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Maybe I can now put the magnifying glass away.

Byline: lowri turner

AS YOU read this, I will be lying in bed, recuperating from laser eye surgery. I have finally succumbed. This is despite the warnings of a fantastically boring Austrian eye surgeon I met speed-dating five years ago.

Mr Speccy Four Eyes's opening gambit was to inform me that he was only in the UK for three months (not a great dating ploy that, guys, as it's best to at least pretend to be looking for a lasting relationship).

We went on to discuss corneal damage. Yes, it really was that fascinating.

What has overridden that experience is the twin pressures of vanity and basic blindness. There is nothing that makes you feel so old as having to use a magnifying glass to read the back of packets.

When you're a kid, magnifying glasses are exciting, mysterious pieces of equipment, used by detectives to uncover clues or employed to magically capture the power of the sun to set fire to small piles of leaves.

I don't think Sherlock Holmes was reduced to using one to establish if he could freeze a packet of prawns safely.

Still, I am not alone. I mentioned my magnifying glass to my hairdresser and he confessed that he too had one concealed in his kitchen drawer.

These are secret purchases, though. You never see magnifying glasses at the check-out at W H Smith like the huge bars of Dairy Milk they push on you with the fervour of crack cocaine dealers.

I bought my magnifying glass from a pound shop, as did my hairdresser.

Now, I like nothing better than browsing novelty oven-proof dishes in pound shops, but my crimper, who has no children so can afford to buy things from normal shops, is definitely not a discount store kind of guy. He buys his loo roll from M&S. Never mind the credit crunch, then, now we know why pound shops are doing so well. Millions of us up and down the land are furtively visiting them to stock up on the magnifying glasses we can't get anywhere else, so we can work out how many minutes to "ping" a microwave lasagne.

From this weekend, however, I will no longer be part of the brother and sisterhood of the magnifying glass. Either that, or the op will have gone terribly wrong and I will be totally blind, in which case my Austrian ophthalmic surgeon will have been vindicated. Perhaps I should have gone for his three-month deal after all?
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 11, 2009
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