I used to think that I would grow old disgracefully, but now that I'm getting there, I've decided that gracefully will be a lot less hassle.
Nature is a wonderful thing. It's amazing how, as your body goes into a slow deterioration, your eyesight begins to fade so you don't notice it quite so much when you look in the mirror. Those grey hairs blur into the brown and the wrinkles smooth out. I've been managing for quite some time with 99p shop reading glasses. I get through a pair every couple of weeks, as they're constantly coming in and out of my back pocket. But it's a right pain. Even just taking a photo, they come off so I can look at the subject, back on so I can see the camera. On and off all the time. Then I sit down or forget they're in a pocket and either the arm or the frame snaps or the lens scratches. The children at school always notice. "Is that a new pair of glasses Mr Pegden?"
I peer over the top and explain how the last pair broke.
It must be several years now since my arms became too short to hold the book far enough away that I could focus on the words. But in the last couple of years, something else has happened. For everything in the distance has also become blurred, and everything in between. I can no longer see how long is left when I watch football on the TV. I can hardly even read the TV guide. Even the large writing on signs has become difficult to read and I have completely given up on small print.
But the real crunch has come in the last few months. And it's serious. For I can no longer tell a sparrow from a chaffinch, a blue tit from a goldfinch, a redwing from a song thrush. Of course, there are still clues, such as the way a bird feeds, hops or flies, the calls it makes. But without clear vision, I very much doubt I would be able to pick out the subtle differences if a rare little warbler was hopping about in a hedge right in front of me.
So yesterday I took the plunge. I'd been to King's Lynn Hospital for an ultrasound (I have become more familiar with the NHS as I have got older too) and we needed to pop into the big Tesco to buy some ingredients for the Blokes Baking Group. It's not often these days that we visit the supermarket, let alone what they now call a superstore. And so it was that I noticed the in-store opticians. "Do I need to make an appointment?" "We might be able to fit you in today, Sir." Well, I had things to do, places to go, and didn't intend to hang around on the outskirts of King's Lynn for several hours. "We could do you now."
So that was that. My first eye test since university. And boy, did I need it! Miracles happened. Tiny writing which I'd long since given up on, even with the aid of reading glasses, came alive. And looking beyond that, the world leapt into clarity. Distant blurred objects suddenly became crisp and sharp. I chose my frames, bought every option on the lenses and purchased my vision back. All I have to do now is wait a couple of weeks while my new bionic body part is manufactured.
My new eyes should be with me just in time for the main migration period.
It's scary how you can not notice a gradual change until you are able to take a step back in time and see how things used to be.
On that note, my body feels achy this morning. I'm sure it didn't used to feel like this!
Anyway, I'm off to spend the next two weeks looking in the mirror admiring my lack of any grey hair whatsoever and my amazingly smooth skin.
See you all soon!