Optical Opulence at Seen Opticians

It was 2001 when I last wore glasses to the football. At the time I’d stubbornly refused to go to the game looking what I decided was a ‘bad geek’.

These things were important, my team were on the crest of a slump having ridden the wave of success for the previous decade. The last thing I needed was to look like a speccy four eyes. But we were playing Man City and my ticket was right at the back of the stand. Two late goals for my team later and my glasses were in several pieces, as was my tiny mind. Great days. I never really replaced them and have worn contact lenses ever since.

But now, aged 38 and with my priorities reorganised a little, I decided it was time to finally, reluctantly grow up. Glasses are cool now anyway.

A visit to the local chain store is all well and good, but what’s the point in wearing really lovely shoes, expensive technical outerwear, a £30+ haircut and £24 a pair Japanese socks if your glasses look like something Jack Duckworth would turn his nose up at? It’s like all these instagram casual kids who take pictures of their formulaic outfit on their nanna’s bedspread. You’re not cool, lads. If you appreciate nice clothes then surely you appreciate the finer things in life too. Cars, films, food, bedroom linen and yes, glasses. Especially glasses, after all they’re made to be worn too.

These days, looking like one half of the Proclaimers isn’t going to make you the target of boorish bullies. In fact, quite the opposite. A really, really nice pair of crafted specs can complement your entire ensemble. You don’t need me to reel off the list of people who wear glasses and look great because of it.

Having spent the last few years relying almost solely on contact lenses I decided it was time to get my shit together and treat myself to some serious optical opulence. The last pair I had reluctantly bought were stood on and broken, but then they cost me about £35 so I wasn’t really that bothered. This time though, I wanted a pair that I’d guard with my life, just as I do with my waterproof coats/children.

I’m one of those people who tries his best to favour local independent shops over the big supermarket chains. Well annoying aren’t I? Yeah ok I buy McDonalds and drink loads of Diet Coke too, I know I’m not saving the planet. But purely for my own sense of smugness, I did some digging and was quickly reminded of a place I knew Oi Polloi owner Steve Sanderson favoured, Seen Opticians in Manchester. A simple google later and I’d left my details with them online. A couple of days passed before a sprightly voice which belonged to someone called Colette invited me in for an eye test and contact lens check.

In the meantime, I happened to mention the place to a couple of people who both actually described Seen Opticians as ‘The Oi Polloi of eyewear’.

Fast forward a fortnight and here I am sitting at my desk wearing some rather splendid Garrett Leight specs. They’ve taken years off me, or put them on. I can’t decide which. I look better anyway, I reckon. This is thanks to a level of attentive service I’ve rarely received elsewhere. The main man Tareq was sound, the aforementioned Colette laughed at around 73% of my dry jokes and when I went back to have a fitting of my new bins, Erika opened up a new world to me… a world where clip on shade lenses are absolutely fine. I’d previously thought of them as proper Saga coach holiday Grandad fodder. How wrong I was. I’m gonna get some when the snow goes back over the hill and the sun gets his hat on.

Before going to Seen, I was a bit put off by the expense a new pair of spectacles involved. I never really thought it was worth it for something I’d stand on. Now though… now I can see it. Literally and metaphorically.

If you’re local (or even if you’re not), I can’t recommend this lot enough.

I might even wear my new glasses to the football on Saturday.

Mark Smith

I had pizza for tea.

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