"Well, Mr Haig," explained the Specsavers eye bod, "here it is: all of us develop cataracts to some degree or other, but, for your age, I'm afraid you're a little bit ahead of the game. For this reason, and the fact that you work outdoors - where the sun's ultraviolet rays are busily wreaking ocular havoc - I must recommend that you purchase a pair of our Reactions® lenses."
"Are they more expensive than standard varifocals?"
"Of course. Quite a bit more. Which is the third reason why you need some."
Thus was I once again suckered by a plausible sales pitch. Reactions® lenses are Reactolites by another name. The brighter the light, the darker they get. As well as for work I imagined they'd be dead handy for driving and cycling. Well, first of all, a heads-up to my fellow knackered-of-eyes: they don't go dark in the car. That was a surprise. They do however go dark in normal outdoor situations. Very dark. Excellent! I thought, and several days ago headed out on my first bike ride this year, confident that my eyes would be suitably protected and in tip-top shape for nailing the identity of every bird I saw because, yes, this was the official inauguration of my 2017 'Birds from the Bike' list...
Straight away I noticed a problem. My specs darkened up quickly and sucked the colour from everything. The lenses turn grey, rather than that nice warm brown that makes the world all bright and cheerful, so birds flying out of the roadside hedges became dark, colourless silhouettes. I began to regret my choice of eyewear.
I had this sneaky plan to cycle past a certain farm near Litton Cheney where a Cattle Egret had apparently been loitering some days earlier. Approaching the farm I slowed and was astounded to see a field full of loafing egrets. Thirteen of them. Through my Reactions® lenses they were all small and mid-grey and sharply in focus. Unfortunately they were also just that bit too far off to do without bins. I craned forwards as far as I could. They edged away suspiciously. I lowered my specs, hoping for a teeny hint of yellow bill somewhere. They all turned a helpful white, an unhelpful blurry and remained just as small. I squinted desperately. To no avail. And their collective inactivity rendered them all devoid of jizz. I was snookered...
Despite cycling past the farm many times previously, I have never before noticed a single egret in that field, let alone thirteen. Four more were in a nearby field, even further away. Since that day last week I've tried another three times and - you've guessed it - no egrets whatsoever.
Would clear lenses have made a difference? Possibly not. And perhaps they were all Little Egrets anyway. I hope so. Stupid glasses.