The optician engaged me in witty banter about my occupation, wondered whether I could teach him anything. I doubted it. I suspected he was bored, weary of repeating the various tests in a windowless room - puffing air into my eyes to test for glaucoma; photographing an image of my eyeball; and then getting me to read traditional letter charts. I felt, seeing as I was a non-paying customer, that I had to be amenable, so I expressed my concern about the length of time it takes for NHS fees to be paid (up to a year), and I chuckled when he suggested I read the row second from the bottom which was to all intents and purposes illegible. As for the bottom row, it was a series of fuzzy dark rectangles.
Slipping various lenses into the frames sitting on my nose, the optician asked me if they improved (or disproved) my vision. In the interests of being helpful, I gave answers which sounded like disclaimers on advertisements for financial services, "Well, that one makes the letters easier to read but they all have a shadow which is a bit distracting so it may improve my vision, or make it worse, depending on other factors." But I was cut short. Did the lens make it better or worse? Yes. Or No?
I came out with a prescription and went to the desk. A short discussion about glasses ensued, and I said I'd wait to visit with my son, so he could help me choose frames. I was (secretly) thinking that I possibly wouldn't bother after all, glad that my eyes (though a bit worse for seeing print so small I probably wouldn't really need to see it) had been declared healthy.
At the moment I was asked to pay for the test I produced my voucher from my bag with a modest sense of triumph at my organisation. "That'll be £25.00 please," the assistant said. I looked at the voucher again. I read it properly for the first time.
Perhaps it's not my eyesight that's the problem.