Glasses

I remember my first pair of glasses. I was just in my teens and they were a pair of NHS Specials. Ghastly things. Once day I had them in my music case when mum asked me to get milk on my way home from my piano lesson. I accidentally dropped the tan, faux leather case and smashed the bottle of milk, emptying the drookit contents into the bins at the gable end of our tenement. As soon as I did it I realised I had consigned my specs to the filthy steel rubbish receptacle, to lie among the tattie peelings and yesterday’s newspapers. There were numerous wee boys, midgie rakers, who would go through bin contents just for fun. I could have easily asked one of them to get them out for me, but I was well shot of my ‘bins’, glad not to have to wear them any more.

I have vivid memories of sitting exams, writing at speed while not being able to see what I was writing so when I started work and had some money of my own, I knew I had to get glasses again. And this is when my real relationship with eyewear began.

Believe it or not, I used to be terribly shy. I hated having to go and speak to people I didn’t know, hated having to sit through meetings where I was supposed to be the ‘expert’, hated having to stand up and talk to people. Whenever I had to do something that made me uncomfortable I put on my reading glasses, whether I needed them or not. They became a shield, a screen behind which the real Annette hid. I found I could handle things much better when I wore my disguise and soon began to rely on them to survive the working day.

It wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I needed to wear spectacles for distance sight too. Of course, I’m no longer what you would call shy and rather than hiding behind my glasses, they have become a further statement of who I am. One of the benefits of growing older – OK, the ONLY benefit – is caring not a jot about what other people think. It is incredibly liberating to realise that the world barely notices me, let alone cares about something as trivial as what I wear. My first full-time glasses were brown plastic tortoiseshell effect. My second pair was brown plastic tortoiseshell effect. My third pair was… Let’s just say there was a pattern to my choice of eyewear.

Then I turned 50.

My husband came with me to help choose my new glasses. He knew I wanted something different but, as usual, I was looking at brown plastic tortoiseshell effect frames. “Look at these,” he said, placing a pair of frames in my hand. He had handed me a pair of cats’ eyes shaped glasses in a nude and brown leopard print. It was love at first sight.

NT32“George,” I said. “These are my Fuck It I’m Fifty glasses!”

Oh, how I loved my glasses. Wherever I went I was complimented on them. They made me feel bold, confident, sassy – everything I wasn’t when I was younger. They became such an intrinsic part of my identity I couldn’t imagine ever wearing anything different.

And then, one day last week, I snapped the leg off. They were irreparable and discontinued. I was heart broken.

I went to choose new frames and liked nothing in the shop. They had some black cats’ eyes frames but they were too heavy for my colouring and too small for my face; they had some John Lennon style round frames but on me they looked like Benny Hill’s; they had brown plastic tortoiseshell effect frames but….

photo 2In desperation I saw a pair of white frames in a shape not too different from my old specs and tried them on. While they will never take the place of my FIIF glasses, I actually rather like them. In future my glasses will be white like my conscience – Oy! I can hear you laughing from here, you know!

At least, they will be white for the next two years…

 

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18 Comments

  1. Margot Kinberg
    Jan 20, 2014

    Nettie – Having worn glasses/contact lenses for most of my life, I know exactly how you feel about finding the perfect ones. Those FIIF specs are great. But the white ones are lovely, too, and as you say, there’ll be other glasses. Perhaps the best ones you’ve ever seen are coming up next…

    • Nettie
      Jan 20, 2014

      Oh, I do hope so, Margot! Thank you x

  2. Margot Kinberg
    Jan 20, 2014

    Nettie – Having worn glasses/contact lenses for most of my life, I know exactly how you feel about finding the perfect ones. Those FIIF specs are great. But the white ones are lovely, too, and as you say, there’ll be other glasses. Perhaps the best ones you’ve ever seen are coming up next…

    • Nettie
      Jan 20, 2014

      Oh, I do hope so, Margot! Thank you x

  3. Anne Stormont
    Jan 20, 2014

    Haha! I love the concept of FIIF specs 🙂 I’ve worn glasses since I was 12. I had contacts for ten years in my thirties but went back to glasses when I couldn’t be bothered with the faff of lenses. Now have red rimmed vari-focals with zebra-pattern legs. I do like your new look – very different from the FIIFs – stunning in a different way.

    • Nettie
      Jan 20, 2014

      Thank you so much, Anne. Yours sound fab too!

  4. Anne Stormont
    Jan 20, 2014

    Haha! I love the concept of FIIF specs 🙂 I’ve worn glasses since I was 12. I had contacts for ten years in my thirties but went back to glasses when I couldn’t be bothered with the faff of lenses. Now have red rimmed vari-focals with zebra-pattern legs. I do like your new look – very different from the FIIFs – stunning in a different way.

    • Nettie
      Jan 20, 2014

      Thank you so much, Anne. Yours sound fab too!

  5. Jacqueline Pye
    Jan 21, 2014

    The white specs are cool, Nettie. Now wondering if soft purple cat eyes would a possible next time for you. My first pair was NHS small nearly-round tortoiseshell; it was the thing to remove the tortoiseshell to reveal cute gold frames. At a milestone age I went for purple & lime frames, and now quite big round tortoiseshell – the optician said they look geeky and they do! Specs are such fun.

    • Nettie
      Jan 21, 2014

      Ooh – yours sound really funky! I love a deep royal purple – my dining room curtains are such a colour – but I always feel the lighter shades are a bit washed out. I don’t really suit purples or reds in glasses and I have always secretly hankered after a pair of red frames. Blues are OK, but I’m alays scared my bins clash with my jumper! What I need is a fortune to spend on a pair to match every piece of knitwear I own!

  6. Jacqueline Pye
    Jan 21, 2014

    The white specs are cool, Nettie. Now wondering if soft purple cat eyes would a possible next time for you. My first pair was NHS small nearly-round tortoiseshell; it was the thing to remove the tortoiseshell to reveal cute gold frames. At a milestone age I went for purple & lime frames, and now quite big round tortoiseshell – the optician said they look geeky and they do! Specs are such fun.

    • Nettie
      Jan 21, 2014

      Ooh – yours sound really funky! I love a deep royal purple – my dining room curtains are such a colour – but I always feel the lighter shades are a bit washed out. I don’t really suit purples or reds in glasses and I have always secretly hankered after a pair of red frames. Blues are OK, but I’m alays scared my bins clash with my jumper! What I need is a fortune to spend on a pair to match every piece of knitwear I own!

  7. Lisa Shambrook
    Jan 21, 2014

    I hated my NHS glasses, way back when…electric blue, nude, and tortoiseshell brown…couldn’t wait to replace them as an adult! In fact I declined wearing glasses at 14, and didn’t start again until I realised I actually couldn’t see hubby waiting at the end of the aisle when we got married! I got new ones pretty quick when I had a little one running around…it’s best to keep your eye on babies and it helps to be able to see them!
    I love your choices, I’m more reserved in mine, but maybe one day I’ll throw away the inhibitions, not the glasses!

  8. Lisa Shambrook
    Jan 21, 2014

    I hated my NHS glasses, way back when…electric blue, nude, and tortoiseshell brown…couldn’t wait to replace them as an adult! In fact I declined wearing glasses at 14, and didn’t start again until I realised I actually couldn’t see hubby waiting at the end of the aisle when we got married! I got new ones pretty quick when I had a little one running around…it’s best to keep your eye on babies and it helps to be able to see them!
    I love your choices, I’m more reserved in mine, but maybe one day I’ll throw away the inhibitions, not the glasses!

  9. chrissie
    Jan 22, 2014

    I had my first pair of glasses at 43, as I have a small head, most glasses seemed to take over my face and I tried desperately not to wear them. I now have a pair that I am trying to learn to see short and long distance but when I try to read I turn into a nodding dog and end up with neck ache. I had the exact same pair as your leopard print ones and loved them but the leg on mine also snapped within three weeks 🙁 tried glueing them but no chance so in the bin they went. Bloody hate glasses! I like your new white ones, do try not to sit on them

    • Nettie
      Jan 22, 2014

      Ah – it sounds like you have varifocals too. I can read great with them when sitting upright, but for reading in bed and doing close work like sewing, I go back to a pair of reading glasses. This might help you too – and I’ll certainly try not to sit on mine!
      Thanks for taking the time to comment :0)

  10. chrissie
    Jan 22, 2014

    I had my first pair of glasses at 43, as I have a small head, most glasses seemed to take over my face and I tried desperately not to wear them. I now have a pair that I am trying to learn to see short and long distance but when I try to read I turn into a nodding dog and end up with neck ache. I had the exact same pair as your leopard print ones and loved them but the leg on mine also snapped within three weeks 🙁 tried glueing them but no chance so in the bin they went. Bloody hate glasses! I like your new white ones, do try not to sit on them

    • Nettie
      Jan 22, 2014

      Ah – it sounds like you have varifocals too. I can read great with them when sitting upright, but for reading in bed and doing close work like sewing, I go back to a pair of reading glasses. This might help you too – and I’ll certainly try not to sit on mine!
      Thanks for taking the time to comment :0)

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