My eyesight isn’t very good. My eager-to-please nature meant that whenever I visited the opticians I would try my best to read the letters on the board, screwing up my nose and squinting my eyes in order to get it right. I would usually walk out with a clean bill of eye-health, but as I don’t usually screw my nose up and squint my eyes to see things in my normal day-to-day life, I still wouldn’t be able to see anything clearly. It was only at my most recent couple of eye tests that it occurred to me that the point of reading the numbers off the chart wasn’t to get it right and earn a ‘well done’, it was to look at the board in the way I would usually look out at the world, and see how that went (literally). After this revelation, I came out with the news that my eyes are stigmatic – shaped like rugby balls, rather than footballs – and I can see better when I’m alert and refreshed than I can when I’m tired, as the muscles in my little old eyeballs get wearisome and can’t be bothered to do their job properly if they’re too snoozy (can’t blame them, I’m exactly the same). I got a pair of specs and marvelled at the beauty of things far away that had previously been quite a lot blurrier. I just thought things were supposed to look like that.
Just before my birthday last year I had an odd voicemail from Boots Opticians. It went like this.
“Hello, Miss Richardson, I’m ringing because your glasses have arrived WARGHHHHH”
It was, as voicemail messages go, a bit peculiar. I phoned them back.
“I haven’t ordered any glasses,” I said.
“Are you sure?” she asked.
“I’m pretty sure,” I replied. “I’d remember something like that.”
She did not sound convinced. I tried to change the subject.
“Also, so you can update your records, I’m now married, so if you wouldn’t mind changing my last name to Angus…?”
“Aha!” she said triumphantly. “Perhaps you came in under your MARRIED name!”
I had to explain that memories are not dependent on which name you happen to be using at the time.
A week or so later I received another voicemail.
“Mrs Angus, your glasses are now in WARGHHHHH”
I ignored it.
A few days after that my birthday rolled around, and Ian very sweetly gave me a pair of prescription sunglasses that he had sneakily been liasing with Boots Opticians about. It turned out that the WARGHHH at the end of my voicemails had been them reading the warning on my notes that read ‘DO NOT CALL CUSTOMER’. When they called Ian (after leaving my voicemail) he asked if they’d phoned me first (fully aware that they had as I’d been obliviously telling him about the bizarre voicemails they kept leaving) and they said ‘OH NO NOT AT ALL STILL SECRET WE ARE GOOD AT SECRET’ or something along those lines. But we didn’t mind that they’d nearly blown it, because it gave us a funny story to tell at parties, so every cloud has a silver lining.
Literally, it turns out – I didn’t realise, after all the years of not seeing clearly, and then only seeing clearly in the light, how incredibly beautiful clouds are. They really do have a silver lining. And I can see it because Ian was thoughtful and sweet, and I think that kind of sums up our whole relationship.