I HAVE needed to wear glasses for longer than I care to remember, but I was well into my 20s before I admitted it.

Much of my teens was spent in a blurry world of soft focus, even when I was roaring round at breakneck speed on powerful motorcycles. I did have a pair of black plastic rimmed spectacles, but was not allowed to wear them by the future Mrs Hextol. I never saw the beginning or end of any of the many films we went to see at the local picture house, because I was forbidden to put them on until after the lights had gone down, and then had to take them off before the lights came back on again.

“I can’t have people knowing I am going out with a boy who wears glasses,” she sniffed.

When we went to Blackpool or Rhyl on my Matchless 650 or Triumph Thunderbird, wearing our identical Phil Read crash helmets, she perched on the pillion seat and gave me a running commentary, steering me through upcoming road junctions, traffic lights or any other potential hazards on the road ahead.

She would have been a natural on one of those police advanced driving tests. It was staggeringly dangerous, but we were so perfectly in tune, we never put a foot wrong.

Occasionally I would roar off to the seaside accompanied by my equally short-sighted and non spectacle wearing friend Pibbol, and somehow manage to get there safely.

There we would cause consternation to staff in chip shops, as we screwed up our faces horribly like a pair of gurners trying to read the price lists behind then to see if we could afford steak and kidney pudding and chips each, or whether we would have to share one.

Eventually though, vanity gave way to common sense and I have been a reluctant wearer of spectacles for over 40 years.

I did briefly toy with the idea of going for contact lenses, but a trial session left me looking as though I had gone 15 rounds with Tyson Fury, so I ruled that out.

My first pair were a complete revelation as for the first time since I was at primary school, I could see! Muddy backgrounds burst into vibrant colour, and I no longer walked rudely past close friends and family members in the street. because I could actually see who they were.

Buying new glasses has always been a bit of a trial for me, as the vast array of spectacle frames and multiple mirrors are pretty pointless as far as I am concerned. To try on a potential new pair of glasses, I have to take off my old ones and without them I am unable to see what the new ones look like on my face.

Mrs Hextol therefore has to come with me and decide which frames will suit me best. To my chagrin she invariably chooses from the more expensive end of the range available, but when I object she says: “You only have to look through them; I’m the one who had to look at them, and I don’t want to look at you wearing something cheap and nasty!”

I have had many eye tests over the years, and have now graduated from single vision lenses to varifocals, which I have always felt I have managed admirably.

However, Mrs Hextol noted the other day that in recent months, I have been looking over the top of my glasses to read, or taking them off altogether.

And with my considerable weight loss, she observed: “Those glasses are not only a waste of time for reading, but they are far too big for your face now – we’ll go and get you some new ones.”

So we found ourselves in an emporium of optical aids where Mrs Hextol browsed and selected various frames for me to try on.

She eventually opted for a pair which supposedly retailed at £89 – and they came with a free second pair of glasses as an added bonus.

“You can have one pair for best and another to wear when you’re doing the horses,” said Mrs Hextol.

“Not bad for £89,” I reasoned, but spectacle shopping is a bit like booking a holiday with one of the budget airlines – there are always hidden extras.

I now have the two pairs of glasses, both of which enhance my visual experience beyond measure.

I still can’t work out why the final bill was £213 though!