The Weasel: A spectacle of myself

Share
Related Topics

The striking depiction of the Weasel by Lucinda Rogers that illuminates this column on a weekly basis is, of course, an impeccably accurate likeness of the author. But if compelled to make a criticism of my likeness I might point out that the specs are wrong. I went through my John Lennon phase over two decades ago. Though fine for the sardonic Scouser's beaky nose, they didn't do much for the Weaselian features, even with the oh-so-cool (or so I thought) amendment of a blue tint to the lenses. After that, I had a brief flirtation with contact lenses. This was even less of a success since the soft lenses failed to correct my astigmatism. "Have you ever considered wearing glasses with your contact lenses?" inquired the ophthalmologist. Whenever I've told the story to opticians they find nothing amusing in it at all.

After ditching the contacts, I continued with metal frames in various shapes, none of them entirely successful. There is a distinct danger with these spectacles that, while believing you look like Eric Clapton, you actually bear a strong resemblance to the nasty SS bloke in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Eventually, I decided to return to plastic frames. I'd worn various types of these in the distant past. Most were fairly conventional in shape, akin to those worn by Superman's alter-ego Clark Kent, Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby and, come to think, the big band leader Billy Cotton. At one point I sported a pair with hexagonal lenses purchased when I fell under the potent influence of Vivian Stanshall. (Ageing zanies may recall that his idiosyncratic giglamps featured as a cut-out on the cover of the Bonzo Dog Band LP Tadpoles.)

The only trouble about returning to plastic frames is that they are rather hard to find. Though high-street opticians sell a vast range of styles, they are almost all metal frames. I had a moment of optimism in a local specs shop when I saw the manager was wearing a rather flash pair in green plastic. He was amused when I asked if the shop had any in stock. "Oh, no!" he trilled. "You can't get these here!" Occasionally, I would see desirable plastic frames, but always perched on famous noses rather than in opticians' windows. The provenance of such cool correctives remained a mystery. Where, for example, did Dr David Starkey get his stylish tortoiseshell specs?

Eventually I was given the chance to resolve this quandary when I interviewed the celebrated historian. Here is the full text of our exchange. Weasel: "Where did you get your specs?" Dr Starkey: "From a shop called Opera Opera on Long Acre in Covent Garden." Leaving a Roadrunner-style trail of dust in my wake, I vamoosed for WC2. The shop in question turned out to be a fabulous repository of optical plastic. Speccy wearers can choose from the Hank B Marvin, the Johnny Depp, the Austin Powers or even the heart-shaped Lolita. I tried the Dr Starkey but they were not quite me. Instead, I went for the Jonathan Meades in clear plastic and matching sunglasses in tortoiseshell. They were fine in every respect except price. Two pairs of varifocals cost the wrong side of £800.

That was four years ago. Since then, my prescription has changed due to the effects of aging augmenting my familiar astigmatism. Returning to Opera Opera for two new pairs of glasses, I traded up to some slightly more expensive frames. The bill came to £1,200. This was more than a little knee-weakening, especially since many folk seem quite happy with ready-made reading specs from the chemist for £7.99. On the other hand, when I told my culinary friends Fergus Henderson and Jeremy Lee, both of whom wear distinctive plastic-framed glasses, of my stupendous outlay, their response was reassuring. "A bargain!" they exclaimed. Well, they might be a bargain if I actually wore them. There is a tendency for spec purchasers to stick to their old, inefficient glasses rather than take the plunge with a new prescription. "Make sure wear them!" was the parting adieu from Opera Opera. Yes, I promise I will do one day in the foreseeable future.



eas and beans are great for getting kids involved in real food," announced Mark Hix in these pages recently. "It pays to have extra pairs of hands to get the podding done." I'm sorry to break it to Mark, but such leguminous education has been singularly lacking in this neck of the woods judging by Mrs W's recent experience at Sainsbury's. On three separate visits, she was asked at the check-out to identify an exotic vegetable she wished to purchase. "There're peas," she explained. Eager to provide enlightenment, she shucked a pod for the baffled cashiers.

"Coo, they're all in a row!" one of her interrogators, though another was less impressed. "Doneatvege," explained the young gourmet.

A leading food producer has come to the assistance of Britain's bewildered youth by revising the name of another legume. The product sold as Heinz Baked Beans since 1886 and, more recently, as Heinz Baked Beanz is to be labelled Heinz Beanz from next month. A company spokesman explained the contraction was required since the current appellation is "a bit of a mouthful to pronounce". Though peas in pod are an unfathomable mystery to the jeunesse d'orée of south London, my friend Mark may be gratified to learn that they can manage a mouthful of beans – or, at any rate, beanz.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior IP Opportunity at Major Firm

vary Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - AN OPENING AT A VERY HIGH Q...

Nursery Manager

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...

Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Liberal Democrats leader says efforts need to be focused on cracking down on the criminal gangs  

Nick Clegg: We should to go to war on drugs, not on addicts

Nick Clegg
East German border guards stand on a section of the Berlin wall in front of the Brandenburg gate on November 11, 1989  

Twenty-five years after the Berlin Wall fell, Hungary’s PM thinks it is Western capitalism that is in its death throes

Peter Popham
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes