glasses
I need to get my glasses fixed. They’re six years old, and it’s been four years since I sat on them, bending one of the arms horribly out of shape (then sort of nearly back again), and a month since I ham-fistedly glued the four-ply horn frames together in two places with Araldite epoxy resin. They’re already coming apart again, and I have attempted twice on consecutive evenings this week to mend them after the weakened arm separated during rehearsals for international Guitar Idol finals on Thursday. My first repair survived a second day of rehearsal, but then caved at the prospect of a 90-minute midnight video conference session with master’s students in Boston. The subsequent repair, less confident than the first, lasted through a family photo-shoot but then crumpled ahead of a tube journey into central London, leaving me to wear my nondescript boring replacement pair that make my nose hurt and my eyes feel strange.

I really rather love my exclusive buffalo horn glasses. They have come in a way to define my look. I’d never really thought, until very recently, that I had a “look”, and although I probably don’t have one now either, these glasses have meant more to me than any essential accessory since I went through a mandatory trilby phase for about eighteen months in my early twenties to (fail to) disguise a disastrous attempt at growing my hair. The glasses tie together my professional personas, I feel, providing a sort of GDS brand unification (a notion, be assured, that definitely feels like utter tosh). They suit the self-deprecating comedy blogger well, and round off the scholar nicely too – they go especially well with the beige Ferrand corduroy jacket with elbow patches and hot pink lining that Atar Shafighian made me buy in the late summer of 2011, in time for the College Music Society conference in Richmond, Virginia where the temperature was 20 degrees higher that I’d expected and on which trip I discovered I’d forgotten to bring any shirts (that was also the visit where I found the best hot sauce I’ve ever eaten – it was green, and in bottles in a Mexican restaurant on my way back to the motel along Highway 29. I brought some back for Atar, who was immensely grateful, but have never found it since, except for on a website that doesn’t ship to the UK). And when I play drums I like to think that the glasses imply such an air of literary and academic gravitas, combined with inevitable stilted and groove-less un-musicality, that audiences are pleasantly surprised when I drum with a heady cocktail drawn from: loudly, appropriately, rocking, too-fast, and kicking-more-ass-than-they-might-have-expected.

I have spent three of the past 24 hours browsing the website of luxury opticians Cutler and Gross for possible replacement spectacles, and, following the expert counsel of my wife, decide to visit the store this afternoon and ask about repairs. Liz’s advice is a sensible response to my discovery that the glasses I own retail at £1,095, without lenses. That I was sold mine for just a fraction of that, by a former driving student who worked for this Knightsbridge purveyor of eyewear to the stars, is humbling and motivating. It is with some trepidation that I take the glasses to Cutler and Gross for termination or transformative surgery.

The girl serving customers eyes me distrustfully, as though, in drum t-shirt and Converse, weighed down with a snare drum, cymbals, double bass drum pedal, sticks, and an oversize ‘90s headphone amplifier, I can mean only trouble. She fails to disguise the condescension in her voice as she asks to see my frames, and equally to mask the disappointment on her face when she finds that I am indeed a bona fide pre-existing customer with some tasty boutique glasses, her attention, and, now, the upper hand. She says she has to go and get someone, and darts from the store at a run. She returns three minutes later, alone (I was expecting bouncers or perhaps an ophthalmologist), and promptly serves another customer (somewhat rounder, and clearly more handsomely-paid than I), who has just arrived in the store. As the fatter man leaves with two pairs of new glasses, another staff member arrives with some lunch and I notice in her face a resemblance to Minaz, who sold me my specs six years previously. I ask if they’re related, and she affirms that they’re sisters. Suddenly we’re the best of friends, and joking about her sibling’s driving. She deftly beguiles me into giving piano lessons to her six-year-old daughter, even after I have said that I can’t and I won’t, and between us we accidentally convince my previous interlocutor (now completing the relevant documentation) that my name is Gareth Southgate. As she changes my details to the correct ones (a Gareth, resident in Southgate), she softens, laughs, and asks her colleague to confirm the cost of repairing my frames. My new BFF Sharezah says not to worry about the price, as I’ll receive the friends-and-family rate. Naturally, I do not ask what this means, instead assuming it’s fantastic, and immediately planning to buy a further unnecessary and expensive pair of super-chic spare glasses for, well, no real reason at all. I sadden at the news that my glasses will take four weeks to be fixed, but lighten my step when a third staff member hastens to open the door for me as I lift the box containing my bass drums pedals to do the same. I leave feeling weird, and hungry for chocolate or cakes.

 

 

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