Wednesday, 18 June 2008

'Eye, eye'

I had an uncle who had one of the earliest cataract operations in the country, not many years after the war. I only remember him having one contbut act lens. It was the size of a ten pence piece with one part raised and always reminded me of a sea shell. But best remembered was the fact that he used to clean it with Brasso, unbelievable true. It must have surely affected the capability of the lens and how his eye never became infected is beyond comprehension. Though I do remember his eye was often bloodshot in the extreme.
I have one good eye, the left has very limited vision and has evidently been so probably since birth. Only I never realised until undergoing an army medical in the late fifties. (The proper army, honest, not the Salvation.) But it would explain why, having no three dimensional vision I was such a lousy batsman at cricket. The ball was often past me before I picked up its flight. (Plus being hit round the ribs frequently does little for your confidence; neither does a low pain threshold help.)
I was fitted, after tests involving space age equipment with a single (left eye)) contact lens by a knowledgeable optician. Eyes at the ready I thanked him profusely and marched out confidently, promptly colliding with the door frame, suffering mild concussion and one hell of an headache.
I persevered for many a month but eventually admitted defeat, having, I fear nearly put several cyclists on the nearside of my car into the nearest available ditches. What happened eventually to the lens I have no idea, it will probably turn up as the loft contents diminish.
Neither is my wife immune from eye problems. She was a young and attractive young lady when we first met, the owner of large round spectacles so befitting of the era. (In case she reads this, you are still attractive, my dear in spite of the passing years.) Self conscious, fashion conscious too, Paulette was talked into being fitted with contact lenses. Then the fun really started.
I often got the impression my wife peered into the distance rather than merely looked, like ordinary mortals. They, the lenses had to be found and inserted before any excursion, however small and even then you were never sure if they were in or out, so to speak. And if they ever did 'pop out' what followed could be stressful, pandemic and sometimes even entertaining.
The earliest search I remember was going on honeymoon. The car full of confetti, thousands of coloured pieces of paper versus one dropped lens. Result, confetti, five thousand; lens nil. One one eyed bride; one one eyed bridegroom.
One once went missing on a sand slide from the sand hills to the beach near Cromer. "Stop, stand still" once again came the plaintive cry, "I've lost a lens." Again ten minutes of entertainment for all, including the children, bystanders and the dog. The latter incidentally particularly enjoyed the digging, spraying sand in all directions. I reckon he thought we were hiding it, not burying it. Result, ten million, million, million particles of sand, lens nil.
I did once recover a lens after yet another of my wife's mishaps. She lost it, in of all places the shower. At least we knew where it had gone, obviously down the plughole. From the drain outside I collected in the region of a dozen jam jars full of foul smelling, black, oozing, putrefying semi liquid filth. I patiently filtered the oozing substance. Every handful contained at least one beetle carcass that felt to the touch unbelievably like a contact lens. And, after an hours patient searching I got the little blighter. Triumphantly I returned my prize to my wife. Only she wouldn't reinsert it in her eye, not now, not never. Rather a waste of my efforts, I thought, but in retrospect who could blame her after where it had been, though not in the same league as Brasso.
Contact lenses, at least the early ones often had the knack of adhering to clothes after they had fallen out. Walk around and you could redistribute them anywhere. The trick was to strip off completely, the wearer not the searcher and place your clothes in a neat pile. Then you could search diligently, the pile of clothes first and then the rest of the room. For under thirties it became a very interesting few minutes that could be stretched somewhat if you spotted the elusive lens but didn't let on, so to speak. If you happened to be in Woolworth's shopping definitely a good time was had by all.
We are older now and neither my wife nor I wear contact lenses. I normally make do, for reading at least, with pairs from Lidl, Aldi or Home Bargains, priced from ninety nine pence per pair. Prescription number 2.5 0r 3.0. You need to know this, Lidl's glasses are sealed and woe betide you if you open a packet to try them on. The Croation employee patrolling the isles of our nearest store has had lessons and can hear the rustle of a packet being opened from all of a hundred feet. I own never less than seven pairs at any one time and can nearly always find a pair when I need them. Strangely enough they are seldom less fragile than the ultra expensive pairs of driving glasses I buy from the opticians. For the arms fall off them all, they don't like you sitting on them and I seldom have both bridge pieces after a week or so.
So life goes on and we go along with it. But just occasionally I miss those searches for the elusive lens! There again we were young and foolish. Perhaps we had better stay with spectacles. What do you think.

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