I know you’re all fascinated by the intimate personal details of my life so you’ll be pleased to know that the last thing I do before I go to bed is take my glasses off. I do this partly because I don’t want to roll over in my sleep and crack them and partly because I want my dreams to be fuzzy and soft-edged and slightly misty.
The other night, in a hotel on my holidays, I reached up to take my glasses off, and, like a man who finds the bin has already been taken out, discovered that I’d already removed them.
I looked at the table near where I’d just been sitting. No glasses. I looked on the windowsill. Specless. I went into the bathroom and gazed around me like a prospective buyer being shown round a house and found that the area was devoid of spectacles. I tapped the top of my head because we’ve all lost them there (come on, admit it) but they weren’t nestling in my quiff.
I quite often mislay my glasses in the house and then there’s a long, despairing and increasingly tetchy parade of going from room to room, moving newspapers and books, looking in jacket pockets and, as a last resort, combing through bins.
It’s slightly different when you lose anything in a hotel room because, unless you’re in a really posh establishment, the room is going to be smaller than your house. This made it all the more frustrating when I couldn’t find the glasses. There were only about nine places to look in the room, and I looked in them all. Twice. We concluded that I must have left them in the pub we visited earlier. I’d had haggis balls and when the waiter said, “I’ll just go and grab your haggis balls,” it made me laugh so much I remember taking my glasses off to wipe my eyes with a serviette.
And I must have left them on the table. It was late so I went to bed and the next morning we returned to the pub to enquire. No luck. I showed the man where we’d been sitting and he assured me that no specs had turned up.
I kept telling my fellow holidaymakers, my wife and my grandson, Thomas, that it didn’t really matter, that I didn’t need glasses anyway, but really I was a bit worried. Occasionally I found myself listing heavily to starboard, like a Barnsley skiff in a squall.
We went back to the room and I became convinced I’d lost them down the easy chair that was the room’s standout feature. I put my hand down the back of the chair, convinced I could feel my missing specs deep below.
I wiggled the arm further in, further. It became just a little stuck. Just a little. I began to panic, thinking I’d have to spend the rest of the holiday with a chair on the end of my arm. I pulled and nothing happened except pain and discomfort. I pulled again and my hand came out with a plop.
I went, as a last resort, to the reception desk and there they were, my glasses, winking at me, just where I’d left them earlier. I put them on and the world steadied and focussed. We went back to the pub for more haggis balls, to celebrate.
I could see them really, really clearly.