses” but she told him point blank that her present ones were perfectly okay as after all she only stared or looked through them, so how could they be worn out as there were no moving parts to wear out or a battery to conk out either.

I never, ever met this optician but I felt real sympathy for him from just hearing of his locking horns, so to speak, with my mum as in my book he was an unsung hero.

Next up he told her that her left eye was weaker than her right one but she replied that that might be the case from his point of view (there could have been a pun there but we’ll skip it), however, as far as she was concerned they both worked okay but perhaps the left one was a bit weaker but the right one still kept perfect time.

The next stage was the prices of the said new glasses as she explained went ‘from eye, eye to high-high in prices’ and suggested that when Mr Osborne, the local butcher who had his shop window vandalised, it would have worked out cheaper to have had a plate glass window installed in her frames, but she told him she would think about having a new pair.

She told me that her friend Phoebe had found herself in the same situation in needing new glasses and thought they were too expensive but her friend Barbara had ordered a new pair of glasses but before she was able to pick them up, she passed away unexpectedly – Phoebe said it must have been unexpected, otherwise she wouldn’t have bothered going in for the new glasses.

However, this was not lost on her as she inquired that as Babs no longer had need of them, could she have them at a reduced price –like one would – but it was tactfully pointed out that the two prescriptions would be different, so no go but she replied that they were both born just days apart so they wouldn’t be that far out surely?

The old saying of ‘make do and mend’ may have been the inspiration there.

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