Entertainment People Red Symons: Maybe you’re looking but seeing something very blurry
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Red Symons: Maybe you’re looking but seeing something very blurry

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If you walk around constantly wearing a pair of glasses that turn everything upside down, it takes less than a week for your brain to adapt to the fact that this is the way things are.

I presume this is how babies, discharged from the womb, spend their first few months of looking.

While we’re there, Erikson’s theory of child development imagines that the mind is like the rings of an onion. Each year a new layer of experience forms and moderates the earlier impulses.

While you may still have the lewd impulses of a 15-year-old, the 50-year-old layer decides it’s not such a good idea.

I have studied pretty much everything but not very deeply. Some of my friends studied things while I just idly flicked through their textbooks.

I’m like a jackdaw with information. I just hoard the sparkly bits that I like.

I was 13 and at school when I first tried on a friend’s glasses and looked out the window to discover that a tree was transformed from being a green cloud to the sharp precision of individual leaves.

Putting on glasses was like seeing for the first time. Maybe because I was. Photo: Getty

Sadly, people were also more pimply than I realised.

I didn’t need glasses in the classroom to read the blackboard but, some years later in lecture theatres, I most definitely did because the blackboard was too far away. I suppose I could have sat at the front but, like the cool kids on the bus, I preferred to sit at the back wearing second-hand glasses.

In my early 20s, a group of us drove to Sydney for a music festival and it was on the way home, at night, that it became my turn to drive.

Back then the interstate highway was just a country road and, without glasses, the only way I could anticipate the road ahead was to squint at the receding headlights of the car ahead.

All else was darkness.

This near-death experience prompted me to get prescription glasses rather than, like the working classes of the last century and my grandmother and I, trying on second-hand glasses until close enough was good enough.

On the downside, at first it’s hard to wear them and walk because the ground appears too close.

On the further-downside, I believe the Impressionists were simply painting what they saw – a bit blurry. Was it glasses that ushered in Cubism?

Life hack: Prescription glasses are a good alternative to carrying around a magnifying glass. Photo: Getty

As you get older, the lens of your eye becomes more stiff and the muscles which flex the lens between distance and close-up become less effective. The solution is bifocals.

I went through a period when, taking a coffee alfresco on a balmy spring morning, I would look up from the newspaper to see a “person of interest” walking by. I didn’t need glasses to read but I did need them to indulge my passing fancy.

It was too obvious to scrabble for my glasses every time this happened so I acquired multi-focal glasses which enabled me to look up and drink in the sight whilst feigning an air of bored detachment.

If you wear glasses and sometimes misplace them, can I advise that the first place to look is on your nose because you may well be wearing them. I have held up a match to light a cigarette that is not yet in my mouth.

Have you ever drained an already empty glass?

It was serendipity that yesterday, as I was promenading the city, pondering this business of sight, my phone pinged with a message from my oldest friend. I happened to be exactly where we had sat outside, after our last exam, drinking a ceremonial beer, 50 years earlier.

At the time, the conversation had wandered to our apprehension about being conscripted into war in Vietnam.

My friend declared that he had no concerns at all and, nonplussed, we quizzed him, “Why not?”

We continued to press, and he evaded with an answer.

“Because I had Rubella when I was four.”

When you know someone really well, the most obvious things are invisible. If they grow a beard, you sense something is different but you can’t quite identify it.

He only has sight in one eye.