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

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
George Osborne appearing on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, 5 July 2015  

George Osborne says benefits should be capped at £20,000 to meet average earnings – but working families take home £31,500

Ellie Mae O'Hagan
The BBC has agreed to fund the £650m annual cost of providing free television licences for the over-75s  

Osborne’s assault on the BBC is doing Murdoch’s dirty work

James Cusick James Cusick
Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high