It's done. I went to Specsavers in Brighton this morning and first had my overdue sight test, then chose new frames for the new lenses I now need. They will be ready for wearing next week.
The comprehensive sight test revealed that my eyes were healthy, but (as I suspected) my near vision needs correction, as both eyes have become more long-sighted since my last test in May 2011. I can now look forward to seeing crisper print in books and on my much-used tablet. Away from leisure use, the new specs will let me read the often tiny print on food packets without resorting to a magnifying-glass!
The set-up at a big shop like Specsavers in Brighton allows various members of staff to deal with some aspect of your appointment in turn. First, the initial reception, including (for the first time in my experience) an NHS form to claim that I am now over 60 and entitled to a free sight test. No bagatelle that - it's £21. Not having to pay is most welcome. Second, the test itself, with plenty of opportunity to discuss the results, and ask about what kind of new specs would best suit the prescription, and why. Third, the actual selection of new frames. I'd had an exhaustive look at Specsavers' website, where you can upload a face photo of yourself and 'try on' whatever frame takes your fancy. I'd saved a series of images, and transferred this 'shortlist' of five frames that I'd liked to my tablet, so that I could show these pictures to the two ladies who were helping me with the section. I think one of them was being trained up, but it was nice to have two persons' opinions as I tried the frames on for real, and considered how they sat on the three-dimensional Melford face.
There was a snag for me when looking in the mirror, in that the display frames only had dummy plastic lenses, and I couldn't clearly see what I looked like wearing them. They were all quite similar. No problem: the girl leading the selection process took photos of me wearing each of the specs in turn, with an iPad, and I was then able to study the pictures with my present glasses on.
In my shortlist were the specs that I wear just now (which have the style-name of 'Krissy', if you want to find them on Specsavers' website - look in the £45 range). They have gold metal frames, oval, with no decoration. I'd been wearing them since February 2010, and (quite understandably) I now wanted something slightly different. I would stay with practical gold metal frames, but I wanted a more rounded look. And I wasn't averse to some discreet decoration as well - the Krissy frames were perfectly good-looking and functional, but except for being oval not especially feminine. I felt I needed the odd twirly bit to tone down the functionality.
Eventually my choice rested on the 'Alice' frames - same price - which seemed to boost my facial allure in the way I was after, and were comfortable to wear. The total cost was £234, of which £189 related to the varifocal lenses being fitted.
Of course, some hours later, I am now wobbling a bit over having different frames. Despite the wish to have a more feminine look, I'm asking myself whether I won't miss the clean uncluttered lines of my old specs! Perhaps these new ones will look odd, even though they seemed a brilliant choice at the shop, both ladies also thinking them the nicest.
Sigh. It's inevitable post-purchase regret. It's how it is with all important purchases. I had it with my camera. I had it with Fiona. I had it with my tablet. I had it with my cooker. Now I'm having it with a metal-and-glass device that will sit on the front of my fat face. It'll be all right. I shall go through a natural process of getting used to the new glasses, and quickly come to love them. After all, the 'new look' won't be radically different. It will be really good. It will still be practical. It won't clash with any part of my wardrobe. Nor will it make a strident statement of any kind (as those 'designer' frames tend to do). It'll be all right. Indeed, these new glasses will make me seem a fraction prettier - now that'll be a most welcome bonus!
I do have pictures, but I won't show them yet. But expect a photo-fest in early November. Especially if I buy something fashionable for the winter during the week ahead, in Nottingham or Peterborough perhaps, because I'm off again shortly on a short late-autumn break.
Most likely, however, I'll spend my holiday cash on eating out, and at markets. I particularly fancy a traditional pie from Melton Mowbray, from the very best shop I can find there, one big enough to fill the fridge on the caravan! Wicked but yummy.