As the shooting season draws nearer, I am of course preparing myself for the impending months of sport. For some this will mean having the gunsmith look over their equipment, for others it will be a case of a few afternoons of clay busting – and for me, the arrival of the new season will result in near-constant communication with my tailor Terry Haste and my oculist Sheel Davison-Lungley, of Meyrowitz in the Royal Arcade.
My declining eyesight (see Swellboy passim) has opened up a new avenue of self-expression through the medium of eyewear that has touched almost every aspect of my life, including my limited interaction with the sporting arena. And having had my 1970s Ray-Ban shooting glasses converted to accommodate the sodium-tinted yellow lenses made to my prescription, it occurred to me that I needed to have some polarised glasses to cope with the glare on the odd occasions that the sun makes an appearance. The only thing is that I do not have another pair of vintage shooters to convert, and I was rather keen on the sports-type side arms of the glasses that hook around the ear to keep them firmly in place.
I mentioned this to Sheel, and with what I can only describe as an inspired flash of genius, she showed me a pair of shooting glasses with prescription lenses that she had just produced for another customer. What made these different to my aviator-style shooters was that the frame was a warm tortoiseshell. However, the ends of the arms had been cunningly fitted with the same springy hooks that keep the aviators on my ears, as I desperately swing and try to catch up with the birds.
It was as though a door had been opened, a light turned on, and every other metaphor concerning the elucidation of a universal truth had been employed. This sort of fitting could be used across a variety of sports, and I was sorely tempted to order a pair for playing backgammon. A varifocal lens might work best here (depending on the size of board, I might need distance and close vision), while the hooked arms would keep the glasses on my face if I turned too abruptly to light a cigar or move one of the pieces with an unwonted haste.
However, the chief benefit of these tortoiseshell shooting glasses should be clear to even the most myopic of outdoorsmen… The softer, natural mottled caramel tone of the frame is a far better companion to the rustic hues of tweed than the harsh, gleaming metal frames of traditional shooting glasses.